Three Techniques for Effective Radio Commercials

Written By

SMI Staff

Published On

Thursday, Jul 15
Top view of Hands adjusting audio mixer.

Note: This article was originally published March 13, 2014, and has been updated to reflect changes in the industry. (previous post for reference)

Radio has been called “the theater of the mind.” And like great theater, great radio ads elicit an emotional response in the audience. However, in the case of direct response radio advertising, the emotional response should propel listeners to act—whether by visiting a product or service’s website, calling a phone number, or sending a text to find out more. 

How do effective radio ads create an emotional response powerful enough to motivate listeners to purchase a product or service? Here are three radio commercial production tips that will help set the stage for a successful radio ad.

Cast for Tone and Authenticity

Casting is an extremely important aspect of any radio commercial production process. While radio production is less expensive than other mediums, if you fail to cast the right voice talent for your radio ads, the outcome will likely be a lot of wasted time and potentially a lot of wasted money. 

In order to cast the correct voice talent, you must have a strong understanding of the tone of the spot. The tone will vary based on the product and its target audience, so keep in mind the type of voice that will resonate most with the product’s demographic. A voice must also grab attention – look for voices that stand out in some way; a voice that can break through the clutter. Looking for a friendly, genuine tone? A high energy announcer? A cool, hip millennial? This is what can help make a spot stand out. Regardless of the type of voice you choose, it must have authenticity. Radio listeners need to believe in the message the voice talent is trying to convey. 

Before going into a radio commercial production session, it is extremely important to have the above considerations in line.

Direct Voice Talent

After you’ve chosen your voice talent, the next step in the radio commercial production timeline is directing the voice talent to create an effective ad. When producing a radio ad, to keep direction consistent, it is best that feedback and direction are channeled through one person. 

Before you go into a directing session, it’s also very helpful if you’re armed with a large, descriptive vocabulary. It is crucial that you are able to create the exact sound that you envision for the spot. In order to produce the sound you envision, you must be able to articulate that vision and sound to the voiceover talent. Then, you must coach the talent on how to make each line correspond to your vision.

Maintaining a good relationship with your voice talents is tantamount to success. You never know when an ad is going to take off and become your new evergreen. Making sure you have a good relationship with voice talent ensures you’ll have consistency, quality, and quick delivery as you scale your campaign.

Sound Quality Matters

First and foremost, effective radio commercials must have crisp, clear sound. Background music can heighten an ad’s emotional effect, but be careful not to drown out a voice talent or distract the audience with music that is too loud or too complex. Your main goal is to ensure your message is received, so take time to consider whether you need music in the spot at all. 

Make sure the audio quality is excellent on any spot your produce. If you’re editing in-house, save your working files as wav files, so you don’t lose quality with each saved draft. Each time an Mp3 file is saved and re-saved, the overall audio quality decreases, so if you’re handling the radio commercial production yourself, be sure to bear this in mind. If you’re working with a studio, ask them which specs they’ll be recording at, and in which format you’ll receive the files. It would be a huge mistake to put a lot of time, money, and effort into excellent copy and direction, only to end up with a radio ad that doesn’t perform well because the audio sounds muffled or unclear.


Keep these tips in mind as you begin your radio commercial production journey. To find out how Strategic Media, Inc. can help with your radio commercial production, contact us today.

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