The first thing we have to be aware of when creating an effective radio advert is time.
Although it can vary, generally speaking, radio adverts are based on a set length of time. The most common length of a radio advert is 30 seconds. In order to maximise the impact of that time, we must get to the point as use the time efficiently, but we will look at that in stage 2.
How much can we actually say in 30 seconds?
We need to break down the idea of time further to answer that question correctly, as we talk generally about “word count”, but in terms of timing, syllables are more important. A syllable, in basic terms, is the beat of a word. For example, the word “one” has one beat, or syllable, whereas the word “sixty-nine” has three beats, “six”, “ty”, and “nine”. Some people talk fast, some talk much slower, but on average, we speak at a rate of four to five syllables per second, which is up to around 300 syllables per minute. Most words are two to three syllables long, so, on average, a person speaks approximately 100 – 130 words per minute, although a professional voice over artist usually uses 150 to 160 words per minute.
Therefore, we are looking at around 150 syllables, or 75 words for our 30 second advert. But… This is not an exact figure, because if we use long words, we use more syllables, and therefore take longer to speak, than monosyllabic words.
An example might be the telephone number 694721580, a typical Spanish mobile number. If we break down the words, we get, “six, nine, four, seven, two, one, five, eight, zero”, which is 9 words, but 10 syllables. However, if we say it differently, “sixty nine, forty seven, twenty one, fifteen, eighty”, we use 8 words, but 13 syllables. At a rate of 5 syllables per second, the first option took 2 seconds, whereas the second, almost 3. In other words, around one tenth of our entire time allocation.
Let us look at a typical website, “www.mywebsite.com”, is 15 syllables, remembering that the “dot” is also a beat. If we truncate it to “mywebsite.com”, it is only 5 syllables. We must be sure that our website operates without the “www” prefix though. Many mainstream advertisers no longer quote domain names but use search engine keywords instead, such as “my website”, for example, but again, we must make sure that our website is set up correctly and optimised for the keyword in order for this to work.
Putting those two worse case elements together, we have used 28 syllables out of our 150, almost 20% of our allocation, and all we have done is given our telephone number and website.
How do I maximise the impact of a radio advert?
As we have already seen, we have a very limited word budget to play with when it comes to radio advertising. But that’s not a bad thing, because it helps us get straight to the point more effectively.
There are many different types of adverts, which might include elongated promotions offering information, or infomercials, or might just be aimed at brand awareness.
In general terms, we must separate our advert to include two very distinct areas. We must create a “hook”, and a “call to action”, or CTA. The “hook” is the part which gives people a reason to react, and the CTA tells them what to do. For the mot effective response, both parts need to be brief and to the point, and the best way of separating them is in a 2:1 ratio, so 20 seconds for the hook, 10 seconds for the CTA.
Let’s look at two samples…
“This toaster is made by Breville and has two slots, each of which can fit two pieces of bread, and a handy slider to lower the bread into the toaster, where a built-in timer will heat the interior elements to the desired temperature to toast your bread to a perfect state…” 51 words so far, and entering into the realms of infomercials, and not getting to the point quickly.
“Get 50 percent off all Breville toasters”, 7 words, brief and to the point.
The biggest retail network on the planet, Amazon, frequently celebrate Prime Day (which often lasts longer than a day), but their primary focus, or “hook”, is simply, “It’s Prime Day”. We see the same for retail events like “Black Friday”. Of course, the specific offers are available once we carry out the CTA and visit the site, or sometimes they focus on a single product, but the initial promoted element is only a fraction of what is available, because they keep it brief and to the point.
So, the first challenge is to ask yourself what is THE most important thing you want to say, and focus on that. Don’t get bogged down with detail, as people will not hear it, generally, get straight to the point as quickly as possible, and, ideally, only focus on one single selling point, a single hook.
If you have many things to say, then of course you can create multiple adverts, focussing on a single point in each, but as the biggest power in radio advertising reach is through repetition, the stylisation and presentation must be consistent.
The “hook” – why should people come to you.
Then we add the CTA. Telling people how to access whatever you have just told them about. This could be something as simple as a telephone number, although telephone numbers can be problematic as they require the listener to be poised with pen and paper to write them down, or it could be a social media page, website, location. The CTA is anything that calls the listener to action, as the name suggests.
By far the most effective CTA is directing people to a point where they can get further information, either on the product or service you are selling, or how to contact or visit you. A website or social media page is the most obvious, but again, this should be simple and direct. It is possible to create a separate landing page, or use a “masking” URL to keep things simple, and allow you to monitor the effectiveness of your campaign at the same time, and subsequently adjust your promotion based on the results.
If you do send people to a website, make sure you send them to the relevant part you are focussing on. Don’t make them search further than they have to, or make it obvious on your homepage where the visitors can go to benefit from whatever you are advertising.
Similarly, you can just use search engine marketing by directing people to a specific search string, but you must be confident that this is set up correctly across all search engines, or you could be inadvertently benefitting your competitors. This is not a difficult process by the way, but it does require constant monitoring, so you might want to consult an expert in this field to ensure it works correctly for you.
For physical businesses you can harness the power of local search optimisation and use your business listing on Google Maps, or others, such as What Three Words, for example.
Although we have laid out a few of the basics, the most important thing to remember is to keep it simple. Or, “simples”, to put it another way. We have thrown in an intentional advertising slogan there, a single word, “simples”, but we know exactly what image that would have conjured up. Meerkats. “If you like a lot of chocolate on your biscuit, join our…”, fill in the blank. “They’re Gr-r-reat”, “Just one Cornetto…”, “Go compare, go compare”… We could go on, but the point is these are all memorable catchphrases which tap into the point of repetitiveness, and lead to the ultimate goal for any advert, what we call “ad recall”.
If not all, we are confident you can identify all of the adverts we have alluded to, or, in other words, you can recall them, so they are memorable, possibly for ever.
The point of this exercise is to point out that although we have given a basic layout and profile of a radio advert, creativity is key to becoming memorable. All of the adverts we have sloganized here have one common denominator in their profile, and that is that they are all audible, yes, each of them has visual elements, but it is the audio that we recall and remember, this highlighting to power of radio as the only medium which taps exclusively into the audio sphere.
So, be brief, keep to your primary point, make it easy for the listener to act, and make it memorable. Do that and you will create the perfect advert and have the maximum reach.