If you like this blog post and want more expert advice on performance marketing, direct marketing, direct response advertising, please share it. Thank you!

Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on reddit
Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on whatsapp

This Blog Post's Table of Contents

How to Create Direct Response Radio Ads and Make Them Pay: The Guide for 2021 and Beyond (Including Examples and a Swipe File).

If you like this blog post and want more expert advice on performance marketing, direct marketing, direct response advertising, please share it. Thank you!

Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on reddit
Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on whatsapp

This Blog Post's Table of Contents

Radio listeners are incredibly receptive to direct response tactics. On the one hand, radio commercials are remarkably effective, inexpensive, and simple to create. On the other hand, radio is one of the most underutilized and mishandled tools in the performance marketing industry.

Performance-based radio commercials are not great for one-step sales, but they are fantastic for two-step sales. You may use radio advertisements to develop a prospect list for lead generation purposes, and use email, direct mail, telemarketing, Facebook custom audiences, Google Ads customer match, or other sales lead programs if you have a product with broad appeal.

Radio commercials can also help drive traffic to a website, landing page or social media accounts.

Here are some tips for making successful direct response radio campaigns that will produce phone calls, sales, leads, and clicks.

Why Direct Response Radio in 2021 and Beyond

Radio advertising has a unique set of advantages for performance marketers:

  • Businesspeople, country-western enthusiasts, classical music aficionados, and others can be targeted effectively by radio stations with specialized formats.
  • Testing on a local level is affordable, and most costs are negotiable.
  • Radio networks have a huge reach across the country.
  • Ability to go live nearly instantly – copy may be composed one minute and read by an announcer the next. Even studio-produced ads are quick to put together.
  • Because the imagery is provided by the listener’s imagination rather than a costly photographer or video production house, radio advertisements are inexpensive to make. Radio time is often also less expensive per thousand people reached than web advertisements, print ads, or television.
  • Radio allows you to be selective since it offers a wide range of program formats, each appealing to a certain demographic (diverse types of formats are listed later).
  • You can quickly and simply update your messages. You may quickly have fresh advertisements on the air. If required, an advertisement can be created, recorded, and read live on the same day.
  • You may talk to consumers over the radio at any time of day and in any situation that is most likely to elicit a sales reaction.
  • Radio can reach almost any customer sector, including those who do not read print publications or use the Internet on a regular basis. Radio allows you to target your audience based on demographics, psychographics, and location.
  • Radio’s efficacy is boosted by the world’s deteriorating traffic problem. People who are caught in traffic have a lot of free time on their hands. They will listen to direct response radio ads and reply to them via their mobile phones. Direct response advertisers should purchase drive-time advertisements in high-traffic regions.
  • Radio appeals directly to the listener, one on one. The reason is that radio is still, in the mind of the listener, live.

And then there are some disadvantages:

  • Much the same as television: a fleeting medium with nothing written down. Listeners may switch stations when commercials are heard.
  • Except for a few networks, it is a difficult and complex job to obtain national reach via radio. Scaling internationally is even more difficult due to different regulations and practices.
  • No visuals and no response device.
  • Reports of listening audience may be exaggerated since many use radio as background noise or have no proper audience measurement.

Select An Appropriate Product for Direct Response Radio

When choosing a direct response product for radio, make sure it has all the qualities that broad performance marketing campaigns require, such as – preferably – universal appeal, uniqueness, and sufficient markup.

The successful use of radio does not necessarily require a product with broad mass appeal (although that is always a plus). Products that serve niche markets can be ideal candidates if customer characteristics have a good match with the profile of a particular radio station.

While radio does not require that your product be demonstrable, it needs a product which resolves an issue the consumer has and can be easily explained.

For instance, if you are selling a dietary supplement that makes people feel more energized, your radio commercial should first identify the problem (tiredness) before offering your product as a remedy (no tiredness). “Are you exhausted? Achy? Have you lost your passion for the things you used to enjoy? Try out the new Product X. Product X will give you more energy, relieve your aches and pains, and allow you to enjoy life once again.”

