Radio_Ads_body.jpgby Robert Lerose.


Advertising on the radio might seem dated and old-fashioned in the age of social media, but radio is still a potent medium for selling products and services. Renée Black, an account executive at Nancy Marshall Communications, an Augusta, Maine-based communications agency, has these tips for creating radio messages that cut through the clutter.


1. Engage your audience right away.

Unlike television or the Internet, radio is typically in the background. Most radio listeners will be in their car or doing something else when your message comes on. On top of that, radio ads are short—usually 30 or 60 seconds. To make that time count, begin your ad with a hook or captivating statement that commands immediate attention.


2. Give your ads the human touch.

Your ad should feature people that listeners can connect with. One classic approach is to identify the problem that your product or service solves and then show the solution in human terms. For example: instead of telling that your paint store stocks hundreds of colors, show how you helped a customer choose a color that brought her room to life and made the experience easy.


Radio_Ads_PQ.jpg3. Your ad should reflect your listeners.

"Your listeners must be able to see themselves in your ad," Black says. "You may find it helpful to create real personas of your own customers." Otherwise, Black suggests using these categories to come up with realistic characters: methodical (swayed by statistics and facts), humanistic (driven strongly by emotions and feelings), spontaneous (spurred by quick decisions or impulsiveness), and competitive (the early adopters who want to be first in their peer group).


4. Have a memorable call to action.

Radio ads should ask the listener directly to take some kind of action. Black warns that a hard-to-remember 800 number can turn off an audience, but a catchy phone number or simple website address works much better. Rewarding listeners who act promptly—such as giving them an added benefit or discount—will frequently boost the response rate.


5. Maintain an up-to-date website.

Make sure that your website fulfills anything that is promised in your ad. "Your website is the best possible means of differentiating your company from your competitor," Black says. "A strong website is your best partner for a strong radio campaign."


6. Be consistent in your branding.

It's prudent to refresh your ads, but don't radically change things that the listener has come to associate with your business. For example, you can put new twists in ads during a campaign, but keep your company's spokesperson or tagline the same.


As many small businesses have discovered, advertising on radio can be a stealth way to win customers and separate yourself from the competition.


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