How to write a radio ad that hooks your listeners

As you learn how to write a radio ad, focus on creating your call action, hook, and core message. But first, decide how long your radio spot will be.
How to write a radio ad: person writing in a notebook and using a laptop

While radio advertising can be a highly effective method of reaching your target audience, a successful radio campaign depends on more than buying a radio spot during the right time and with the right station.

It all begins with writing. When you know how to write a radio ad, you can capture the listener’s attention in the limited time available to you. You’ll appeal to potential customers and make them far more likely to remember you.

Just like a TV commercial or social media post, a winning radio ad script will go a long way in creating a favorable impression of your brand. By following these guidelines, you can have confidence that your radio commercial will deliver the results you need.

How long should your ad be?

Timer GIF

One of the first things you should do is decide how long your script needs to be. A 30-second radio ad is the most common length, though some brands opt for a 60-second ad to further emphasize their message. Online, you’ll come across even shorter ad formats, with some audio ads as short as 10 or 15 seconds.

There are a few considerations for deciding how long your radio ad should be. First is your advertising budget. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that shorter ads are going to be cheaper than longer ones. However, research from the Radio Advertising Bureau indicates that 60-second ads typically have better recall.

Another thing to consider is your ability to get your message across in a 15-, 30- or 60-second slot. The average person speaks roughly 2-3 words per second. So, a 30-second spot script could be roughly 75 words. For a 60 second script, you get around 150 words.

Of course, your script will need to be shorter if you plan on including sound effects or jingles, which limit how much time is available for the voiceover.

How to write a radio ad in 3 steps

Every radio ad should have these three elements: A hook, your core message, and a call to action. Here’s how to approach each one:

1. Find your call to action

How to write a radio ad: person using a megaphone GIF

Regardless of the length, every successful radio ad needs a strong call to action (CTA). As Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People advises, “Start with the end in mind.” Once you know how your ad ends, it’ll be clearer how to start.

In this case, “the end” is your call to action. What do you want listeners to do after they hear your radio ad? Ideally, they will take a clear action — that can be engaging with your business or buying your products or services.

Your call to action could be calling your phone number to request a quote, visiting your website to learn more about your services or sign up for a software demo, or even visiting your physical location. 

Write a simple and direct call to action such as “call PHONE NUMBER today to schedule an appointment.” Then, you can decide how you’ll build the ad to get to this point.

2. Write your hook

Captain Hook GIF

Once you’ve determined your call to action, you can write the beginning of the ad. The hook catches the reader’s attention and makes them want to keep listening.

One way to write a good hook is to connect with your target audience about the challenges they are facing. Later, you’ll show them how your business could solve that problem. This is often done in the form of a question, such as “Don’t you hate it when your plumber doesn’t show up on time?” or “Are you ready to buy a new car?”

A strong hook tells relevant listeners that this message is meant for them.

3. Describe your core message

How to write a radio ad: Earth's core GIF

After your hook, it’s time to move on to the core message, where you will pitch your product or service or highlight your company’s current offer. As you showcase the value proposition, make a compelling appeal that convinces listeners to act when they hear your call to action.

Here are some copywriting tips for developing a strong core message:

  • Highlight your product or service’s differentiating features. This could include better customer service, more affordable pricing, or something else entirely.
  • Create a sense of urgency by emphasizing how a special offer is only available for a limited time.
  • Use empathy to showcase how your brand understands the challenges your customers face.
  • Explain exactly how your brand solves a common problem listeners experience.
  • Share testimonials or review scores from your current customers.

Instead of including all the above, focus your writing around what makes the most sense for your particular ad. The main goal is to ensure that listeners understand what your company is and what it has to offer. By explaining the “what” and offering compelling reasons as to why they should choose you, you can have confidence that listeners will respond well to the ad.

Practice makes perfect

Dribble GIF

So you’ve come up with a killer call to action, written a hook, and pitched your product, service, or special offer. Put it all together and you’ve created an amazing radio ad that’s all done and ready to go, right?


You wouldn’t expect an author to give their publisher the first draft of a novel and expect it to be published as-is. To make their story the best it can be, they do extensive editing and revising.

You need to do the same for your radio ad. 

Start by looking at the word count. Remember, you get roughly 75 words for a 30-second ad and 150 for a 60-second spot — so every word needs to count. Cut extra details that distract from your main message. Focus on a single call to action. Use contractions like “can’t” instead of “cannot.”

It could also be helpful to work with voice talent to identify areas where you need to make changes. Some phrases look great on paper but sound awkward when read out loud. Reading the ad out loud will help you time out the length of the ad and identify any areas where you might want to change the wording.

It’s totally fine if it takes three or four (or more) drafts to perfect your ad! The work will pay off and make you confident in the quality of your content.

Write a winning radio ad

How to write a radio ad: Spongebob writing GIF

Great radio ads require practice and patience. You’re probably not going to create an award-winning commercial script on your first attempt. But as you follow these steps to fine-tune your radio ad copy, you can grab your audience’s attention and get them to engage with your brand.

Of course, even the best radio ad won’t do you much good if you can’t afford to buy a spot from your local radio station. This is where Decibel comes in. Our platform aims to democratize radio advertising by helping small businesses achieve more affordable ad placements on digital audio platforms, including streaming radio and podcasts.

Get started today to see how easy it is to turn your script into reality. When you know how to write a radio ad and launch it for your audience, amazing things can happen for your business.

Share on