Your product needs to support a direct, strong promise. “Product X will help you feel ten years younger in only ten days!”

Your product’s promise should be as dramatic and clear as possible. (More on radio copywriting for direct response offers in a moment.)

Many performance marketing commercials can be as motivating on radio as they are online or on TV. For example, if a product is not demonstrable, then a radio commercial can be just as effective as any ad in a “visual” medium.

For example, books, subscriptions, insurance policies, and industry equipment are difficult to demonstrate. Therefore, it is often preferable to use only words to sell these products, rather than pictures.

Craft The Direct Response Radio Offer

To enhance your chance of success of your radio campaign you should provide your copywriter with a strong offer to describe. Discuss it with your legal team first.

  1. Guarantee that the consumer will get the results. A powerful guarantee reinforces your promise in the same way that a promise reinforces your solution to consumer’s issues. Be as precise and exciting as possible. “Try Product X. Simply return it if you don’t feel 10 years younger in the first ten days, and we’ll get you a bottle of your favorite supplement AND give your money back. No questions asked.”
  2. Consider a free offer. Straight sales are difficult to make since airtime is limited and the listener cannot see what he or she is getting on the radio. Offering information or samples to generate inquiries is likely to be more successful and then making sales through other methods afterwards. You may give out a free video if you are selling a back pain relief product. Then, when you deliver the video, attach a complimentary $50 discount coupon. Following up with direct mail, email, phone calls, and Facebook custom audience targeting may be the best next steps to take.
  3. Encourage listeners to visit your landing page. This is an alternate approach to answering phone calls. It is key to collect customer information as soon as they arrive at your site. You might give them a free report on the 25 fastest growing enterprises if you are offering a self-study course on establishing a business. Then direct them to a special landing page where they must submit their name and address in order to receive the report. You will be able to develop a database for more focused and laser-targeted marketing this way.
  4. Introduce time restriction for your offer to enhance response. “Call within the next 90 seconds for a free secret gift.” People will reply quickly if they know they must. You will very certainly never hear from them if they believe they can wait till later. People do not want to miss excellent offers, it is fundamental human nature. Therefore, set a deadline to force a quick answer. If you want to change the deadline later, all you have to do is re-record a few seconds of audio and send the updated spots to radio stations. You may generate urgency by making the offer strictly limited, implying that it may never be made again or that it will be discontinued on Saturday, or by offering a significant discount to those who act before a specified date.
  5. Consider special promotions. A holiday sale, a grand opening, an anniversary sale, and a “this week only” promotions all work well on radio.
  6. Make your offer simple. This is why the statistics show so much lead generation on radio. If a product or the overall offer requires more than 60 seconds of explanation to give listeners a clear and compelling reason to buy, a lead generation spot, featuring a 1-800 number, will likely be more successful. This presents a particular problem for product categories such as financial services and medicines, where disclosure requirements are important. These categories do not lend themselves well to radio sales, although a two-step process may be used.

Choose The Direct Response Radio Ad’s Length

In a limited amount of time, your performance marketing radio advertising must achieve quite a lot. It must include an attention grabber, a problem, a solution, a money-back promise, and proof, as well as a phone number and URL address that must be repeated several times.

Therefore, the length of the commercial should be determined by how long it takes to sell the product.

Depending on a country, government restrictions may limit radio commercials length. Some jurisdictions have no limits, some let you have up to 120 seconds in radio ad length, and some just 30 seconds.

Allow yourself more than enough time to sell. The majority of radio commercials are 30 to 60 seconds long. Buying time for a 30 second spot is easier and less expensive. A 60 second one, on the other hand, offers you twice as much time to make your pitch and does not cost twice (more on buying airtime in a moment).

Simple lead generation offers, or well-known items will often work with a 30 second spot. However, making a 60 work is nearly always easier. My advice is to test both when in doubt. If you only have time to test one, go with the 60 seconds.

