A radio advertisement rarely goes beyond 60 seconds – so radio ad scripts get less a minute to convince listeners to buy a product.
To quote legendary advertiser George Lois, “I think advertising should be like poison gas. It should grip you by the throat…”This is especially necessary with radio ads because you have about 30 seconds before your audience moves onto the next thing.
Because of the time restrictions, radio ad scripts have to be simple and precise. Usually, an attention-grabbing introduction starts, followed by some benefit of the product, and lastly comes the call to action that prompts the listener to act.
But let’s be honest here, a lot of radio ads sound the same. It’s all about:
“Wow, this is delicious! What’s your secret?”
“…check out our INSANE prices”
There is no secret formula for writing the perfect radio ad script – that’s what makes this advertisement medium so powerful. But if there was a formula, it would probably be something like:
In your radio ad scripts, always offer some valuable information that listeners can sink their teeth into.
And it all starts with knowing what kind of ad your script is for.
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This post was updated in April 2021
Types of Radio Ad Scripts
Radio ads come in different formats; live and pre-recorded. Live ads haven’t undergone any production, so they lack any sound effects or editing that pre-recorded radio ads have.
Here is a more detailed breakdown;
This ad features one announcer reading from a script.
You’ve probably had a jingle stuck in your head at some point. The music plays at the beginning and end of the ad and an announcer’s voice reads in the middle.
This radio ad aims to inspire familiarity and recognition among listeners. If an advertisement can get you singing, then it had done its job.
This ad features two or more voice talents that dramatize the message. They can talk about the product, give testimonials, and ask questions that are relevant to the listeners.
To determine which format to use, first identify the main benefit of your product.
Restaurants and malls tend to do well with situational radio ads. More complicated ads are best suited to live reads. Jingles evoke a sense of immediacy so they are best for advertising limited-time offers.
How to Write a Radio Ad Script
As in any other form of advertising, it all starts with understanding your product. Who is it for and what are its main benefits?
Here is an example of a radio ad script you’d like;
MAN: Yeeeeeeeooooooooooowwwwwww, that’s hot!
ANNCR: Joe’s Indian Restaurant. The spiciest food in town.
This script has everything. An attention-grabbing introduction, the product benefit, and a call to action.
Writing a radio ad script is about answering these three questions;
What Makes your Product Better?
Find your unique selling points.
In the advertisement example above, the long scream at the beginning grabs the listeners’ attention, and just when they are ready to hear what comes next, the ad presents the product benefit.
Your script should position the product being advertised in such a way that it solves a problem.
But don’t be too technical about the benefits of your product. When advertising a car on the radio, you won’t hear the announcer talk about engine specs or the size of the rims. Instead, you’ll hear grand statements that don’t really get into the technical features.
Case in point, this Honda ad;
ANNCR: (slow and deep) Want a sneak peek of the new Honda CRV Black Edition? Close your eyes…
(Very long pause)
The Honda CRV Black Edition…the power of an SUV…the clever thinking of a Honda. All in black.
See it for yourself, at Henry’s Honda, Crossmyloof, Glasgow.
Who are You Selling To?
Radio advertising works because it targets specific demographics. To connect with your listeners, you need to make them feel like your ad relates to their problems.
How can your product help your audience? And how do you make the listener care about your solution?
“Do you have crippling student loan debt and no idea how to get out?”
This statement empathizes with listeners (people in debt) and makes them anticipate a solution. But first, you need to define who your listeners are. Loyal or potential customers? Impulsive or relationship buyers? Price or discount customers?
This knowledge will help you decide the kind of language you will use on your radio ad script.
Also, remember to use the words ‘you’ and ‘your’ a lot to make the listeners feel included. Saying ‘save money with this promo code’ sounds different from ‘you’ll save money with this promo code.’
What Response do You Hope to Get?
This is where the call to action comes in, but be careful not to overdo it. You can include your website address in the ad, but only if it’s necessary. Your script needs to be memorable, so including boilerplate information (like phone numbers and street addresses) seems like overkill.
If your radio script is good enough, listeners will look up your information.
