Chris Smith

Among the most important alliances that marketers can make with consumers is for them to “connect, engage and follow,” according to the Radio Advertising Bureau. “It’s one of the biggest challenges that brands have today”—and it all starts with exposure. That’s where radio comes in, by successfully driving brand awareness and influencing purchase intent.

In a new post on the RAB’s “Radio Matters” blog, titled “Radio: The Best Place to Tell Stories,” the organization culls smarts about how radio can have even more influence from Chris Smith, creative group head with The Richards Group ad agency and a seven-time Radio Mercury Award winner.

“Don’t do ads. Tell stories,” he says. “Radio is the modern campfire.” A story includes character, plot and theme – and the same should hold true for a radio ad he tells the RAB. And “make sure the brand is relatable to consumers… something that the consumer can identify with. Also, “think about what the consumer currently believes and what do you want them to believe. Use that to creatively get your brand’s message across.”

Another strategy for effective radio spots: “Stick to one important point about the brand. Even if you have a lot of features, try to encapsulate that into one thing to say,” Smith tells marketers. “Consumers won’t hear all the information you are sharing, and the product’s benefits will be lost.” In hand, he advises to challenge writers and agencies to “say that one thing better. Once you determine the best way to encapsulate the one thing, find a way to say it/communicate better or more creatively.”

Also, use the strengths of radio, such as words, music, sound effects and even silence: “Create an expectation with your audience and deliver on that expectation every time, but with a surprise.”

“It’s an amazing time for radio; creatively speaking it’s an interesting time,” Smith said in the RAB post. “There’s more ways to deliver it thanks to technology.” Citing what he considers as an often overlooked attribute, “Radio is the one medium that, more and more, we can consume while doing something else. Audio is finding a whole new life. A good radio spot is still king.”