12 Ways to Completely Ruin Your Radio Ads

12 ways to screw up your radio ads

The creative department at Zimmer is made up of a trained team of marketing ninjas. They are true professionals who have mastered the art of finding a business's competitive edge and transforming that edge into an award-winning, response-generating campaign. They are the best of the best at their craft. So…want to know what takes these talented artisans and normally calm, focused individuals and causes them to bang their heads against a wall, practically weeping in exasperation?

We have prepared a list of the top 12 advertising atrocities that should be avoided at all costs. These 12 are sure-fire ways to completely kill a brand’s credibility and sabotage a campaign’s success: 

1. No Call-to-Action.

Failure to tell your audience how to respond after hearing the ad. What do you want them to do? Include a call-to-action (CTA) that invites them to do something: visit your website, call, stop in, etc. Make it easy for a listener to respond…let them know what you want them to do after hearing your ad. Without a CTA, it’s just expensive entertainment. 

2. Wrong Target Audience

Just because it’s the station YOU listen to, doesn’t mean your customers do. Know the profile of your target consumer and then find the radio station whose audience demographic best matches that profile. It’s not about what you like, and it’s not even about who has the most listeners…it’s about which station is the best fit for your ideal customer persona. 

3. Kitchen Sink Ads

If we ever hear another “for all your ___ needs” in an ad, it will be too soon. Not only is this boring, antiquated and unoriginal…it completely bombs at telling your business’ story and why someone should shop with you versus your competition. It doesn’t share your competitive distinction and makes you sound exactly like your competition. 


4. Waste of Time Info

Nobody…and I mean nobody…ever reached for a pen after hearing a radio ad and wrote down the address, phone number, and website. Brand your business name in a way that is memorable. People will find you - Google will see to it. Never waste valuable time sharing your phone number, or street address. Even a website listing in your radio ad is questionable. The only exceptions are if your business is super hard to find or if your website is super easy to remember. Also, drop the “www-dot” if you do share your website. It’s not needed. 

5. Lame Offers

Enough of offering weak discounts and expecting people to flock to your store. An old marketing rule states that 40% of your campaign success is in talking to the right audience (see #2) and 40% is about making the right offer. (The remaining 20% is everything else.) If your offer isn’t compelling enough to motivate people to stop what they are doing and respond, it won’t work. 

6. Irrelevant InformationThe-Basic-Building-Blocks-of-a-Radio-Campaign

You may be super tempted to include information that means absolutely nothing to anybody listening. “We’ve been in business 435 years!” or “My father started this business back in 1847.” The truth is, nobody cares. It isn’t relevant to wanting people to shop with you, won’t motivate someone to choose you over the competition, and wastes valuable ad space. Actually, information like that could backfire if consumers see you as old, outdated, and out-of-touch. 

7. Ever started your ad with a closed-ended question?

Good…don’t. If you start your ad with a closed-ended question, you run the risk that the listener mentally says ‘no’ and then you’ve just lost them. In a split second, a listener decides that the rest of your ad isn’t relevant to them and will tune it out, missing out on important information you want them to hear.  

8. Best Customer Service Claims (or other worn-out cliches)

Literally, everybody and their brother, at some point in time, try to use cliches in their ad. “We have the best selections - the friendliest staff - the best service”, etc. Nobody believes you because everybody claims to have it. Instead, tell stories that demonstrate real examples of how your customer service went above and beyond to wow your customers. Those stories will be remembered and believed. 

9. 2 people talking

These ads are the ones with 2 random people having a fake conversation in a fake situation and trying to sound authentic. The only place this type of ad sounds good is in your own head. It doesn’t work and ends up sounding super awkward. Sometimes national brands can pull it off because they have resources you don't and their actors are really, really good (Sonic anyone?). Unless you're a national brand that can hire professional actors, our advice is to use another method for getting your point across. 

New call-to-action

10. Voicing Your Own Ad

Your ad campaign is an investment, and probably a sizeable one. For that reason, don’t voice your own ad. Honestly, it's rarely anything more than an ego move and often makes your ad sound less than professional. Trained broadcasters and voice actors are schooled in the art of recording audio the right way. Just because you can voice your ad doesn’t mean you should. They risk making your ads sound low-budget. Then, we have to have an awkward conversation telling you so. If you want to try, that's fine. But be open to the possibility that it may be a better option to let the professional broadcasters and voice actors do what they do best. 

One caveat to this would be in a commercial tag. Commercial tags, the last 8-5 seconds at the end of the ad, can be a great place to hear a local voice and bring a personal feel to their campaign. "Hi, this is Joe with Joe's Professional Roofing. Find out for yourself why professionalism is part of our name. Give me a call today.

11. Too Many Sound Effects

Sound effects are fun! They can enhance the theatre of the mind and create a compelling story in the listener's mind. That being said, too much of a good thing…is a bad thing. Don’t let your ad become too busy. Carefully decide if they are actually needed, and use them ONLY if they enhance what you are trying to prove. If not, then stay away. 

12. Be a Wimp

If you want to stand out, be brave, be bold, and be memorable. Your job is to get your business noticed and remembered, and sometimes that requires pushing the envelope. If your ad campaign is boring and vanilla, so will your results. Some of the most remembered ads are ones that took a risk. Mae West said it best, “I’d rather be looked over than overlooked.

So there you go. Drop these 12 like hot potatoes and get on your way to building an ad campaign that drives results. If you’re wanting to see what it’s like to hire the pros, give us a call. The initial consultation is free - and we are a lot of fun to work with!


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