When should you voice your own ads?

Owners voicing their own ads can either be really good, or really bad. There isn’t really an in between.  I’m not against it. I just think that it’s usually misused. It can be a really powerful tool in the right situations. But, usually, there’s only one kind of client who uses them. The Big Ego Client – This is the guy that wrecks the style. The big ego client wants to voice his own commercials because he wants people to recognize him. He wants people to stop him and say “hey, you’re the guy on them ads right?”

That’s actually ok. As long as the client knows that he’s spending his money to receive that result. The ads may not drive sales, but people will recognize him. The commercial has achieved its goal. The client needs to know that going in.

I saw a very bad example of this the other day driving home. It was for a car dealership (surprise!) It saw  a giant, expensive billboard. 50% of the space was the owners face, and the text said “John Smith is proud to invite you to buy a car.” It didn’t even mention the dealerships name. You had to find a small logo in the corner.

That commercial was an ego trip. “John Smith” wanted to see his face and name in lights. He wanted his friends and family to see how successful he is. It didn’t help the commercial to have him there. In fact, it was a detriment.

So, when should a business owner voice their own commercials?

It depends. Every person is different. My first move is to qualify the client. Can they handle an entire script? Should they read just one line? Will having them voice the commercial make it more effective?

If you’re going to read your own commercials, you need to have a level of charisma. You aren’t helping your business if you sound like a dead fish. That’s when someone needs to be brave enough to shut the idea down and look elsewhere. The owner absolutely needs to sound genuine, interesting, or fun for the message to be redeeming. More importantly, they need to sound real.

Being real is everything these days. People can smell out fake messages. Legal speak or jargon is a dead giveaway and the delivery of a script is very important. Whether it’s a paid voice over talent or the greenest owner, the person reading the script needs to sound like a normal human being. That can be tough at the beginning for anybody. It’s nerve racking reading a radio commercial for the first time. You have to speak into a microphone. There’s a guy watching you from the other room. You can hear your own voice in your headphones. You have your own pre-conceived notions of how a radio commercials should sound. It isn’t a normal situation. So, sounding normal is difficult. Plus, most people will “read” a script; instead of “speak” the script. Listeners can pick this out instantly. It’s hard to listen to, so they usually don’t. This is where you need a really good producer to direct them.

So, what kind of company will benefit from having the business owner voice their own commercials?

Any business really; I’d urge any charismatic owner who really knows their business to tackle a script (in full or in part.) But, there are businesses that get more bang for their buck. This tends to be in industries where “trust” is an issue. Businesses like, dental clinics, mortgage brokers, funeral services etc... These businesses need strong personal skills. They require their clients to trust the business before they’ll spend their money. That’s when it may be best to voice with the owner of the business. Extend the helping hand through the radio to establish a personal relationship before they ever meet their clients.

Never choose to do anything in your advertisements unless you have a good reason for it. That goes for everything! That’s why you need to know what the benefit of voicing your own ads is. There needs to be strategy behind it. If you’re intriguing and capable, your ads will be great. If you’re the opposite... well, you know the rest.