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Radio Advertising Dos and Don'ts

Updated: Apr 19, 2022

You have the ear and attention of thousands of Calgarians - Now what are you going to say?

First time advertisers are often under the impression that if they can just buy radio advertising then it should work for them, and that if it doesn't, that radio as a medium doesn't work. The truth is, you really need to engage with a radio advertising partner who will set you up for success, not just sell you something at a low price.

When purchasing radio advertising initially you may be attracted to the station you listen to, or a certain format like Top 40, Classic Rock, News, etc - and there can be some conventions there that make sense... but frankly, the format doesn't matter nearly as much as the audience. That' what you're really purchasing, is the opportunity to talk to thousands of Calgarians at once - now you need to know what to say (and what not to say!)

How often have you heard an ad that sounds something like this:

"Trust ABC widgets, a local company with 40 years experience in the widget industry. ABC Widgets are the experts for widgets that do x, y, z, and more, and we offer the highest service and quality with a lowest price guarantee. Visit for more details and for your free consultation"

This ad is an example of an all to common format that relies on expected cliches - it is tempting to go to these conventions because you believe they are all important to your customer but the fact of the matter is: Your customer EXPECTS credibility, high level service, high quality, and competitive pricing. What can you say that will surprise and delight your audience? What will motivate them to take action today? To switch providers? To give you a shot?

You can surprise your listeners in many ways, and each of those ways will create a bigger impact in your advertising. Humor is surprising, in fact laughter usually comes when someone is relieved at a situation not being what it seems. Punchlines are effective because they surprise and relieve the listener. Think about what often surprises your clients in your discussions with them: Next day delivery, free installation, a huge discount offer, a distinct difference in your product that nobody else does... those are the highlights you need to bring to the forefront of your ads.

You're the expert on your business, and know it inside and out. Radio representatives need to respect that, and they should earn your respect by having the guts to tell you what they believe will really work.

Yielding to customer's demands, frankly, can be lazy, short sighted, and ultimately disastrous. For example, imagine you hired a plumber to plumb your new bathroom renovation, and then as they are working you hover over their shoulder, telling them which pipes to connect, which tools to use, and how you want everything plumbed to an exact spec. When your bathroom floods, who should take responsibility? Do you blame the plumber who was trying to do exactly what you said? Or do you back away and let them do what they're professionally trained and licensed to do?

A great radio or advertising representative should know their craft, trust their experience and team. You don't pay radio to say what you want, you pay radio to teach you how to speak to it's audience. Rely on the expertise of their creative teams, production professionals, sales people to give you great advice to set you up to succeed, because when you do, you will forge a long term partnership that is beneficial to you, the clients who need you, and the radio partner you work with.

Want to learn more about creative messaging and hear examples of award winning radio ads in your industry? Contact me today and I will share strategies, campaign deployment options, and examples of messaging that will bring your business more opportunities.

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