A 5-, 10-, 15-, or 30-minute long-form radio ads often provide consumer education of some kind. They allow the copywriter to walk the listener through a step-by-step demonstration, guaranteeing that anybody can achieve the spectacular results, which are promised, only in a few minutes, days, or weeks.

This step-by-step method is popular in dietary supplement niche as well as in a real-estate investing seminars which move the audience from poor to rich in “30 days or less”.

Ads that are 15 or 30 minutes long are sometimes structured like an interview show with commercials mixed in. A diet specialist, for example, may be questioned about efficient weight-loss strategies. The station would inject the sponsor’s diet-product ads in between interview parts.

Another 15-minute direct response commercial may have a well-known author or lecturer discussing his or her subject of expertise. Direct response radio commercials for video courses or membership sites on the lecture’s topic would be inserted throughout the presentation.

Although it may appear challenging for a copywriter to maintain an audience’s attention for long 15 minutes rather than for short 60 seconds, it is really easier to keep an audience’s attention for 15 minutes than it is for 60 seconds.

In the longer format the copywriter has enough time to introduce the components of interest that will keep the audience’s attention.

First Steps in Creating Your Direct Response Radio Ad

While direct response radio can be effective, it is sometimes harmed or demolished by poor writing. Radio, more than any other medium, places a premium on copy quality.

Direct response radio advertising, even for a small local advertiser, should not be run without a master copy platform. This is a single document that guides your radio copywriters in what they are going to write about. It gives direction to the copy and the commercials.

The copy platform might include items such as:

  • what the product is,
  • what are the features, benefits, and advantages,
  • which benefits should be highlighted in the copy,
  • which features must be mentioned (e.g., hours of operation, location),
  • unique value proposition the commercial must convey,
  • marketing claims matrix,
  • sales goals and marketing objectives of the radio ad campaign.

Consider what claims and benefits you will need to sell the product before you start creating a radio commercial. Integrate the benefits into your writing with an attention-getting, interest-maintaining script that will keep the potential consumer from changing the radio station.

Choose The Right Direct Response Radio Format

Find a suitable creative format. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to writing a radio script, but there are a few tried-and-true formats to get you started. Here are six that are effective in conveying information and encouraging listeners to call.

  1. Announcer – Nothing could be more straightforward than a single powerful voice speaking directly to the listener. Not yelling but talking. Simple, straight, and straightforward copy should be used. The announcer should speak as though he or she is speaking to a single individual. You do not have to give a lecture. You may also ask questions. “Have you ever had the opportunity to…?”, “Wouldn’t it be nice if…?” This bare-bones approach may stand out from the crowd and truly capture listeners if delivered in the correct tone. (This is my favorite as it is the easiest format to create, rewrite for other products, and translate to other languages when scaling internationally.)
  2. Dialogue – People enjoy listening to other people speak as long as it is engaging. One of the possible conversation subformats is to have one person who is familiar with a product or service and another who is unfamiliar with it but might benefit from it. One person asks questions, while the other presents the offer and any necessary details. You will have what amounts to a recommendation or a testimonial if you utilize voices that match the demographics of your listeners and have a realistic dialogue at the same time.
  3. Scene – Begin your radio ad with a brief slice of life scene that depicts a dilemma, challenge, or problem. Then there is a cut to an announcer describing your product or service as the answer. If there is time, go back to the characters in the slice of life to illustrate how the product or service has improved, simplified, or made things more profitable for them. You will, of course, return to the announcer for the call to action and the 800 number or landing page address.
  4. Vox pop – The tried-and-true person on the street short interview is an excellent choice for items with broad appeal since it is simple to create and very realistic. Ask real people about the product. Encourage them to explain how it has benefitted them. Inquire as to whether they would recommend it to their friends. Although not all of the responses will be articulate, receiving positive feedback from real people is the finest recommendation you can have. It is also an excellent format for comparing products in real time.
  5. Testimonials – Take it a step further and have individuals speak directly to the audience, discussing how they used the product and extolling its advantages. Experts, celebrities, and regular folks can be included.
  6. Story – Everyone enjoys a good anecdote. It is difficult to do this right in less than 60 seconds. It requires a believable, short storyline and an announcer who is aware of the situation’s drama. You create a situation that must be overcome, much like a good short story. The audience must be able to recognize themselves in the scenario and perceive themselves as a participant in it. And the action’s resolution depends on the product or service.

