How to Write a Persuasive Podcast Ad

Writing persusaive spoken ads for podcast or radio is an art and a science. Get-It-Done Guy has the tips and tricks for awesome audio.

Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #306

We’re in the middle of an advertising war, and I’m going to tell you how to win.

We are besieged with 20,000 ads a day. The only way any one advertiser can get heard is to advertise that much harder. So they up us to 20,217 ads a day. It works for a while, and then soon enough, everyone advertises more. The playing field levels out, and the whole game starts over at 20,306 ads per day. This is war, and when I think of War, I think of…zombies! And strategy. I think of strategy, too.

Many ads are written as if they’re a piece of writing. They aren’t. There’s a huge difference between written ads and spoken ads. Just listen to the radio. Spoken ads are a different beast.;

Remember Your Purpose

Radio and podcast ads aren’t intended to sell product. The listener is rarely able to buy immediately. They’re listening over lunch, or on a treadmill, or in their car. The goal of a spoken ad is to engage the listener to start the sales process by calling a phone number or visiting a web site.

One key is repetition. People remember what’s repeated.

If you’re advertising Grandma Cuddles’ Daycare Center, don’t try to get listeners to sign over custody of little Sally or Raja or Renee sight unseen. No, no, no. A better goal is to get listeners to visit GrandmaCuddles.com or come by the center for a tour of the kiddie playroom and persuasion area. As anyone who’s ever bought a timeshare on beachfront property in a war-torn country you never want to visit again, interactive persuasion is where it’s at.

Be Brief and Repeat!

You won’t persuade people if you bore them to death. Dead listeners make great zombies, but lousy customers. Long ads get boring. People tune out and don’t hear your message (unless you’re a trained hypnotist—which I am—in which case once they’ve tuned out, you can hypnotize them into becoming members of your World Domination movement).

The goal of a spoken ad isn't selling; it's convincing the listener to call a phone number or visit a web site.

A 30-second message is plenty. If you can’t grab them in 30 seconds, spending an entire minute relentlessly assaulting their eardrums won’t help.

What will help is repeating a shorter message several times during an episode. People remember a short message repeated several times more than a long message repeated once. People remember what’s repeated.

Some radio ads are almost nothing but repetition: “Grandma Cuddles Daycare! Keep your little darlings in a well-controlled environment! Visit GrandmaCuddles.com now! That’s GrandmaCuddles.com for shockingly good day care! GrandmaCuddles.com is your electrifying answer! Visit GrandamaCuddles.com now!”

That’s repetition in action. People know what day care is, so Grandma Cuddles doesn’t spend time explaining. She just pounds her message home with a sledge hammer. That way, when you get to your web browser, you actually remember GrandmaCuddles.com. People remember what’s repeated. Did you get that?

Move Listeners Through Emotion

Your job in a spoken ad isn’t sales. It’s getting the listener to your phone rep or web site. So think emotion: you want people to feel motivated. You want them curious enough about your product so they take the next step of contacting you.

Each sentence moves them through the chain of emotion. First they have to decide it’s relevant enough to pay attention. Then they want to know more about what you’re offering. Only then do they care about choosing between alternatives.

If your ad starts with, “Try the world’s most popular app ever! Frobbozz!” you’ll lose a lot of people. People don’t know what a Frobbozz is, and they don’t care that it’s popular. “Popular” comes later in the sales process, once they’ve decided they need it and are choosing whom to buy from. Let’s try again.

“Want to get back at the kids who bullied you? Frobbozz lets you spy on your enemies with a convenient drone-mounted camera. Catch them doing bad and post the pics to social media. Or just blackmail them directly! Grandma Cuddles uses Frobbozz to keep track of all her kiddies. Best of all, photos can be beamed directly to missing persons departments.”

People Remember Stories

By the way, people remember what’s repeated.

Have you ever noticed how many radio ads feature chipper-sounding actors reading what’s obviously a script? Like so:

Mohindra: Gee, Susan, I don’t know what to do with little Pankaj. He’s driving me crazy!

Susan: Well, Mohindra, have you tried Grandma Cuddles Day Care? Little Chris went to Grandma Cuddles and now there’s no back talk. Grandma Cuddles sure knows how to whip kids into shape! I can’t even imagine how she does it! Just visit GrandmaCuddles.com to schedule your visit.

These ads work because they tell a little story. In two sentences, they have characters, motivation, plot, adventure, and even a touch of mystery. People hear the story and relate to it. Once they relate, they listen carefully to find out how they can get the electrifying experience of Grandma Cuddles for themselves.

Stories don’t list features! They illustrate a specific situation that the listener can relate to (in this case, a bad child) and tell the story of how the product solves the problem. Once the listener identifies, they’ll listen all the way through the end and want to know more.

Then you’ll tell them, again and again. Because people remember what’s repeated.

Make Next Steps Crystal Clear

All ads must then lead to a call to action. Call this number or visit this web site. Make it memorable, and make it easy to remember. Make it rhyme. Make it less than 5 words, because people can’t remember anything more. Easy to remember, easy to remember, easy to remember. “Just visit GrandmaCuddlesDayCareCenterInCentralOhio.com for details!” Too many syllables. “Visit GrandmaCuddles.com now!” Short, sweet, easy to remember. You can say it several times, because people remember what’s repeated.

One more thing: these are spoken ads! If your URL is ambiguous or hard to spell phonetically, you’ll lose customers. Is right.com r-i-g-h-t, r-i-t-e, w-r-i-t-e, or w-r-i-g-h-t? You know, but your listener doesn’t. Grandma Cuddles is unambiguous, though even she might want to spell Cuddles so people know there are two Ds.


Repeat your call to action at least twice, and make sure it’s the very last thing in the ad. People remember what’s…at the end of the ad. You thought I was going to say “repeated,” didn’t you? Because “people remember what’s repeated.” And I’ve said that several times.

Now it’s your turn. Go build awesome ads that get people not to buy, but to take the next step towards buying! Then buy ad space on the Quick and Dirty Tips podcast network. You’ll use brevity, repetition, emotion, stories, and calls to action and you’ll win your advertising war, because you’ll know that spoken ads are a different beast from written ads. Just ask Grandma Cuddles. Business is booming so much that she’s investing in another crate of surveillance drones.

I'm Stever Robbins. I help high achievers accelerate or change careers. If you want to know more, visit http://www.SteverRobbins.com.

Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!

About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.