11 things to avoid in your radio ads

So you buy radio ads. The biggest problem with buying radio ads is you’re probably going to have to talk to a radio sales representative. The bad thing about speaking to one of them is that they will want to agree with everything you say to make sure you buy. They will make you feel like an expert. It might pump your tires, but it won’t do much for the ad that will eventually run for your businesses. So, my first advice would be to get your creative made by someone like me instead of a radio station. But, if you’re dead set on going to the station for creative, or if you just want to see how your current spots measure up, here’s a short list of things not to put in your radio creative.

Phone number & address – Please, please, please, if only one thing sticks from this article, please do not put your phone number or address in your spots (unless they are extremely memorable.) Nowadays, people can find you without having any contact information. Most people’s first impression of your company will come from Google. Spend your efforts on making sure you pop up there when they come searching for you. Also, phone numbers and addresses take a lot of time to say, and often need to be repeated. That is a lot of time wasted in your commercial. It could be up to 10 seconds. That doesn’t leave you much time to create an effective message. Be honest, have you ever remembered a phone number or an address from a commercial?

Service – I know your service is probably fantastic, but it isn’t interesting in your ad. You cannot convince a stranger in 30 seconds that your customer service is so good that they should visit you based solely for that reason. Everybody says that, and for that reason it is completely ineffective.

Awards – You should be proud of the awards your business has won, but regular people have been trained not to trust these claims in commercials. It suffers from the same problem “service” suffers from. It’s been done to death. So, it becomes unbelievable and wholly uninteresting. Give your listener a real reason to visit you. It needs to be different, and it needs to be exciting. Don’t talk about how much people love you. Talk about why someone would want to try your business out so they can form their own opinion.

Fake conversations – Way too many commercials put unrealistic lines into the mouths of supposed “real people.” Think of ads that go like this.

V1 – Hey Sue, where did you get those shoes?

V2 – They’re nice right. I found them at ABC shoe store on 123 Street and 67th ave. Did you know they have brand new designer lines available at discount prices for a limited time?!?!?!

Ughhh... If you have a conversation in your ads, make sure they sound like real people. That means that you should never make them deliver information. People don’t do that! As soon as it sounds fake, people tune out.

Lasers & explosions – It isn’t 1982 anymore. Lame explosions and harsh hard sell ads need to be put in the Disney vault for a decade or two. Don’t be a cliché.

Too many words -  You can have the most creative, interesting, smart ad possible. If it’s written too long and the announcer has to read it at an unnatural pace, it will be less effective. Let your commercials breathe. There is always something you can edit out.

More than one idea – One commercial, one idea. That’s all you get. I’d even go so far as to say one campaign, one idea. Don’t toss a bunch of pitches at your listener. It’s like throwing three oranges to someone and asking them to catch them all. They’ll probably drop all of them. If you throw one, they’ll catch it. Take your most interesting point about your business and stick with it. They’ll find out everything else once they become a customer.

Yourself – Some people can voice their own ads, but the majority are doing the message a disservice. Make sure you’re capable before you let anything go to air. I’ve also had plenty of clients that want their children, nieces, and nephews in their spots. That’s also a bad idea. Leave the acting to the professionals. Your advertising is not a photo album to show off yourself or your family. It is an expensive tool to expand your business. Use it wisely.

Car Crashes & Sirens – This one might be obvious. Most people listen to the radio in their cars. Car crashes & sirens are scary things to hear when you’re driving. It might stand out, but it’s actually dangerous for drivers. For that reason, leave it out.

Jingles – Jingles can be effective. They get stuck in your head. But, they are almost always cheesy. Do you want your businesses brand to be cheesy? If that’s ok for you, go for it. If not, you’ll want to try something else. There are plenty of effective strategies that that don’t involve the lowest common denominator.

Humour without substance – Funny ads are entertaining. But, don’t let your message be a skit for the amusement of others. It also needs to promote your business. It’s great to employ comedy, but there must be a memorable link back to your company. Otherwise, it’s a waste. How many hilarious ads have you heard/seen but couldn’t remember the business that made it? Sure, it entertained you, but it was still a bad advertisement. Ultimately, It needs to work.

There are hundreds of other examples I can drum up, but I think these are the biggest, most common offenders. If your ads use any of these techniques, you may want to review them. Feel free to send them my way as well. I promise I will give you my honest opinion. That’s something you probably will not receive from most radio sales reps.