Choice of Words
This is where it gets tricky.
You need to inspire your listeners, not instruct them. You have less than a minute, and your listeners are probably preoccupied with something else while listening to the radio plays in the background.
Use words that cut through the noise and slap the listener’s ears. Remember, good advertising should grip you by the throat.
Like with any marketing technique, focus on the selling points of your product (keywords). But to really grab the attention of your listeners, use words that you don’t hear in normal conversation. Don’t be afraid to use odd words. When your ad comes on, it should shock listeners into paying attention.
But don’t just stick to the words. Since there are no visuals, you can elevate your radio ad script by using language that paints a picture for the listener. Like the Honda ad above:
ANNCR: (slow and deep) Want a sneak peek of the new Honda CRV Black Edition? Close your eyes…
This introduction alone is enough to captivate a listener who wants nothing more than to drive a Honda.
Formatting A Radio Ad Script
Radio ad scripts are formatted into two columns. On the left column are your speaking characters, and on the right column is the dialogue plus sound effects.
At the top of the script, write the name of your client, the writer, the script length, and the name of the radio ad spot.
How Long Should a Radio Ad Script Be?
It depends on your message, and the length of time your ad will run for. You may want to decide on the length of your script depending on your budget, but that is a wrong move.
Never compromise your radio ad script for anything. Your script should be as long as it needs to be to convince the audience.
60-Second Ads (150 words)
If your message is long and complicated, go for a 60-second ad that allows you to include more information in your script.
You should also go for a longer script if your product is new to the market and needs a bit of time to resonate with the right audience. Include contact information at least twice in a 60-second radio ad script.
30-Second Ads (75 words)
When selling a simple product, a short script works best. A simple message, however, doesn’t mean a weak message.
If the radio ad script is poorly written, not even the best vocals and music can convert listeners.
15-Second Ads (37 words)
This is the hardest ad to write, but it is worth the effort.
15-second ads are even more precise, simpler, and more straightforward. They are perfect if your business is already established and a simple name mention is enough to remind listeners why they love your products.
Putting it All Together
Follow this structure when writing radio ad scripts;
This is the first statement, and you need your audience to hear it. Try starting with a question;
“Do you suffer from crippling headaches?”
Or you can start with an unexpected statement;
“Headaches are not all bad. You get to stay at home and catch up on your favorite shows….”
Don’t just tell your audience what you are selling, make them feel it. You can never go wrong with an emotional script that truly connects to your listeners.
Like this McDonald ad;
MALE DRIVER: The roads have emptied. Only us left. Kids sleeping in back. Cat’s eyes shine bright. White lines roll by. The rhythm of the street lights. Radio hums quietly. Rain starts. Hypnotic wipers. Pull in. Hot latte and apple pie. Ease back into the darkness.
ANNCR: Over 600 McDonald’s open 24 hours. We are awake.
Try to be frank and honest when describing the product (even if it makes more sense to exaggerate your claims). Additionally, be specific. Any claims about the product or service should be exact.
A good radio ad script empathizes with listeners. Tell them what they know, fear or suspect is true – and then offer a solution.
Call to Action
Now that you are done telling your audience all about your new offer, how will they find you? The call to action tells listeners to act, so it should be written carefully.
A good call to action statement matches the purpose of the advert.
If you want to boost sales, tell people to ‘call now’ and ‘visit us now.’ For brand awareness, direct listeners to your website and social media pages.
If your radio advert is meant to introduce a new product to the market, consider prompting the audience to check out what you have to offer.
Final Thoughts on Radio Ad Scripts
Again, time is not on your side with radio ad scripts, so get to the point as quickly as possible without sounding too pushy. A radio ad script is exactly like an elevator pitch – short and sharp.
Keep your sentences direct. You probably shouldn’t use double innuendos in your radio ad script as they can confuse your listeners. Also, remember that timing is everything, so read through your script to make sure it is exactly as long as it needs to be.
Need pro help with your radio ads scripts? Give us a holler and we’ll have the ad of your dreams ready in a flash!