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Why Copywriters Love Writing Radio Commercials

Over the years, we’ve produced thousands of radio commercials for clients around the country. Every project is different. Some rely on dialogue, others are driven by music and sound effects, and sometimes there’s a combination. 

For advertising copywriters, radio is one of the most exciting mediums.

You don’t need a big budget, an exotic location, a large crew or an art director to make your idea come to life. Instead, all you need is a great script, the right voiceover artist, and an audio producer who’ll breathe life into the words on the page.

What does a good radio script look (and sound) like?

It’s not an easy thing to answer. For example, sometimes something magical happens in the studio, and a script that looked ‘ho hum’ on paper comes to life with the performance of the voiceover artist. (We have access to some of the best in the country, by the way).

Of course, a few golden rules apply to all good radio commercials.

1. Timing is everything

A radio commercial needs to be written to a specific length of time. This can be 10, 15, 30 or even 60 seconds. Always time your scripts by using a stopwatch (seriously). Also, read your script aloud and factor in everything; allow for sound effects, dramatic pauses, website details and phone numbers. And while we recommend leaving phone numbers out of a script (who remembers them anyway?) If you MUST include one, remember that each digit equals a word.

That’s why reading the script aloud is essential.

If you’re not accurate with your timings, then the brilliant 30-second script you’ve written on your laptop can end up running 35-seconds in the studio (oops!) Then you’ll either need to make edits on the run, or start again with a new script. Either way, it’s not much fun.

2. Grab the listener’s attention (and don’t be boring)

Ok, let’s assume you’ve got your timings right. Is anyone actually going to listen to your radio commercial? In other words, does it have a ‘wow factor’? A great radio script grabs the attention of the listener from the very start. 

Think carefully about who your target is (their age, lifestyle habits, aspirations), the consumer problem, the benefit you’re trying to highlight, plus any insights you have on your target audience. Then, you’ll need to find a way to get your information across in a fresh and memorable way (remember, no one is on the edge of their seat waiting to hear your commercial).

3.      Go easy on the selling points (and the client name)

Another common mistake is including too many selling points and saying so much that the listener can’t process it all, so they simply tune out. Or thinking that good branding is how often you can repeat the client’s name in 30 seconds (it’s not, by the way). 

Good branding is ensuring your intended target tunes into your message and remembers your brand as being able to solve a problem.

4.      Get creative

For most copywriters, this is the fun part. Once you’ve got your brief, really push your ideas. Try and write a few scripts, and when you think you can’t write anymore, have a break and write another couple. 

As Seth Godin once said - “there’s no such thing as writer's block, just writers who have a problem living with bad writing.” Lots of bad writing will unearth great writing. So don’t be scared of writing a bad script or coming up with a lame concept - because in doing that, you’ll inevitably write something amazing!

Like to work with us to produce great radio commercials (or anything else audio?) We’d love to hear from you.

Abe Udy

Abe is the founder of Abe's Audio and started the business in 1998 from his bedroom with an old computer, fax machine, dial-up internet, and a microphone in his wardrobe. Today, he leads a team that provides audio production and voice overs to media, agency, eLearning, video & creative clients around Australia and beyond.

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