Radio ads are a tricky business! 

You don't have a visual aspect to play with. You are competing with everything happening in or around your listener's surroundings to get their attention. 

Nevertheless, the radio can be such a great tool to reach many people. Technology may change, but some things are classics for a reason. People still listen to the radio

With that being said, most radio ads are not exactly Grammy-winning audios

So knowing this, how do you make it work? How can you, as a marketer, create a radio ad that will create a lasting connection? 

Stay tuned because Alrika Möller from media update is giving her top tips for creating a radio ad that will make waves. 

1. Grab attention 

Radio ads are generally not very long; otherwise, people will lose interest in them long before they reach the important part of the message. 

Even with that, the first few seconds matter quite a lot. You want to grab people's attention right off the bat. How else will you ensure that you have their full attention for the whole 30 to 60 seconds

Grabbing attention doesn't have to be in the form of shouting. You can use a distinctive sound or a fun and catchy jingle. The trick is to make the most of the first five seconds

A great example of this is the Abel and Cole radio ad of 2023. It starts by using the announcement sound of an intercom. It really makes you sit up and listen. 

2. Keep it simple

Chances are that your listeners are either on a busy road or have the radio as some background noise while they are relaxing or working. 

That means that it is generally not a great idea to overwhelm them! Imagine seeing people getting overwhelmed and confused during their morning commute — before you know it, hooters are tooting everywhere. 

It's not exactly an ideal situation … 

Simple radio ads are easier to pay attention to while doing whatever you are doing, without being a distraction. They require slightly less concentration on the listeners' parts. 

There is also a better chance of the listeners retaining the information when there is no overload involved. 

Keep your radio ad simple by:
  • focusing on a single story 
  • not having too many characters and voices
  • not using too many sound effects, and
  • not going too fast. 
Audi did a great job at creating a simple yet effective ad when it released its ad for the Audi Quattro. The ad uses one voice and minimal sound effects, but it is strong and powerful. 

3. Create an image

We have already established that any visual elements are a no-go since radio is a sound-only thing. 

That is why you have to paint the picture for the listeners. Set the stage for what is happening so that they can form a picture for themselves. 

It helps when you draw elements from an environment that they know, such as:
  • sports games 
  • restaurants, and 
  • everyday life situations. 
Pizza Hut managed to make us all feel like we were in the restaurant by using familiar sounds and immersing its audience in an all-too-familiar situation. 

The sounds also help to add humour, which ultimately creates an image for the listener. 

4. Focus on flow

As any writer will tell you, a story must have a beginning, middle and end. Radio ads are the same. 

I know, you have limited time to get the info across and to tell the story, but you have to think of a logical sequence of events. It must all flow

You cannot just jump straight into the important information. 

You can start by stating or creating the problem, then you offer yourself as the solution. Lastly, you give all the juicy bits on why your brand is the best solution out there. 

Another way to create flow is by telling a story. It must be short and sweet, but it will still have a beginning, middle and end. The end is usually the best bit where the point drives through. 

The Cadbury 'missing tortoise' ad creates a story that does not only flow but makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. The story might be short, but the flow is what makes you keep listening

5. Call to action

For a radio ad to truly be successful, it needs to make people feel like they are being spoken to directly. That can be a little complicated when you are trying to reach millions of listeners.

That is why you add a call to action. It usually falls at the end of the ad, and it calls upon the listener to:
  • do something
  • buy something, or 
  • try something. 
You can invite listeners to check out a website or visit a local store. The important thing here is that they see the importance of the action

An example of this is the Endangered Wildlife Trust, which ended one of its ads with a message asking people to donate. It also called on them to visit the website and take action regarding the particular cause. 

Radio ads are not a thing of history. If you do it right, these ads can be your best marketing tactic yet

Are there any marketing avenues you want us to explore? Let us know in the comment section below. 

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Do you want to add some extra oomph to your ads? Take a look at What is the 2024 consumer looking for?
*Image courtesy of Canva