Play It Again: Insurance Marketing on the Radio

Fran Majidi December 21, 2022
radio marketing strategies for insurance agents

Radio advertising is one of the oldest methods of marketing a company effectively, especially for insurance leads marketing. With a captive audience that is driving, relaxing or even working, the best radio spots can be a huge boost for your agency in terms of sales. With that said, there are pros and cons to buying radio ad spots, the main one being the cost.

An alternative to spending a huge bundle on creating and buying radio spots is to buy insurance leads from a reputable source like SmartFinancial. which does all the legwork for you.

Spotify and Pandora: An Alternative to Radio Stations

Another option to radio advertising are radio's competitors, mainly Spotify and Pandora, which are stealing the thunder from many radio stations. So why not just advertise on the alternative stations then?

For one thing, both Pandora and Spotify have options for ad-free listening with paid membership so they are in another arena altogether. And, radio is most certainly not dead! It's estimated that 95% of Americans still tune in, at least for a few minutes every week. That's a lot of people!

Are Radio Ads Expensive?

Well, they're not cheap but radio ads don't have to be outrageously expensive for insurance professionals, especially not if the insurance firms advertise on local stations and college radio stations.

Why Radio Is Still King?

Music is not always what radio listeners are looking to hear when they turn on the radio. In fact, what's on heavy rotation is stale already to music junkies. Many people tuning in to radio are listening to the news. Also, the success of radio has always been reliant on personalities. With Howard Stern, we learned that DJs and radio show hosts even have the potential to become rock stars.

Listening to the radio show hosts crack jokes and make banter with guests is how millions of Americans like to start their day. The music is more of an intermission than the main act, but that's precisely why radio advertising is effective: Getting a radio personality to mention your insurance agency is a great way to generate leads, even if you have to pay dearly for it.

How to Advertise on Radio: What Is a Radio Spot and What Is a Live Read?

So you're now wondering, How does radio advertising work? A radio spot is a 30- or 60-second ad offered by radio stations. These kinds of radio ads are almost always produced by the advertiser, not the radio station. It's rare, but sometimes, the radio station will record it for you. If you're interested in advertising you will most likely need to turn in a finished product. Most companies hire an outside agency to write and record the script with music and sound effects.

The price for a radio spot can be as low as $2 and can also cost over $500 if you're advertising with a big station and during a very popular show. A radio show host can also do a "live read," which is also a paid advertisement. During the live read, the shows host reads scripts or notes written either by the business or by an agency hired by the business owner. You can also ask that they simply endorse your agency through ad-lib. Produced spots tend to be the more common type of ads sold by radio stations.

Insurance Marketing Tip #1: How to Write a Radio Ad

As with anything, we suggest checking out how it's done by others who have been successful at it. You can easily call up Geico ads on YouTube. Pay attention to how a radio commercial differs from the television ads. For instance, you're not necessarily getting the gekko in the radio scripts. You are, however, getting the same zany content you'd expect from Geico. Should you ape these commercials? No: the lesson here is to stay true to your brand, the brand message and the brand image you've already established as an insurance agent. A scratch agency should establish a brand before they consider spending enormous amounts of money on radio ads.

Even the big insurance agencies advertise on air. One agency has a 30 second radio ad script that sounds like it's a segment from the radio show itself. The fictional host gets a call from the insurance agency's client, a yoga teacher who gives a lively testimonial about how the agents have been saving her money. The fictional host cracks some jokes about yoga and there you have it: It's entertaining and has an effective takeaway: the testimonial (even though it's not real). This agency has a history of branding itself for finding the lowest rates so they are staying faithful to their brand messaging with this radio ad.

Think about what your brand is messaging its clients. Stay consistent and do the same in your radio ads.

The Elements of a Radio Ad

There are 7 basic components to an ad and we'll go through each step with you.

Find the Focus of Your Ad

Ask yourself, What am I trying to sell? If it's Auto and Home Insurance and you're hoping to bundle both, that is your focus. That means, take out the mention of insuring business fleets or RV insurance. Just focus on bundling Auto and Home. It's never a good idea to focus on more than 1 or 2 products at a time, especially when there aren't any visual cues to bring the listener back to the focus. Effective radio ads for insurance professionals have messaging that is streamlined for clarity.


For some agents that means letting the marketing staff do the brainstorming. For independent agents, it means bouncing ideas off a spouse or friend. Come up with as many ideas that are relevant to your focus, getting as creative and out-there as you want. Be original but true to your own independent agency. There's still room to reign it all back in before it goes live.

Write a Script

For most people, writing is anxiety-inducing. Don't get nervous; you've got this! Remember that you already have some great ideas to work with from your brainstorming session.

Creating the Radio Ad:

  • Boil down all your ideas and the focus of your ad to one strong statement that will grab attention. If you start out weak, the listener may change the station.