Revise, Edit and Evaluate Your Radio Copy

The first stage in crafting a successful radio advertisement is to write whatever springs to mind, with little concern for continuity or product characteristics. Without concern for length or proof, your initial effort at any radio copy should have the most optimistic and persuasive sales pitch you can conceive.

Begin revising your advertisement once you have written all you believe it will take to persuade the audience to buy the product. This initial revision should concentrate on providing a more accurate description of the product’s performance while ignoring continuity and time.

The second revision should start to tie the advertisement together logically. You should begin editing for commercial length, logical continuity, believability, and other factors when you revise for the third, fourth, and fifth times.

Remember that you are not restricted to a single voice or a continuous stand-up pitch delivery when you begin the writing process. Sometimes the radio ad’s approach or premise is more valuable.

Read your piece aloud once you have finished it. On paper, copy that appears to be well-structured will not sound spontaneous when spoken. It will be stifling. The spoken language is not always conveyed in full sentences. It is more like a collection of incomplete sentences. Write the radio copy in the same manner as you talk (but take out all the ums, uhs, and you knows).

If you have difficulties writing in a conversational tone, record your thoughts on a voice recorder and have a transcript created from the audio. Read the transcript aloud to yourself. You will be able to tell the difference between spoken and written text right away.

Note that excellent radio ads are never written; instead, they are constantly modified, revised, and rewritten!

Finally, once you have created the most effective sales presentation imaginable, you will need to get approval from the legal department. Still, the goal of a copywriter is to produce persuasive, often hard-sell copy… do not attempt to be an attorney!

The Direct Response Radio Commercial Structure

When it comes to direct response radio commercials, there are as many different ways to begin them as there are products and services to offer. However, there are many components you have to include in a radio spot in order to be successful.

  1. First and foremost, the commercial must have a compelling hook. If you do not capture listeners’ attention in the first ten seconds, you will not capture their attention in the following 50 seconds.
  2. Next, you must provide all of the essential information, such as the product name, the price (if applicable), and a phone number or website URL where it can be purchased, among other things.
  3. Third, you must request that the order be placed immediately. Instruct your prospect to make a purchase. People are being asked to purchase something, even if it is simply an idea, in even the most innocuous, non-direct response, institutional advertisements that are solely designed to promote goodwill and the corporate name.
  4. The fourth and final aspect that should be carefully addressed is the emotional mood or approach that you want to employ to capture and hold the listener’s attention and maintain it. It is possible to be sociable, joyful, respectable, thrilling, mystifying, funny, sad, emotional, passionate, peaceful, aggressive, flamboyant, and absurd, to mention a few traits. You may also be secretive and enigmatic. It is critical to select the appropriate mood. The only one with which you need exercise caution is comedy. When it comes to comedy, it is not always effective; even if the commercial is excellent, things are only amusing when they are new.

All of the other details, such as secondary announcers and sound effects, soundtrack, and jingles, will be dictated by the unique selling proposition of your product or service, which will be described in your master copy platform.

Make your message specific to your target audience. As with other types of direct response advertising, it is a good idea to customize your pitch as much as possible to your target demographic before producing and airing it.

There are two primary types of radio programming: talk radio and music radio. Talk radio is the most popular type of radio programming with performance marketing businesses. When you broadcast on Talk radio, your audience has tuned in expressly to hear what you have to say.

Advertising in this format must be designed to persuade listeners to stick with it. It must either blend in with the ongoing conversation or pique the listener’s curiosity with informative content to be successful.

When listening to music radio, the music is the focus, but it is also frequently used as background noise. In this context, a spot is an interruption. It must stand out from the background noise and pique the listener’s interest before he or she changes the channel or mentally tunes out of the station.

