4 Tips for Writing Strong Audio Creative

In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell acquired the patent for the telephone. Fast forward about 20 years to the mid 1890’s and the idea of transmitting sound wirelessly was born. Believe it or not, AT&T owned the first radio station that played the first paid advertisement 100 years ago, back in 1922 (in case you’re curious, it was for the Hawthorne Court Apartments in Jackson Heights and aired on WEAF in New York).

The first paid audio ad was 10 minutes long and cost $50. It’s probably the 10 minutes long part that caught your attention. These days, it is estimated by marketing experts that we are exposed to between 4,000-10,000 advertising messages a day. (yikes!) We’re getting lots of quick impressions everywhere we go – even if we don’t go anywhere!

Developing strong audio creative requires more than just checking off some boxes if you want to leave a lasting impression on your target audience. To write effective audio creative, we must be concise, capture attention and have a compelling call to action. But there is room for nuance, which when practiced can help your audio creative stand out from the bombardment of audio ads that are everywhere.

Why care about audio creative?

  • Affordable boost to overall your marketing strategy
  • Fast to produce creative
  • Flexible to start and stop quickly
  • People are listening
woman recording audio content in-home studio

An estimated 95.6% of Americans 13 or older listen to some form of audio in their daily lives, which amounts to 270 million people listening daily.


While how we listen to audio has dramatically changed over the past 100 years, the fact that we are indeed listening hasn’t changed. Here’s four tips to make your audio creative be more effective.

1) Be relatable

Put yourselves in the shoes of the listener and practice empathy – be personal. Talk directly to the listener, using terms like “you” and “yours”. Show them how the product or service can address a pain point. Be helpful!

Make the listener feel like you care (and you should). When appropriate, consider including a testimonial in your audio creative that helps demonstrate how your product or service solved this same problem for another person. This makes it relatable.

2) Use theater of the mind

With audio creative, you don’t have visuals – and that means that visuals aren’t limiting the imagination of the listener. This gives you the opportunity to paint the picture in the mind of the listener. Use sound effects and music to transport the listener into the space you are conjuring and they will fill in the details, which can be powerfully engaging on an emotional level.

On top of sound effects and music, if you choose to include actors in your audio creative, be intentional with how they are used. And avoid using fake conversations to get your message across – this negates the theater of the mind opportunity.
Here is an example of what NOT to do:

  • Actor 1: Did you know that Ford is offering two thousand dollars cash back on new models, only while supplies last?
    Actor 2: Oh really?! Wow, I didn’t know that.
    Actor 1: Yes! It’s true, this month only, Ford is paying us to buy a new car.
    Actor 2: That’s incredible, let’s go!
    Sfx: tires squeal as two people drive off to the dealership

This is obviously super cheesy, and we’ve all heard ads like it before. Let’s avoid this – it’s demeaning to the intelligence of the listener. If there is an offer, be straightforward about it.

Consider doing something way over the top with banter, which tells the audience that you know you’re being cheesy, but it’s on purpose – and it’s memorable.

An example of how this could work would be to make modifications to the above “bad” copy, but deliver it with a Bill and Ted type of style:

  • Actor 1: Hey Bill
    Actor 2: Ya Ted
    Actor 1: Ford is paying two thousand bucks if you buy a new truck from them
    Actor 2: Noooo waaaaay
    Actor 1: Yes way Ted
    Actor 2: The princesses like totally deserve to ride in a new truck.
    Actor 1: Ya, and with two thousand bucks, we could buy some new amps
    Actor 2: And all our gear will totally fit so easy in the back.
    Both Actors: EXCELLENT!!!
    Sfx (electric guitar riff)
    VO (Disclaimer spoken quickly at the end): Bill and Ted are not real people. Keanu Reeves did not endorse this offer. Offer valid only at Ford dealerships in the greater Seattle area through March 31st, 2022. Other limitations may apply, see dealer for details.

Humor can be a really fun way to get your point across and be memorable. It can also turn into a pop culture thing that catches on and gives real legs to your campaign.

3) Be repetitive

An audio ad doesn’t have shelf life, meaning it doesn’t lay around like a magazine or newspaper ad. It plays and then, poof! It’s gone. So it’s important to make your key takeaways sticky in order to maximize the few seconds you have with your audience.

What’s worth repeating?

