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Profitable direct response radio campaigns are a product of excellent strategy, skillful media buying, and insightful radio commercial development. This article will address the radio commercial development piece, presenting the top ten concepts that interact to produce successful radio advertisements.

We make a few assumptions as we define the scope of this article.

First, we assume the creative process is infused with sound strategy - a careful consideration of customers, the company's offering, and competitors. The creative process starts with a brainstorming of possible alternatives, and then is narrowed down into a short list of approaches that you hypothesize will produce the best results based on some rationale.

Second, we assume you'll employ the ongoing testing that direct response advertising requires for success. We're not going to get onto the topics related to testing and how you continuously dial in on what works best for your campaign.

Lastly, we define success in terms of profitability, not awards won or popularity or entertainment value. In our view, only one question matters: Does the ad elicit response in the form of cost per lead (CPL) and cost per order (CPO) that results in the client acquiring the most profitable new customers?

With that in mind, here are the top ten keys to creating great radio ads:

10. Production value and voiceover talent.

Contrary to popular belief, these are not the most important element in great ads. Yet they are what clients often use to determine whether they "like" an ad. From the data we've collected testing radio ads we've found that there is very often an inverse relationship between production value and ad performance. Yes, that's counterintuitive. Production value shouldn't "hurt" response, right? There are a number of possibilities for why this is true. Maybe good production value distracts ad developers from the right amount of focus on great copywriting. Or, perhaps good production value creates an ad that is so "slick" that it doesn't stand out. As Seth Godin puts it "perfect is boring".

Nonetheless, production and voice are still important. Production must enhance believability, catch attention, and ensure the message can be ingested by the audience with minimal effort. And the voice talent's read must be evaluated for it's non-verbal communication, not just what the words mean as they're strung together.

9. Distinctiveness of the offering.

The greater the "me too" factor, the lower the potential for the campaign. If your product is another of the hundreds of weight loss products or diets, then you're likely going to have a difficult time coming up with something new to say to people. Distinctiveness applies not just to the product benefits, but also to the creative approach, the offer, and any other element of the campaign.

8. Effective use of the interplay between emotion and logic.

There are points in the ad where emotional appeals are appropriate, and there are other points in the ad where logical appeals are potent. Few people make a purchase decision based solely on one or the other. Quite often we're "reeled in" with emotion, and just before we buy we look for a logical reason to rationalize our emotional decision. Successful radio ads recognize this dynamic and flow accordingly.

7. Articulation.

There are a number of different ways to express your message. Any one can get the message across. But only one is the optimum formula that presents the combination to the lock on the door of your customers' minds. Changing just one word or a few words in an ad can have an amazingly large impact on results. We've seen this over and over again - some key insight that produces a small copy change that dramatically boosts results. Or the opposite. Articulation matters. One of the biggest mistakes we've seen is using wishy-washy, non-specific language. Saying something "Product A is designed to do X" is not as strong as saying "Product A does X".

6. Simplicity.

You have sixty seconds. Packing too much into the ad overwhelms the listener, triggering the natural cognitive processes that minimize sensory overload. Leave the kitchen sink in the kitchen. If the kitchen sink is what's so impressive about your product or service, then at least test a focused approach next to it so you can learn which performs better.