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Before You Write A Radio Commercial….

That crazy idea you just had for a radio commercial made you laugh out loud.  It’ll drive your rivals crazy that they didn’t think of it first.  There’s only one responsible thing to do.

STOP!  Catch your breath.  Detail exactly what you need your new radio commercial to accomplish and consider whether you have the funds to make that happen with this message.

Clever concepts and funny dialog can make a radio advertisement stand out and get noticed.  But it’s rare that those messages will instantly drive a purchase.  Clever copy conveys a branding message, one that can change the way you feel about a product or service.  It positions you as cool.  Or innovative.  And it requires a bank truck full of money to hammer home that message and change public opinion.  Branding ads rarely have an immediate impact that you’ll notice at the top of your sales funnel.

And that’s fine for marketers well-funded to play the long game.  But if you’ve got an annual budget that only permits a four-week ad campaign – or you’re testing something new and must gauge the cause-and-effect of your advertising in terms of leads and sales – that branding message will burn through your bankroll and teach you nothing except maybe never to do that again.

START HERE: Step back from that clever concept begging to be funded and ask, “What exactly do I want a potential customer to do after they hear my commercial message?”

If it’s to be informed, or feel a certain way about your brand, then that clever branding message may be just the right approach.  But if it’s to inspire a measurable action – like visiting a retail store, dialing a phone number, downloading an app or visiting a website – you’ll need a stronger, more structured approach, where every word and every sound works in harmony to trigger an urgent and emotional response upon which the listener must act and act now.

You’ll need to grab their attention.  Easily explain the one (or two) essential and irresistible thing(s) that makes your brand indispensable.  You’ll present a jaw-dropping offer.  And then direct the listener to take a specific action and to do so with urgency.

Never let creativity get in the way of making the sale.  Throughout my career, I have written well over 3,000 radio commercials.  For fun, I host Open Mic Comedy Nights in my community.  But I never use comedy in a radio commercial to show off or entertain.  An advertiser that invests valuable dollars to generate a response cannot afford to have its message hijacked by a clever idea which distracts the listener from the ad’s core purpose.

Take that giant step back.  And define what success looks like before you put pen to paper.

Mark Lipsky is CEO and Creative Director at The Radio Agency.  You can reach him at [email protected].