And do not forget to use testimonials. In order to bridge the credibility gap, celebrity and professional testimonials should be considered. Consumer testimonials are unquestionably among the most powerful sales tools available to any marketer.

10 Tips for Writing Direct Response Radio Ads That Work

  1. Use a pitch similar to that of a radio announcer. People are working, commuting, cooking, and doing a variety of other tasks in less-than-ideal listening settings. So, keep it straightforward. Forget about being funny. Simply have the speaker address the audience directly. This also has the benefit of being more personal and far less costly than ads with actors and special effects.
  2. Make a strong call to action. Do not try to be subtle. If you are giving away a free weight-loss video course, the speaker might clearly say, “To get your completely free weight-loss video course, call 1-800-555-555. Call now, 1-800-555-555. It’s 1-800-555-555.” People will not do what you want them to do until you tell them clearly, plainly, and explicitly.
  3. Make your phone number or web address memorable, easy, and easy to spell. A phone number like 1-800-900-100 or a site like www.getproductxforfree.com are easy to remember and respond to. Repeat it at least three times to help your audience remember it.
  4. Keep things as basic as possible. A radio commercial is over in a blink of an eye. It is not possible to evaluate its contents at any time. As a result, radio is not the place for long lists of features or corporate nonsense. To elicit a phone call, you must first capture the listener’s interest, then provide a meaningful offer. Select your customer quickly. Get the attention of your customer fast. Flag them down before they have a chance to change stations. Concentrate on a single concept and make most of it. Be direct and clear or your message may become subject to distractions.
  5. Make your selling concept number one. A pervasive belief exists across the advertising and marketing industries that Creativity with a capital “C” is the most effective selling weapon available. It is a notion that results in brilliant, hilarious, and creative advertisements that do not work when they are released, as people have many more options for true entertainment. Your major selling concept should be the first thing, just like it should be on any other kind of performance-based media. It should feature prominently. It should dominate the creative concept fully. To put it simply, if you can remove the product from the radio ad while still maintaining a coherent concept, you are not selling. Create an advertisement that emphasizes the product, the phone number, the offer, or your value proposition.
  6. Write with both the ear and the eye in mind. Anyone who believes that you cannot “show” anything over the radio is mistaken. It is not for nothing that it is referred to as “theater of the mind”! Use announcer copy and sound effects to help listeners picture a scene. For example, if you are selling tax-deferred mutual funds for retirement, do not just look at a list of benefits. Instead, help listeners get more involved by assisting them in seeing the practical rewards of a comfortable retirement: “Picture yourself basking on a Caribbean beach, reading your favorite author, and sipping an exotic drink. And you know you can stay here for as long as you like, because for the very first time there’s no work waiting for you back home. You’re retired. And this vacation will last for the rest of your life.” The sounds of sea gulls and the lapping of waves on a beach will work together to create an unforgettable vision for everyone who has ever dreamed of retiring in comfort. Stretch the listener’s imagination. Take your listeners somewhere they have never been before, or better yet, somewhere they are dying to go.
  7. Identify the sound effects that you want to use. There are two things you should know about radio: you cannot see what is going on and many sounds seem the same. A woodland stream that should sound like babbling might sound more like water going down a bathroom sink instead. Therefore, be certain that your narration or conversation correctly sets the scene. You may come out and say, “I’m standing next to a river”. Alternatively, incorporate the setting into the opening dialog: “This creek isn’t good for fish.” But keep the music simple. Do not let it overpower the selling message in the words. Find a memorable sound or a distinctive voice, a jingle, anything that will make your message stand out.
  8. Establish name identification as early as possible and as frequently as possible. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who began by providing you with a slew of irrelevant facts before getting to the point? Is not that tiring? It is a practice known as “burying the lead” in the newspaper industry. It is especially dangerous in a radio advertisement when you just have 30 or 60 seconds to get your message through. The name of the product, free booklet, or whatever you are offering should be mentioned early in the commercial, along with a call to action. Repeating it at least three more times. State your product or service promise early. Be sure to repeat the phone number at least 4 times in a one-minute commercial. Follow the recommendations of public speakers: 1) Tell ’em what you’re gonna tell ’em. 2) Tell ’em. 3) Tell ’em what you just told ’em.
  9. Capitalize on local events. Tie in with fads, fashion, news events, weather, or holidays.
  10. Place the legal disclaimers at the start or in the center of the ad. According to psychological research on memory, if you recite a list of items to someone, the individual will most likely remember the final item on the list the best. This means that the final few seconds of a radio advertisement are the most impactful. Make sure you do not waste them by cramming your legal material into this space. The phone number or the website should be the very last words spoken – not a legal copy, not a joke, nor a sound effect. Remember: put the phone number and website address last.