  • Your Website: If you want people to visit your website, say your URL repeatedly (and no need to say www. Or “double-you-double-you-double-you-dot) That takes up too much airspace. Just hit the website URL multiple times and consider mentioning it early in the ad, and then again twice at the end. If your website has a weird differentiator, spell it out (literally) and do it the same way every time. It will stick in the listener’s head like a jingle.
  • Your Brand Name: If you want people to remember the name of your brand, and your brand is new or not yet well known to your target audience, say it throughout the ad. For a :30, this might be said five times!
  • Your Calls-to-Action: No need to give out physical street addresses or other minutiae in a radio ad. Use other assets like a website landing page to provide those details, or ask them to text to a number that will easily get them to the landing page you’ve created that has all the details they need.

Marketing Strategy Note: In driving traffic to a landing page, you can remarket to them with digital ads until they convert. This additional strategy is very effective to layer on top of simple audio creative. If you need help exploring these types of layered strategies, get in touch!

4) Consider how you use music and sound effects

Ever heard an audio ad that was hard to understand because the music was a bit too loud? It’s unfortunate but it happens. Using compression as an audio engineering tool will help even out the loud and quiet parts of a piece of music, but the voiceover should always be easy to hear and understand in any playback media (from the sweet car stereo to the crappy desk speakers).

It’s important to use music when it makes sense, but don’t over do it – and don’t assume that you necessarily need music at all!

For example, consider a dry voiceover with no music bed as your creative delivery where the placement is on a music platform – it will stand out. Conversely, if your ad is playing on a podcast, using music to intro and outro your ad will help the listener with the transition and help get their attention.

  • If your ad is playing on a music station, you could start your ad with a record scratch to grab the listeners attention.
  • Use music to punch certain points or pull back attention in a longer spot, or use music as a gimmick.
  • Work with professional voice over artists to ensure quality and keep your production efforts on schedule.

Using a distinct musical sound in specific ways in your audio ads, or consistently using a music bed that captures your brand can help you gain brand awareness and recognition more quickly.

Additionally, the use of a jingle can aid in retention for the listener. A jingle doesn’t necessarily have to be a sung song, it can be spoken word, rhythmic or punchy. It just needs to accurately reflect your brand promise and effectively achieve the goal of retention (not annoyance).
[See our post on working with voiceover talent]

Before you tackle that next copywriting task, remember to step back and consider your audience. Put yourself in their space, mentally, emotionally (if possible) and maybe even physically. Ask yourself, what would it take to reach me if I were in their place?

Then, flex some creative muscle, make sure you capture their attention and give them a reason to take that next step (and make it easy for them!)

Need help with copywriting for audio creative?
We’ll be here when you need us.

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How To Become An Enabler (of Content) For Your Internal Experts

Columbia Ship with Enabler Definition

Is getting content from your internal contributors proving more difficult than guiding a ship up the Columbia?

This year, more than last year, more than the year before that, you’ll look at your monthly content schedule, see your name next to “Content Due”, then glance at the teetering pile of untended projects covering your desktop and you’ll wish you had a full time copywriter on staff. Believe me, a full time copywriter is a desire that burns bright within all of us small- to mid-sized company content managers, but that ship may be a long ways from the harbor yet. So, in a pre-lunch, low-blood-sugar, fifth-cup-of-coffee induced fit of optimism you remind yourself that there is no substitute for the experience and expertise that already exists within your small, well-worn team of internal contributors. And, by golly, if the Seahawks can make it to the Superbowl then Karl in accounting can come up with 800 words on best practices for Quickbooks!

Sometimes the freshest of beginnings come only after a pass of the wrecking ball.

So how might we improve the content creation process for the folks that (sometimes reluctantly) churn out the content and make even better content while we’re at it? Sometimes the freshest of beginnings come only after a pass of the wrecking ball. If you’re finding success in your current methods, then please leave a message below on what you find works best for creating an atmosphere at your company that values engaging content. However, for those of you who feel like you’re juicing a turnip when you ask for content from your team, read on. As the make-believe grandma in my head who’s always quick with a proverb says, “You can make a turnip milkshake, but ain’t no one gonna drink it unless you put a little sugar in it.” So with that let’s put some sugar in this and process it.

The goal here is to encourage better content from your contributors and foster a company culture that values creating premium content for all your digital channels. Content that leads to a brand braintrust, thought leadership within your industry and, yes, even glory in the rankings…if you’re into that sort of thing.

At Edge, we’re experimenting with a new approach to internal content development. We know that not every team member is a natural born writer, but everyone does have a unique area of expertise that they can draw upon to make regular and meaningful contributions. So we are seeking to align the interests of our internal experts with topics both relevant to our industry and of value to our target audience.

