From Concepting to Scheduling: 8 Steps to Radio Commercial Production

With a great script, good production, and the appropriate timing, radio can be one of your most effective marketing channels available. Radio ads leverage the unique power of audio by tapping into “the theater of the mind,” and your creative can mean the difference between an ad that works and an ad that causes listeners to tune out.

Ensure that your radio ad reflects your brand’s personality, is easy to understand, and tells an entertaining or captivating story. In addition to those foundational tips, we’ve assembled eight steps to keep in mind when producing radio ads for real business results.

1. Set Goals

What are you seeking to achieve with your campaign? First determine whether you want more store traffic, website visitors, or to achieve a certain sales goal. Perhaps your goal is to build brand awareness or promote a special event. Are you planning a standalone campaign or will it be integrated with other campaigns? It’s critical to ensure that you’re clear on what your goals are, and that you have effectively communicated your goals to your radio advertising partner. You need to know exactly what you will be measuring in order to determine success.

2. Communicate Your Budget (So You Can Stick to It!)

Do you plan to produce your ads in-house, or pay professionals? Your local radio station should have a variety of resources to help create your ads. Once you’ve determined your creative budget, it’s important to align your expectations accordingly.

3. Determine Target Audience

Who are you targeting with your ads? You need to know what motivates your target audience and what they are likely to react to, in addition to what stations and formats they listen to. Then, if necessary, adjust your creative to fit these considerations. Coordinate with your media partner and selected station to get their input and feedback. Your radio partners know their listeners and are in the best position to offer advice on how to engage with them.

4. Plan Messaging and CTAs Thoughtfully

Align your messaging and CTA or promotional offer with your campaign goals and your target audience. For instance, if your goal is to drive sales of a new product during a certain timeframe in your store, make sure that is the focus of your advertising. In other words, your ad shouldn’t focus on how great your company is, building brand awareness or increasing website traffic, unless those are the specific goals for your campaign.

5. Get Creative!

Utilize the expertise of your radio partners and, together with your marketing team, conduct a brainstorming session for your ad creative. Start by reflecting on your goals, the format you’re advertising on, the types of listeners you’re targeting, and other important variables. Then brainstorm to produce a list of creative concepts, as many as you can come up with, that could be compelling to use for the campaign. Work through your ideas and decide which one best fits your needs. In the creative process, quantity comes first—then quality ideas rise to the top.

6. Write Your Script with Care

Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when developing your ad copy.

  • Start with an attention-grabbing statement. In radio, if you don’t grab the listener’s attention quickly, it’s likely they will tune out, either literally or figuratively.
  • Strike a balance between an emotional and logical appeal. A recitation of boring facts is unlikely to capture or keep a listener’s attention, so try combining facts with emotion.
  • Keep it simple and include a clear, relevant offer. A great ad that doesn’t include an offer the audience is interested in probably won’t get you the results you want.
  • Your basic message should answer your listener’s question, “What’s in it for me?”

7. Pay Attention to the Details

Once you have your script prepared, you’ll need to determine who will be voicing your commercial. It’s likely that your radio station partner has voiceover professionals who can fit your needs (at no cost) or on-air personalities (for a fee). In some cases you might want to hire someone externally if your needs are very specific—like someone with an accent, or a young child. Typically you want to stick to using an expert as there are certain skills that a professional has when it comes to voiceover work that you won’t find with just anyone who has a “great voice.”

In addition to the right voice, you’ll want to pay attention to other details like production value, use of music, and sound effects. This is where working with professionals and following best practices is absolutely key so that you don’t overdo it or underutilize these useful tools.

8. Leave it to the Experts!

Experienced media partners are equipped to create radio commercials that will resonate with your audience and get results. Remember that too many cooks spoil the broth, so be sure you feel like you can trust your professional team. They should be there to help with every step in your radio ad production and make it a simple, streamlined process.

When it comes to producing an ad for radio, the process is different than with other media. You have a limited time to capture attention, make listeners understand or feel something, and encourage them to act. Keep your target audience in mind throughout the entire radio commercial production process, and rely on your media partner to guide you.

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