Producing Your Direct Response Radio Spots

Reading a written radio script is not an appropriate method of evaluating radio copy. The spoken word differs from the printed word in several ways. In an online or newspaper advertisement, customers may always go back and read again if they feel they have missed something. When it comes to radio, if your customers miss a portion of the message, they will not be able to hear it again, obviously.

It is recommended that your copywriter create a demo that is representative of the final advertisement. Consider the context in which your radio ads are broadcast. In the same way that you would request to view your print advertisement as it would appear in a magazine or newspaper, you should request to hear your radio commercial within a few minutes of the actual broadcast.

If you require assistance, ask for it. It is possible to create the commercials on your own, but if you are not an expert in radio advertising, you should get assistance from a direct response specialist with relevant expertise. A large number of freelance copywriters are specialized in specific forms of media.

Look for someone who has a solid history in direct response radio. In the event that you want to have radio station staff create and produce your commercial, it may be a good idea to seek a second opinion on your demo before scheduling airtime.

The most straightforward method of delivery is, of course, live. Just send the script to the radio station and their presenters will read it out loud throughout their programs. The audience will likely assume that their favorite announcer or show host is promoting your product.

When your radio copy is ready, and if it is not intended to be read live on the air by the announcer or program host, you will need to locate talent to record it. This entails collecting audition samplers of available announcers and music groups for consideration. An audition sampler is a collection of advertisements that an announcer or music group has worked on before.

Occasionally, announcers may give a sample recording of themselves reading your ad. If you want to do this, there may be a little cost involved, but it will give you a decent sense of how the final advertisement would sound, with the announcer reading it without any special effects.

When you have decided on your talent, you are ready to begin the recording process. You have the option of renting a professional recording studio or using the production booth at your local radio station. An audio engineer can mix the parts together after they have been recorded. The commercial can be recorded all at once, in succession, or in fragments and mixed together afterwards.

Make sure you have more than one commercial ready for airing. Radio is a high-frequency medium. Your sales pitch must be varied in order to be effective. You will also need to keep your pool of spots fresh so that you do not tire your listeners with the same old stuff and have your conversion rate drop immediately after the first few days.

Choosing the Right Radio Station for Your Direct Response Campaigns

This is, without a doubt, the most challenging aspect of radio advertisement. You cannot begin to choose stations until you have a clear understanding of who your buyers are. Once you have determined their demographics, you will need to determine what sort of radio station they listen to and at what hours they do so.

There are all kinds of stations out there, each broadcasting to a fragmented audience. These include:

  • Adult contemporary (AOR)
  • Talk
  • News
  • Rock
  • Country-western
  • Jazz
  • Classical
  • Top 40
  • Easy listening
  • Progressive rock
  • Ethnic
  • Variety
  • Educational
  • Religious

When you buy radio time for your performance marketing needs, keep the following points in mind:

  1. Make sure that the station will allow you enough commercial time to motivate the audience.
  2. Make sure that the station audience is demographically right for your product.
  3. Avoid buying time on stations that provide background music, whenever possible.
  4. Select stations that offer you a great deal of extra audience you pick up in the non-urban areas which are often real mail order buyers.
  5. Make a deal for the media cost that will allow you to adjust the rates so that you can continue to have exposure with orders being produced within the advertising allowable.

