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Radio advertising rockettes

By Tracy Wood

SUMMARY: With the Christmas season quickly approaching, seeker’s minds are ripe for attending church and re-igniting that fire for Christ. Yet, how are you going to get them to come to your church and attend your worship service? Word of mouth only goes so far. Another ideal medium is advertising on the radio. Even if you’ve never written an advertisement for the radio, you are in luck: This article will focus on how to write effective radio advertising copy for seekers to find your church.

Well, isn’t it obvious? Just say, “Build it and they will come.”
Advertising copy is all about selling your product. In this case, your product is your church service. In 30 seconds, you have the challenge of grabbing your listener’s attention, providing enough information to pique their interest and ingrain your message in their mind – a mind that is bombarded by hundreds of messages per day. In short, writing advertising copy is tricky business and there is no silver bullet. Build it and they will come doesn’t always apply to advertising copy.

Let’s start at the beginning, a very good place to start
First, you need to set your objective. The objective is to get seekers to attend your church service this Christmas season. It’s not about putting the fear of God into them or telling them about your ministries. Staying on target is critical and staying within the time allotment will prove to be an even bigger obstacle. Thirty seconds is a very short time frame to set your objective and equip the listener with enough information to follow through.Then why don’t we get a 60-second ad? Simple – time is money and a 60-second ad can get expensive.

Don’t beat around the bush
Be specific about what you want. Use a strong, specific call to action.

  • “We look forward to seeing you on Sunday, Dec. 21st at 11 a.m. at First United Methodist Church.”

This sets the objective and gives a call to action with specific information on what you want the listener to do. You want them to attend First United Methodist Church on Sunday, Dec. 21 at 11 a.m. There is no ambiguity.

  • “Join us Sunday for a time of honor and worship at First United Methodist Church.”

This doesn’t give the listener enough information. What time is service? What Sunday do you want me to attend? Whom are we honoring?

Thou does needeth to speak like thee
Remember who your target audience is and try to keep your message on their speaking level. Don’t go over your audience’s head and start talking pontification, proliferation or polity (and not just for alliteration reasons). Keep it simple, but don’t speak like a 5-year-old – we want the seeker to be intrigued, but not confused.

  • “Join us for the celebration of Christ’s birth for a sunrise service on Christmas morning at 6 a.m. at First United Methodist Church.”

This doesn’t include big words or any unclear phrases, but it also isn’t on a child’s speaking level.

  • “Join us for the jubilant memorialization of Immanuel’s parturition on Yuletide morning at 6 a.m. at First United Methodist Church.

Ok, I admit I had to use the thesaurus on this one. However, you get the idea – don’t use words that would be printed in the New England Journal of Medicine or Scholarly Weekly.

Address the person, not the envelope
Use “you, your” as much as possible and use “I, we, us” as little as possible. Remember, you’re advertising for them to come to your church. You’re not promoting your church.

  • “You are invited to celebrate the birth of Christ at First United Methodist Church on Sunday, Dec. 21st at 11 a.m. Join us and you will be blessed.”

In this example, we were able to use “you” twice and “us” once. There will be very few ways to get around not using “we, us” in the advertisement, so don’t fret. But be sure to use more “you” than “us.”

  • “We invite you to worship with us on Sunday, Dec. 21st at 11 a.m. Join our congregation as we celebrate the birth of Christ.”

Here, we focused too much on “we” and less on “you.” Remember, it’s all about you, not me!

Speak geek to them
Thirty seconds isn’t much time to get all your information that the person may need. For example, including your street address could consume 10 seconds or more. Throw in your telephone number and there’s another four seconds gone. So, what’s the solution? Out your inner geek and include your church’s Web site address, providing you have one. There’s no need to include the http://, but do include the www. If your church doesn’t have a Web site, I first encourage you to check out E-Zekiel, and then you’ll need to include your phone number so seekers can have a contact method.

Tell me again. Tell me again. Tell me again.
Lastly, don’t run your ad once a day at the same time. Vary your advertisement times and days to get a more diverse audience segment. Take into account rush hour traffic times when people are most likely to listen to the radio. Also, don’t start running your ad on the radio a month in advance; instead, start advertising about a week prior if you’re on a strict budget – or two weeks prior if you have some wiggle room in the budget. Here is an ideal radio advertisement that is specific, audience driven, informative and leads the seeker somewhere for more information:

  • “You are invited to celebrate the birth of Christ at First United Methodist Church on Sunday, Dec. 21st at 11 a.m. Visit our Web site at for more information and or if you have any questions. Join us and you will be blessed.”

Or if you don’t have a Web site …

  • “You are invited to celebrate the birth of Christ at First United Methodist Church on Sunday, Dec. 21st at 11 a.m. If you have any questions or for more information, call 555-9862. Join us and you will be blessed.”

---Tracy Wood is the Web Coordinator for the Connectional Giving Team at United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn. She is part-time Web geek and part-time comedian.