Want to broadcast the benefits of your product or service to the world?

May 17


Julia Hyde

Julia Hyde

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The radio commercial is often overlooked by businesses trying to sell their products or services, both locally and globally. The reason: a radio commercial is thought to be expensive and difficult to produce. This is simply not true. Dollar for dollar radio advertising has to be one of the greatest advertising bargains available today. In fact, advertising on the radio can cost less than it does to place print ads in newspapers and magazines. And unlike print ads, which can take months to get to the production stage, a radio commercial can be made in less than a day, and be on the air immediately. In addition radio advertising gives you a stunning opportunity to reach thousands of potential customers. And allows you to let your creativity run wild.


Consider the following:

  • Your commercial can be set in any time period; the past,Want to broadcast the benefits of your product or service to the world? Articles future or present
  • You can set the scene in Africa, the Arctic, Russia or the deserts of Saudi Arabia
  • You can drop your listeners on a
    desert island, the mountains of Switzerland, in the supermarket or take them on a wild and dangerous adventure.

Many radio commercials are made by the radio stations, but if you want to keep your costs down, and have some fun into the bargain, there’s no reason why you can’t write and even produce your own. All you need is about one hour of studio time, two or three out-of-work actors, a producer, and some pre-recorded sound effects.

But before you get carried away remember that like any other advertising medium radio advertising has three jobs to do: get the listener’s attention, create a desire, and encourage him or her to act.

1. The informational commercial. There are times when it makes sense to use a factual commercial. For example, if there’s an event you want to promote. In this instance, the commercial should deal with facts; what the event is, where it is, and when. That doesn’t mean to say you have to create a list of facts and read it out on air. You can still weave a story or plot around the facts to make the commercial more interesting. But beware: there’s a tendency for radio commercial producers to browbeat their audience by hiring over-enthusiastic local celebrities or radio presenters to provide voice-overs. For general audiences, cajoling them gently works much better. Try adding another voice and a plot to make your commercial stand out from the rest.

2. The dialogue commercial. A dialogue commercial revolves around a conversation between two or more people. Either (a) the announcer and others, or (b) two or more characters without an announcer. The dialogue commercial can cause problems for the inexperienced producer, especially if you decide to use company employees rather than professional actors. And, even if you do employ professional actors your commercial can still lack credibility. Let’s face it, how many times a day do you spend 60 seconds discussing a product or service with someone else? There are ways round this but generally speaking, it may be better to leave the dialogue commercial to the experts.

3. The dramatized commercial. Out of all the different types of radio commercials, the dramatized commercial is the most popular. Consisting of a short play or playlet, with the product as the hero, they provide a solution to a problem and let people ‘create an image in their mind.’ If you fancy producing a dramatized commercial you’ll definitely have to hire a professional cast otherwise it will sound phony. But, the extra cost can be worth it because this type of commercial can be very effective.

4. The humorous commercial. Humor is an extremely dangerous weapon, especially if placed in the wrong hands. It’s elusive and subjective. No two people will think the same things are funny. And, something that may have been amusing the first time around can be downright irritating on the 20th hearing. If you must use humor in your radio commercial, consider the following:

  • Humor should form only part of your commercial. The rest should be used for information.
  • Don’t use slapstick. To appreciate it, you’ve got to see it, not hear it.
  • Don’t preach. Sermons are the death of humor.
  • Keep it simple. The funniest things are the things that everyone does in their daily lives: sleeping, eating, money, family life.

A word about jingles

Some radio commercials can be improved if they have a jingle. Simple jingles lull the listener into a sense of well being, create a mood, and can become synonymous with a particular product. But, there’s a danger that while the jingle will make people want to tap their feet and hum to the music, it won’t motivate them to buy. For that reason you should think carefully before deciding to use a jingle in your commercial. And, don’t be charmed by the jingles catchy lyrics, up-beat tempo or foot tapping beat. Ask yourself: “Will it sell my product?” If you’re not convinced, leave it out.

Where to get help

There are a number of places you can go to get help with your commercial, especially if you’re advertising locally. Here’s a couple to get you started:

1. Your local radio station will have a whole library full of sound effects and music you can tap into. However most stations don’t volunteer this information so you’ll have to do a bit of legwork.
2. Consider hiring the services of a ‘jingle house’ -- a company that can whip up music and lyrics to order. Make sure you supply them with information about what you want the commercial to achieve so they come up with a jingle that will appeal to your target audience.