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Radio Commercial Concept, Copywriting and Editing

Radio Copywriting Tips
A Radio Advertising Advantage member asked for my feedback on this script for a radio spot.

I’ve changed all the identifying details and am reprinting my critique with his permission.

The Original Radio Commercial

Lawn Wizards
“THAT Lawn”  :30

You know THAT lawn?  It’s always green… no weeds… while yours is…well…  a mixed bag with more bald spots than your Uncle Frank. It’s time for Lawn Wizards! Steve Sparx can make your lawn the envy. New seed, turf, fertilizer, weed control and sprinkler systems. Now taking new year sign-ups. It’s time for pre-spring weed control, so call now. 386-2179. 386-2179. Lawn Wizards in Smallville. Things just got greener.

My Critique/Response

When you have just 30 seconds, you need to start faster — specifically, by identifying the problem you’re promising to solve.

That means no time for talking about the lawn that’s always green or making the joke about Uncle Frank.

What’s the one thing they’re promoting — “new year sign ups” or “pre-spring weed control”? Including both just confuses the listener.

I’m guessing many of them will react, as I did, “What the heck is a ‘new year sign up?”

And there’s “new seed,” “turf,” “fertilizer” and “sprinkler.” You need to paint just a single picture.

The company name is Lawn Wizards; that’s the name people have got to learn. Mentioning Steve Sparx — even if he’s the only employee in the entire company — confuses things.

You need to give people a specific reason to call.

“Pre-spring weed control” sounds promising. What exactly does that entail, and what are the results for the customer?

For example….

Dan’s Rewrite

If you want your lawn to look great, you can’t afford to wait until Spring. The secret to a beautiful lawn is Pre-Spring Weed Control. Step One: You call Lawn Wizards in Smallville. Step Two: Lawn Wizards comes to your home BEFORE weeds can take root. They conduct a complete — and free — examination of your lawn’s true condition — what’s happening beneath the surface right now. And then they give you a written analysis of their findings. And, if you want, they’ll do whatever needs to be done NOW to make your lawn look great come Springtime. To schedule your complimentary consultation, call Lawn Wizards today at 386-2179. 386-2179. Lawn Wizards.

That clocks in at 114 words; 42 seconds.

Now let’s see what we can delete in an effort to make it a 30-second spot.

As a point of reference, a 30 seconds of conversational English averages 90 words.

I measure the “proper length” of an ad by the clock, not by the number of words. Still, 90 words usually is a pretty accurate barometer of the spot’s running time.

In this case, however, that “conversational” tone requires a slower-than-usual delivery. 114 words in 42 seconds means an average of 2.71 words per second.

To maintain the pacing this copy needs, I’ll need to pare it down to just 81 words or so.

Now our task is to cut that 42-second spot down to 30 seconds without losing impact or sounding rushed.

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Words that look like this are words I deleted from the previous version. Words that look like this are words I added to the previous version.
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Dan’s Rewrite (Edit #1)

If you want your lawn to look great, you can’t afford to wait until Spring. The secret to a beautiful lawn is Pre-Spring Weed Control. Step One First: You call Lawn Wizards in Smallville. Step Two Second: Lawn Wizards comes to your home BEFORE weeds can take root. They conduct a complete — and free — examination of your lawn’s true condition — what’s happening beneath the surface right now. And t Then they give you a written analysis of their findings. And, if you want, they’ll do whatever needs to be done work their magic NOW to make your lawn look great come Springtime. To schedule your complimentary consultation, call Lawn Wizards today at 386-2179. 386-2179. Lawn Wizards.

The secret to a beautiful lawn is Pre-Spring Weed Control. First, you call Lawn Wizards in Smallville. Second, Lawn Wizards comes to your home BEFORE weeds can take root. They conduct a complete — and free — examination of your lawn’s true condition — what’s happening beneath the surface right now. Then they give you a written analysis of their findings. And, if you want, they’ll work their magic NOW to make your lawn look great come Springtime. To schedule your complimentary consultation, call Lawn Wizards today at 386-2179. 386-2179. Lawn Wizards.

94 words :34

“Wait a minute, Dan. If you want that 34-second copy to be delivered in 30 seconds, just talk faster or speed it up in the editing!”

Yes, I could hit the 30-second mark by talking faster.

Yes, I could speed up the digital recording by 11.76%, and it would time to 30 seconds.

And, of course, remove all the breaths.

But it wouldn’t be conversational. It would be rushed.

It wouldn’t engage the listener; it would be just another fast-talking radio commercial.

So I need to get it down to 30 seconds.

Dan’s Rewrite (Edit #2)

The secret to a beautiful lawn is Pre-Spring Weed Control. First, you call Lawn Wizards in Smallville. Second, Lawn Wizards comes to your home BEFORE weeds can take root. They conduct a complete — and free — examination of your lawn’s true condition — what’s happening beneath the surface right now. Then They give you a written analysis of their findings. And, if you want, they’ll work their magic NOW to make your lawn look great come Springtime. To schedule your complimentary consultation, call Lawn Wizards today at 386-2179. 386-2179. Lawn Wizards.

The secret to a beautiful lawn is Pre-Spring Weed Control. First, you call Lawn Wizards. Second, Lawn Wizards comes to your home BEFORE weeds can take root. They conduct a complete — and free — examination of your lawn’s true condition — what’s happening beneath the surface right now. They give you a written analysis of their findings. And, if you want, they’ll work their magic NOW to make your lawn look great come Springtime. To schedule your complimentary consultation, call Lawn Wizards today at 386-2179. 386-2179. Lawn Wizards.

90 words :33

Dan’s Rewrite (Edit #3)

The secret to a beautiful lawn is Pre-Spring Weed Control. First, you call Lawn Wizards in Smallville. Second, Lawn Wizards comes to your home BEFORE weeds can take root. They conduct a complete — and free — examination of your lawn’s true condition — what’s happening beneath the surface right now. They give you You get a written analysis of their findings. And, if you want, they’ll work their magic NOW to make your lawn look great come Springtime. To schedule your complimentary consultation, call Lawn Wizards today at 386-2179. 386-2179. Lawn Wizards.

The secret to a beautiful lawn is Pre-Spring Weed Control. First, you call Lawn Wizards in Smallville. They come to your home BEFORE weeds can take root. You get a complete — and free — examination of your lawn’s true condition — what’s happening beneath the surface right now. You get a detailed written analysis. And, if you want, they’ll work their magic NOW to make your lawn look great come Springtime. To schedule your complimentary consultation, call Lawn Wizards today at 386-2179. 386-2179. Lawn Wizards.
88 words :32

Dan’s Rewrite (Edit #4)

The secret to a beautiful lawn is Pre-Spring Weed Control. First, you call Lawn Wizards in Smallville. They come comes to your home BEFORE weeds can take root. You get a complete — and free — examination of your lawn’s true condition — what’s happening beneath the surface right now. You get a detailed written analysis. And, if you want, they’ll work their magic NOW to make your lawn look great come Springtime. To schedule your complimentary consultation, call Lawn Wizards today at 386-2179. 386-2179. Lawn Wizards.

The secret to a beautiful lawn is Pre-Spring Weed Control. Lawn Wizards comes to your home BEFORE weeds can take root. You get a complete — and free — examination of your lawn’s true condition — what’s happening beneath the surface right now. You get a detailed written analysis. And, if you want, they’ll work their magic NOW to make your lawn look great come Springtime. To schedule your complimentary consultation, call Lawn Wizards today at 386-2179. 386-2179. Lawn Wizards.

82 words :29.5

At last, a 30-second radio spot with a leaner, more effective message.

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