At the end of the day, pick the radio station or stations that will reach your target audience. To learn more about each station’s characteristics, contact them and ask to get their media kits. Maintain a focus on demographics – age, gender, income, education, occupation, and place of residence – in order to better target your customers.

The more precisely you can define your customer’s characteristics, the greater your chances of successfully selling to him or her.

A rate card is the first item you will need to analyze to gauge a radio station’s potential performance. It is packaged with the media kit you requested from the station. It is difficult to read the rate card because it is crammed with numbers and divided into day portions.

The figure you see for each given day portion represents the cost of a single spot when it is played at that particular time of day.

If you want your ad aired at a certain hour, like 3:15 p.m., you will have to pay a premium. ROS is the typical radio media purchase (run of schedule). The term “ROS” refers to the fact that the station will promise that your commercial will be shown during specified hours in a certain day portion, but without specifying a precise time.

Aside from that, different prices are charged for different length ads. Every rate is calculated on the basis of a 60-second ad. Typically, a 30-second commercial will cost 75% of the price of a 60-second spot. It costs 50 percent more to run a 15-second commercial than a 60-second spot, while a 10-second spot costs around 45 percent more than a 60-second spot.

There are a variety of options for purchasing radio time. Spots can be purchased individually, in a bundle, or in volume. The greater the number of airings you commit to, the less expensive each minute becomes.

If you are only planning to be in radio for a limited period of time, stick to package deals until your budget enables you to buy in volume. Volume often refers to more than 1,000 airings throughout the course of a calendar year. If you purchase in bulk and subsequently decide to cancel your contract, the premium rates for the spots that were actually run will be prorated back to the original purchase price.

If you are serious about selling items on the radio, one commercial every hour will not suffice. Two or three will not be enough. In order to make an impact during a short-term campaign, you will need to broadcast at least six commercials each hour. Twelve spots an hour is excessive. When it comes to truly promoting a special or an unique item, eight spots is usually about right.

You cannot guess about the purchase of airtime. You must know when your customer is listening by doing basic demographic research. You will be able to tell whether they commute to work, if they are working mothers, if they are elderly, and so on.

You will be aware of the times of day when they listen to the radio and the stations that they like. If your customer drives to and from work, then drive times are the best buy. Drivers are a relatively attentive audience. Research proves that drivers respond to radio messages better than home listeners.

If your customer listens to radio at home or in the office, midday spots are good buys. Many radio stations have audience participation promotions during working hours, so there is active listening throughout the day. Other customers do not like TV and listen to special radio programming at night.

Spot radio is broken down into different daytime parts or day parts:

The premium times are 6 to 9 A.M. (usually most expensive);

  • 9 A.M. to 3 A.M. (midday, which is the second most expensive);
  • 3 to 6 A.M. (also most expensive);
  • 6 A.M. to midnight (less expensive);
  • and midnight to 6 a.m. (least expensive).

Of the two drive times (morning or evening commutes), morning is better. For the most part, radio listenership is greatest between 6 A.M. and 6 P.M. After 6 P.M., listening drops off substantially, probably due to the competition from television, which has news at 6 P.M. and begins prime time programming at 8 P.M.

Some say, but test for yourself, that best radio days are Mondays through Thursdays, unless something special is happening on Friday or the weekend. Airtime on the weekends is usually charged differently from weekdays. Tuesdays are usually the best days, followed by Wednesday and Thursday, then Monday. Fridays are last although these are just rules of thumb. Find out when your consumer is listening, then buy that day part.

Pre-Testing Your Radio Spots

Due to generally poor audience measurement in radio industry but low cost of placing single spots on the air, you may want to pre-test your commercial first. It would involve rewriting your radio ad so that your offer is a completely free one. This means editing out your usual price, placed in the ad, so that it is $0 and leaving the rest of the message as it is.

While your results may vary, my rule of thumb is that a free offer for a usual direct response product will beat 10 to 1 the offer with a price stated in the ad. One or two of such ad airings should give you a clear reading if the ad or the radio station are generating any results. If you cannot give away your product for free, you will not be able to sell it.