This approach may not be a right fit for every company, but these 5 practices are really targeted at revitalizing the editorial process for small to mid-sized companies for whom outsourcing may not be a viable or attractive option and so must lean heavily on the contributions of their internal experts.

We are seeking the content “Sweet Spot”.


To start off with, we’re encouraging all of our contributors to write about their areas of expertise and what interests them, whereas before each contributor was handed a topic and expected to produce an article for it regardless of their personal interest or expertise. Instead of asking Chris (our SEO & Reporting Intern) to write about about community events, or Matt (our Graphic Designer) to write about a success story, we ask Chris to write what he’s learning about analytics and Matt to write about his passion for better design. And as each of them write about what interests them, they try to overlap their passion with how it might interest our audience and also be relevant to our industry. See chart below…

The Content Sweet Spot Chart

The Content Sweet Spot Chart
Hitting the Content Sweet Spot: The best content will flow out of your contributor’s expertise and interests while also being of relevance to your industry and of value to your audience.

So we replaced our four traditional blog categories, or taxonomies, with a more open collection of industry-relevant topics and encouraged our contributors to align their interests and expertise with the wider list. It mostly means that when Matt (our Graphic Designer) is on the content schedule for the month he can feel free to write about whatever he knows & loves as it pertains to our industry and is of use to our audience. He may choose to write about design in the context of community or industry news or any of the old categories relating to design or a success Edge had with a design project. The trick to hitting the Content Sweet Spot is to remove creative impediments and foster each contributor’s core competencies.

But won’t telling your contributors that they can write about whatever they want make it more difficult for them to focus? Perhaps a bit at first, but again the goal is not to send them spinning off into a taxonomic vortex each month, but to help guide them to discovering their own stream of relevant and helpful content.


We suggest giving the search engines what they want – fresh content served hot out of the brain oven. Mmm…
Once new content is submitted, proofed and approved decide what the best channel(s) for publishing is and get it out there into the world, rather than waiting and trying for a once-a-month, simultaneous publish date that coincides with your email marketing. You should still have a deadline each month or week (depending on your own content schedule), after which you can take the best articles from the month and distribute/feature them via email marketing to your various subscriber lists.

TIP: Shift your editorial calendar up a month. Have your contributing team research and develop their content the month prior to its scheduled publishing date. This way, when the new month starts, you can spread out the fresh content love throughout the month via your website and social media channels and not just in one lump sum of content around (and often after) the deadline.

HELPFUL TOOL: Get your hands on the NEW 2014 CONTENT SCHEDULE TEMPLATE. If your content schedule is either non-existent or could use a reboot this year, feel free to copy and adapt a new schedule from the Google Doc we’ve provided here. Using a live document format such as Google Drive can make it much easier to edit, share and collaborate on your content schedule with your contributors.


In order to encourage a higher level of content quality many content managers within small companies may need to first remove the stigma of writing for the company blog as some lame, add-on chore that gets left until the last minute. In other words, we must create a culture within our companies that values content. To do this we must acknowledge that good content takes time and assure our contributors that it is alright for them to take the time they need to produce something of value. For content managers and editors of your team’s content this also means patiently working with your content team to help them develop their voice and skills as contributors. We must avoid the temptation to rush undercooked content to publication or to make all the edits ourselves and thus deprive the contributor of the opportunity to grow their skills. The challenge is to embrace and enact revisions without exasperating your contributors.

The message of quality and caring about the content your company publishes, of course, carries more weight when it’s affirmed from the top down, but one can hardly expect to nurture any change at your company if they, as the content manager, aren’t leading by example. Write more this year! Write even when you’re not on the content schedule, and don’t wait until the deadline is looming (guilty…I’m guilty). It make take some time and I’m talking months, but your team will come alongside you as you lead.

Then be sure to monitor how the content you and your team produce is performing in analytics. More than likely, as your team creates better content, more often, you’ll see bumps or even spikes around publish and social promotion dates. That’s just the short term reward. Content’s real payoff (thought leadership, brand trust, improved rankings) is reserved for those in the game for the long haul – those who consistently produce “sweet spot” content.

TIP: Not every piece of content is featured post material, but it still may be a juicy, little tidbit worth publishing. For shorter pieces, consider distributing them via your social media channels with links back to supporting material on your website. Publishing and promoting ONE solid, deep dive article each month that hits the content “sweet spot” is better than 4-6 hastily written, fluffy or overtly salesy pieces. Plus, some quick write-ups covering community events may be better suited for your social media channels anyway.


