12 Tips for Direct Response Radio Ads that Work
by Dean Rieck
Radio listeners are highly responsive. And radio spots are powerful, cheap, and simple to produce. Yet radio remains one of the most underused and poorly handled weapons in the direct marketing arsenal.
It's difficult to sell a product directly from a radio spot. But if you have a product with wide appeal, you can use radio to generate calls for your phone reps, build a direct mail list, or send traffic to your Web site.
Here are a few pointers for creating simple but effective direct response radio ads:
- Buy 60-second spots. The radio sales rep will tell you that 30-second spots are cheaper and easier to place. That's true. But 30 seconds usually isn't long enough to develop and deliver a selling message. With 60-second spots, you'll get twice as much time for just a little more money per spot.
- Use a straight announcer pitch. People are working, driving, cleaning the house, and doing all sorts of things in less than ideal listening conditions. So keep it simple. Just have an announcer talk directly to listeners. This has the added advantage of being more personal and less expensive than spots filled with actors and sound effects.
- Identify and solve a problem. If you're selling an herbal product that gives people more energy, you should first identify the problem (lack of energy) then offer your product as the solution (more energy). "Feeling tired? Achy? Don't have the energy for the things you used to enjoy? Try new Vita-Herb. Vita-Herb will boost your energy, erase those aches and pains, and let you enjoy life again."
- Make a dramatic promise. This will strengthen your solution and make it more appealing. "Vita-Herb will make you feel ten years younger in just ten days!" The more dramatic and specific your promise, the better.
- Guarantee results. Just as a promise strengthens your solution, a guarantee strengthens your promise. Again, be as specific as you can. "Try Vita-Herb for yourself. If you don't feel ten years younger in the first ten days, just send it back and we'll buy you a bottle of your favorite herb supplement. No questions asked."
- Offer something free. Since time is short and products can't be seen on the radio, it's hard to make direct sales. It's far more effective to offer information or samples to generate inquiries then make sales through telemarketing and direct mail. If you're selling a Posture Perfect Mattress, you could offer a free video. Then when you send the video, you could include a special $100 savings voucher. You can follow up with direct mail, phone calls, and additional information and offers.
- Drive listeners to your Web site. This is an alternative to generating inquiries by phone. The trick is to capture information when people arrive at your site. If you're selling a self-study course on starting a business, you could offer a free report on the 25 fastest growing businesses. Then give people a Web address that takes them to a special page where they must enter a name and address to get the report. This way, you'll build a database for more targeted marketing.
- Present a clear call to action. Don't be subtle. If you're offering a free brochure on a weight loss product, the announcer can simply say, "To request your free brochure on losing weight, call 1-800-LESS-FAT." If you don't tell people what to do directly, simply, and specifically, they won't do it.
- Use a memorable phone number or Web address. A number such as 1-800-ABCDEFG (for a reading program) or Web address such as www.faxbook.com (for a brochure on fax machines) can be easily remembered and acted upon. To fix it in your listener's memory, repeat it at least three times.
- Force response with a time limit. The more specific, the better. "Call in the next thirty minutes for your free one-week sample of new Hair-Gain Hair Restoration Formula." If people know they have to respond immediately, they will. If they think they can wait till later, you probably will never hear from them.
- Focus on response. Don't settle for awareness. And don't rely on repetition, no matter what the radio sales rep tells you. You should be getting measurable response every time your ad runs. If you aren't getting response, your ad isn't working. And repeating the ad won't help.
- Use humor carefully. From a selling standpoint, humor is hit-or-miss. And you always run the risk of upstaging the selling message. You can be lighthearted and friendly, of course, but you'll usually get a better response with a simple, straightforward delivery.
Copyright © 2003 Dean Rieck. All Rights Reserved.
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