Radio Ads and How to Make Them Work

The most memorable commercials are ones that help people relate to where they live, chuckle a little, or laugh out loud. Don’t believe me? What spots come to mind when you think about radio? Not many, because most are ignored: they’re boring. It’s important to get people curious about your dealership if you want to entice listeners to drop in and look around.


Before I get down to the nuts and bolts I have to explain that you need to commit to a rotation and one spot a day on one radio station will not do it. It will take a few days to establish (have listeners become familiar with the spot), because people don’t listen for commercials, they listen for music or their favorite talk show host or the news. Now is the time to be strategic. Start with a good script—one that doesn’t sound the same as everything else!


Funny Works—Period


Ask anyone what they like about a friend and a “good sense of humor” is always on that list. This applies to you, the dealer. Have a look around the area you live and think about what people find funny around them; every city/town has something. “You’ll look great driving by the beach this summer (insert a background wolf whistle and a short chirp of tires and the sound of a fender bender) and did I mention our body shop?” or “If your car gets from zero to 60 in three out of four tries, maybe it’s time for something new!” Simple, friendly, and memorable—associate humor with your dealership and you win.


A local place where parking is just a pain is another angle. If you are highlighting small cars in a sale then make fun of how easy it is to find a parking space at the County Fair or something similar. “This car takes up less space than Mama’s Blue Ribbon Sow and has enough room to bring home all the stuff I bought at the pie auction!” You get the idea here too. (Funny effects help but keep them simple, not corny or cartoonish).


It’s important to remember that you get bang for your buck by spending time on the script and air time; I cannot stress this enough. A good script will keep people interested. Use a company to record and produce your spots with out of market voices to catch the listener’s attention. Yes you will spend extra, but it’s worth every penny. Commercials do cost money to produce, but the return with any radio campaign will be noticed and your spots won’t just blend in. The extra cost is small potatoes when you are buying on several stations and you can use the same spot across the dial. Continuity works, but more on that another day.


Ken Venus is a radio veteran, an award-winning producer of televisionand radioprograms,and produces commercials in several markets. He can be reached at





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