Direct Response Radio Ad Examples

Example 1. Joint pain relief direct response radio ad.
ANNOUNCER: If you’re living with joint discomfort in your back, knees, hips or even your hands, you want fast relief. You want to end your discomfort and feel good again. And now you can.

Our powerful joint comforting formula as seen on TV called [Product Name], can help you get your life back, fast. Best of all, we are offering a complimentary 2-week sample through our nationwide radio giveaway so your joints can feel great again in just days.

[Product Name] will comfort, repair and protect your joints. and will improve your mobility too. Over one million people have experienced the power of [Product Name]and now you can try a complimentary 2-week sample by calling 1-800-XXX-XXXX.

[Product Name]’s natural key ingredients have been clinically proven in over 35 years of research and are prescribed by doctors in over 40 countries for joint problems.

But you can only get your complimentary 2 week sample by calling 1-800-XXX-XXXX right now. Experience fast and significant joint discomfort relief today. Call 1-800-XXX-XXXX. Again 1-800-XXX-XXXX.
Example 2. Male libido enhancement direct response radio ad.
Hey. My name is David. I’m 49 years old, and I was frustrated with my decreasing libido. Not just that, but I was having difficulty engaging in any sort of spur of the moment activity.

I’m kind of overweight, I don’t eat healthy, and I drink from time to time. All these factors were making my love life nonexistent. I was depressed because what woman would want this?

Then I tried a product called [Product Name], because it was supposed to work quickly. I figured, why not? It’s not a drug. I don’t need a prescription. There’s nothing to lose. I used it. Ten, twenty seconds tops, and I felt a sensation that I never felt before, and it lasted and lasted.

The feeling alone was worth it, but there was much more. I just can’t say that type of stuff on the radio. They don’t ask questions when you call—it’s very private—not even your name. The whole process is solid.

Now I don’t have to go on a diet or stop drinking. I just get out the [Product Name]. Call 1-800-XXX-XXXX immediately… These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

See more direct response radio ads in my swipe file.


  1. Concentrate on generating phone calls. Do not be satisfied with just “awareness”.
  2. No matter what the radio salesperson says, do not rely on repeating your message. Each time your ad broadcasts, you should get a measurable result. Your ad is not functioning if you are not receiving any responses. And repeating the advertisement is not going to help.
  3. Begin a meaningful relationship with potential customers by offering free information, a free consultation, a special price, or some tangible reason to CALL NOW.
  4. When you play to the intimate, one-on-one qualities of radio and the loyalty people have to their favorite radio stations, then your creative will go the extra mile for you.
  5. It does not take expensive, highly produced commercials to get results. Just make sure your approach is informational and personal, with copy crafted for the spoken word and repetition of the most important points.
  6. Without visuals, radio can often paint a much more dramatic and convincing picture than other media.
  7. If you try to cram too much information into too brief a time, the delivery will become extremely fast and hard to comprehend. Normal, conversationally paced commercials with pauses will be understood and comprehended better than a spot that becomes a race with time.
  8. Every seasoned performance marketer will find the same opportunities to test, refine, and measure the effectiveness of radio commercials that exist in the other performance marketing media.

If you like this blog post and want more expert advice on performance marketing, direct marketing, direct response advertising, please share it. Thank you!

Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on reddit
Share on facebook
Share on email
Share on whatsapp

Leave a Reply to the Article

The expert's thoughts on direct response - growth hacking - performance-based marketing activities - DIRECT MARKETING

About Me, Rafal Lipnicki.

the direct / performance marketing consultant with a strange sounding name


Not your usual "guru" but a real-world performance marketing & innovation consultant based in Europe and an experienced senior executive at leading multinational companies.

What and Where.

I am a consultant for hire, working remotely and on-site all over the world (but Europe is always preferred). See my consulting services page for details.


Contrarian advice most of the time. Document-based audits, workshops, one-off projects, mentoring programs, and more.