To help jump-start creativity and combat contributor disconnect, we’ve started hosting a monthly contributor’s chat at the beginning of each editorial cycle, or just before the pressure of the deadline hits. A regular contributor chat serves several useful purposes for your team. One, it solidifies the idea that this is indeed a team of contributors and that no one is producing their work in a vacuum. Two, it validates your teams’ ideas and subtly lets them know that you value the content you’ve asked them to create. Three, a quick chat can help you avoid overlapping content, encourage collaboration and help any contributors who may be stuck.

As you facilitate these contributor chats be sensitive to the following:

  • Possible tie-ins to current events, seasons, holidays, company/industry milestones
  • Topics that make your contributors light up and they speak to naturally, because we’re looking to create streams of content that flow from each of our contributors, not just one-off articles
  • The “Sweet Spot” Chart: Start with your contributor’s unique expertise and passion, then look for topics that also share industry relevance and value for your audience. Finding each contributor’s sweet spot, or content stream, may take a while, but don’t give up as it is worth the search.


Sundaes as incentives

You may not find it necessary to offer incentives to your content team. Producing helpful, shareable content may be its own reward to some, but then again, Karl over there in accounting may never lift a pen before seeing the green flash of a Starbucks Gift Card. So if you find that your team needs a little extra nudge, offering incentives might place further value on the role of contributor within your company and even make for a little friendly competition out of it. Perhaps offer some nifty prize to the contributor whose Article/Content/Tweet/Facebook Post brought the most visitors in that month or produced the highest GCR. Perhaps a sundae bar for the whole department?

How have you become a content enabler at your company? What do you find to be the greatest challenges to getting your team to produce quality content? Are you seeing a greater value placed on content marketing within your industry? Share your thoughts below.

Content Marketing Is Just Good Marketing

In the spring of this year, Edge published a series of articles on effective Content Strategy and Content Marketing. Why spend so much time yammering away about content? Because content marketing, whether you think it’s just an agency buzz term or not, is just good marketing when it comes down to it.

If your website is a steamed Chicago-style, poppy seed-studded bun, then your content is the double char dog between (it must be summer). Take away the content (all that lies between the bun) and there is little left of interest. Shockingly, this is true of both hot dogs and websites.

Your customers may not love double char dogs, but they do love useful content and they are ready to participate with and purchase from brands that produce it.

In fact, 78% of consumers perceive organizations producing content are interested in building positive relationships, and brands that create content regularly via a blog generate 67% more sales leads each month. The folks at Wishpond recently documented these findings and more in an infographic titled, “The State of Content Marketing 2013.”

As you can see from the infographic below, it is a strong state in 2013. What state is your company’s content marketing in?

State of Content Marketing 2013 Infographic by Wishpond

Turn Your Company’s Scattered Expertise Into An Expert Internal Marketing Team

Expert Internal Marketing Team Chalkboard Drawing
“Everyone’s on board with the new content strategy except my contributors. Is that a problem?”

So you just told Karl over in Production that he gets the privilege of contributing to the company website every month in addition to all the work he normally does. How’d that go? Did his face go pale, or red with creative rage?

Content Gap Analysis: Filling The Holes In Your Content Schedule

So you have a very beautiful, but very blank content schedule sitting in front of you. Minding the gaps in your content schedule can help your company generate fresher, more linkable content, while building your brand’s authority. Not to mention keep Google from giving you the thumbs down.

At its core, performing a content gap analysis means taking an inventory of the content your website already has, reassessing your website’s message and voice, and then listing the content that you need to fill in the gaps.

Here are some helpful tips on how to perform a content gap analysis, so you can begin generating ideas and get your content strategy really flowing.

Effective Content Marketing Strategies: Establishing A Content Schedule

Content Juggling Muscle - 1600px

The most engaging websites are NOT static. Before long a static website becomes little more than a screensaver of your business card. Websites that really engage us are fluid; always changing and growing, always considering their audience – with new content coming in all the time.

A recent study from the Content Marketing Institute[1] suggests that in 2013, more than half of all B2C companies plan on increasing their content marketing budgets, and 10% of those making increases say they will be significantly increasing their investment in content marketing this year. To help manage this new emphasis on content marketing more efficiently and effectively, it’s essential to create a content schedule (also known as an editorial calendar). Establishing a content schedule will focus your efforts and ensure that when you engage your clients on the web that it’s worth both your time and theirs.