  • Say something logical and emotional (in the same sentence) about what you're trying to sell. Start with the logical statement first. For instance, "Bundling auto and home is a great way to save money." Now add emotions: "Bundling auto and home is a great way to save money and precious time." This is emotional because you can't really quantify time or what's precious to another person.

  • Continue playing on emotions. Maybe say something like, "Your savings could be spent on that next amazing vacation!" Here, utilizes the senses. Play sounds of someone swishing down ski slopes and then play Hawaiian music. The script overlay could say, "Ski the slopes in Colorado or surf the waves in Hawaii!" You get the idea.

  • In the closer, make a great offer or mention a great deal. Otherwise, your call to action will fall flat. Pretend you are face-to-face with the client and he asks, "How does this benefit me?" Simply answer the question. "You can save up to 15% by calling us today."

Hire a Voiceover Artist

Make sure this person has an impressive portfolio and a voice that inspires trust, comfort and confidence. If it's life insurance you're selling, have that be a comforting voice. If it's auto insurance, you can think outside the box a little bit more.

Record the Radio Ad

The production value of an ad is most important. That means, no cutting corners. You'll need to book time in a real recording studio to ensure that there will be zero background noise and no muffled voices. The more prepared you are, the less time you'll need to pay for. Have your ideas ready to go (background music, noises, etcetera).

Edit the Radio Commercial

Make sure the ad is only as long as the agreed upon amount of time. That means a 30 second ad should be 30 seconds long, no more, no less.

Buy Ad Spots

Your rate will depend on the number of spots you buy and times of day when the spots run. Figure out how you can get the most listeners for the budget you have set aside for the campaign.

Important Tips Before You Begin

Advertising on radio can be powerful but it can also be a dud if you do it on the cheap.

  • Advertising on radio can be powerful but it can also be a dud if you do it on the cheap. Production value matters. The audio must be crisp and clear. No, you can't record it on your iPhone.

  • Hire a professional voiceover talent. Don't have the admin assistant do it because she has a pleasant voice. Sometimes cutting too many corners will leave a project in tatters.

  • Stand out but at the same time fit the tone of the station.

Nothing deadens the emotions more than a cliche in a radio commercial.

  • Avoid cliches. Nothing deadens the emotions more than a cliche in a radio commercial.

  • Don't try to pack it all in 30 or 60 seconds. This is not about giving as much information as possible. It's about leaving an impact.

Always negotiate for a lower price.

  • Never accept the first proposed contract the radio station gives you. Always negotiate for a lower price. If that doesn't work, pack on as many free services as you can (see more on this below).

  • Negotiate a long-term contract to get a good rate. The longer the better because there is value in your ad playing regularly over a period of time. You will most likely be billed weekly or monthly and only after the radio commercials air.

The most expensive times to schedule your ads are "driving hours."

  • The most expensive times to schedule your ads are "driving hours" -- the morning rush and the commute home. Plan accordingly. If you're not buying prime air time, the radio ad will not be optimized but it may be your most affordable option.

  • Get involved with radio station promotions and stay alert on social media to share posts about the events via the station's Facebook and Twitter pages.

  • Cross promote with other advertisers. Just ask the radio station for a list of businesses that also advertise with them. See if you can somehow promote another business along with yours. Have them do the same. Again, the idea is to have someone else speak positively on your behalf, which is often more valuable than what you have to say about yourself.

  • In your negotiations, add the option to advertise on the radio station's website.

  • If you can't get a price break in advertising rates, which vary (especially according to the volume of listeners), get as many free billboards as you. Billboards are 10-to-15 second announcements that are like brief radio commercials.

Why Use Radio Advertising?

Even people who are pretty dedicated to their iTunes list tune in once in a while. Whether they are catching up on the news or listening to the latest hits, people have the radio on while they drive. You may be wondering," Is radio advertising still effective?" Certainly, Spotify and Pandora are changing the game, but for now, radio advertising is pretty advantageous if you can afford it. Effective radio advertising strategies amplify volume and reach and they are cheaper than television commercials.

Start Your Own Internet Radio Station

If you've always considered yourself a great DJ and people like your music lists and mixes, this may become the best hobby you've ever had. It can really be profitable too, if you play your cards right. If you've got any talent and people start listening, you'll be the sole advertiser, advertising for free. While this tactic is not for everyone, there's a way to do it, if you've got the will. Just follow the steps here in WikiHow.

Feeling Overwhelmed?

If you're an agent with a limited budget and little time to wait for an ROI, you can simply invest small amounts of money at a time in a company that will do the work for you. Many insurance companies have cost shares with successful insurance leads vendors like SmartFinancial, which has the resources and the manpower to create and budget all of the radio, print and digital advertising, which are built-in costs in each of their leads.

Whether you decide to do radio advertising yourself or if you decide to hire an agency or an insurance leads company to do it for you, we're here to help.