7 Mistakes Businesses Make Trying to Write Their Own Radio Ads, Part 1



When it comes to advertising on the radio, it’s common for business owners to feel that they are in the best position to know what needs to be said about their business on the air -- and how to say it.  It’s easy to understand why they feel that way; it IS their business, after all.  However, in most cases, they’re incorrect.  They are no more in a position of expertise on how to advertise their own business than a non-doctor is on how to diagnose his or her own problem.  Unfortunately, there are still those business owners who will go on ahead and write their own radio scripts anyway… and we find that, most of the time, they make the same 7 mistakes...


Whether the script is voiced by a professional voice actor, on-air personality or the business owner who wrote it – the first few frustrating problems immediately become evident once it’s time to record.  These aren’t just differences of opinion or best-practice violations; these are logistical timing conflicts.     


Professionals type the script into a script template that shows us where the 30-second or 60-second limit lies. If a client’s script is too long, we’ll know as soon as we copy it over into our template. Most business owners do not possess this handy little tool and therefore base their 30 or 60 second limit on timing themselves as they read the script out loud or, worse, in their head. What usually happens is the run-through read is more about beating the clock and is actually much faster than what a natural speech pattern can deliver. As a result, the station will have to send the script back to the client with proposed edits, costing everyone more time and delaying the commercial – OR the commercial will be recorded as-is and editing tools will be needed to speed up the audio so it fits within the 30 second limit, resulting in a distractingly rushed commercial (the whole thing ends up sounding like those interest rate disclaimers).


Some business owners DO have that handy little script template that shows where the 30 or 60 second limit is (because we gave it to them or they’re working with an intermediate media company), but they make the common mistake of using numbers instead of words. In other words, “9,999.99” looks short on the page until you write it out the way it will actually be said; “NINE THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED NINETY-NINE AND NINETY-NINE HUNDREDTHS.” Once the script comes to the station to be recorded and all the numbers are spoken – phone numbers, percentage rates, dollars and cents, street addresses, dates and times – the script is now 15 seconds too long.   


This is a common problem no matter who wrote the initial script, because it happens after the initial draft. Whether the professionals wrote it or the business owner wrote it, inevitably the business owner, the business owner’s colleague, the business owner’s spouse, or kids, or friend… someone decided something important was left out. Not only is it usually an inconsequential detail, it’s always the one piece of information that tips the script over the edge of the cliff and into the “running over long” river. In the business owner’s mind everything in the script is of critical importance so they don’t want to cut any part of it to make the new addition fit. In truth, the real problem is probably that there is too much information in the script to begin with – and that leads to the next set of most common mistakes, “The Fallacious Four.”

Read about those in our next blog, Part 2 of “7 Mistakes Businesses Make Trying to Write Their Own Radio Ads.”

10 ways to make sure your radio creative doesn't fall flat

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