Ads: Hard to Write – Easy to Fix


(By Rick Fink) If you’re a seasoned writer, you may not agree with this. However, if you are an untrained media rep or a new rep, writing a basic ad can be frightening and hard. Writing a good ad is even more difficult. And writing great ads takes a unique talent.

I think everyone would agree that there are way too many “bad ads” on local media. This isn’t just radio; it very much includes newspapers, magazines, digital, and especially local TV ads.

Many times, in small and medium markets, it’s the sales rep who is writing the ads for their clients. While I actually subscribe to this, most reps aren’t trained on how to write basic ads, much less on how to insert meaningful creativity into an ad. And creating effective campaigns is almost unheard of.

When I work with media reps and we are discussing the creative side of their job, I always emphasize that writing an ad is the hard part. Fixing an ad is easy and I teach them ways to do this.

In most small to medium-sized markets, the average rep has way too many clients on the air each month, with way too small of schedules (that subject is for another day) to devote the required time and effort to write good, effective ads.

One of the things that make radio stations sound bad is all the boring, redundant, cliché-filled ads with useless words, and oftentimes, way too many words. Here is a simple example…

“Ben’s Bargain Barn – Located at the corner of 10th and Main in Downtown River City.”

This sentence has a total of 15 words, 6 of which are useless and not needed. It should read, “Ben’s Bargain Barn, 10th and Main, Downtown River City”.

The words “located at the corner of” and “in” have no bearing on the message you are trying to get across. The only reason we write them into a script is that we assume we should use proper grammar while writing radio ads.

When it comes to writing ads for radio, using proper grammar can, and often times will make the ads too “wordy”. Taking the connecting words out and instead using a pregnant pause will have a more dramatic effect and will grab the listeners’ attention.

“It’s the biggest dress sale of the season. You will find hundreds of dresses in all sizes and colors at drastically reduced prices. The sale ends this Saturday, so hurry in today while the selection is at its best.”

It should read, ”The biggest dress sale of the season… find hundreds of dresses – all sizes and colors – drastically reduced prices! Sale ends Saturday – hurry in today while the selection is best”.

In this example, it’s 10 words less than the original, and that’s only two sentences. If you do this with three or four of the sentences in a typical 30-second ad, you could find an additional 10 to 20 words that could be used to say something more profound to grab someone’s attention.

Keep in mind that these are basic ads. We didn’t take a bad ad and make it great; we simply made it a little bit better.

It’s hard for untrained media reps to write an ad, but if you know the process, it’s easy to fix bad ads and make them respectable. Your clients will get better responses and your stations will not only sound better, but you’ll make more money!

NEVER Stop Learning – Get Better Every Day!

Rick Fink from ENS Media can be reached at 605-310-2062 or at [email protected]. Read Rick’s Radio Ink archives here.



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