Get us on the radio! Tips on booking a live read

A live read on your local radio station is a quick and often affordable way of letting the town know about any sales specials you are currently running.

Get us on the radio! Tips on booking a live read


A live read on your local or community radio station is a quick and often affordable way of letting the town know about any sales specials you are currently running.

Dealerfloor spoke to Nikki Lewin, head of the strategic media agency, Alphabet Soup, about the tricks and pitfalls of booking a live read. Alphabet Soup is a strategic planning and buying agency that works with clients in the automotive industry.

Be clear and simple

This, says Nikki, is the biggest mistake that dealers make. We become so familiar with terms such as kW, Nm, ESP, ABS or even terms such as Trade Assistance, that we don’t write them out, explain them or at least put them into context.

“It is not uncommon for a DJ to read kW as ‘kay-double-u” instead of kilowatt. And it is equally possible for listeners to have no idea that R50 000 trade assistance means that they can get that much more for their trade-ins. So, keep it simple and write out the acronyms.”

Always weigh the cost of a live read up against the pre-recorded option. A pre-recorded ad can be a simple live read done in a studio with a voice over or it can be a full radio commercial with all the creative elements of a great ad. You have choices. Live read ads read by the DJ of that station are mainly used when you need to get a message or offer out to your market for a short time, with a specific date and only for a limited offer.

Keep it short

There are many word calculators on the web and most will tell you to keep it at around 90 words for a 30 second live read.

A good writer or language editor will also be able to write it in a way that it forces the DJ to read clearly and slowly, by taking a pause at certain places and not putting too many complex words next to each other. Either pay for a good copywriter who is well versed in scripts or pre-record the live read with an outside voice artist. This way, you can use the ad on multiple stations, so you are not bound to just one station. Live reads often come with a loading of up to 50%, which ends up being cost inefficient when planning across different stations.

Add extra time for other languages and colloquial terms

Advertising in a language other than English can reach a much wider audience, but it comes with its own risks.

Nikki explains that most radio stations will need at least a week (five working days) to translate from English into a vernacular. It may take even longer if the read is technical or contains strange terms and remember different DJs may have their own interpretation of the content. Make sure the final script is tested before doing it on radio.

Always make sure to send both the English version and the other language script to the DJ or to a friend to make sure that nothing was lost in translation.

Keep it personal

“You would be surprised at how many live reads we track where clients forget to add their details or use their company name, address or contact details. You get so excited about getting the script to the radio station that you sometimes use ‘us’ or simply the brand name, when in fact you should explain it in detail and always end off with the offer and who to contact.”

Nikki also says that phone numbers, email addresses or web addresses should be repeated at least twice in a 30-second read or be specific about where you want to drive a response. If it’s a lead from on your website or call centre, remember to brief and train your staff accordingly as quick conversion is critical. Three days and you have lost the lead!

Use an agency

Using a buying agency will in most instances save you money. Nikki explains that planning and buying agencies can stagger the live reads to give you maximum impact at a lower cost and they can use their existing relationships to squeeze out extra value for your money. The cost of doing a live read often has a larger loading to it as there are no production costs, however the tools of planning still apply.

“People think you can only buy a live read on the drive shows, but that is often many times more expensive than other pre-recorded radio slots. You could realistically get twice the number of reads and reach more people in the process by booking in less expensive slots, but more regularly. There are planning tools and algorithms that calculate this, and it is usually a more cost-effective solution.” It’s critical to realise that your market needs to hear your ad regularly and often, and by building frequency you will tend to get more of a response.

More Skills Development stories

Twitter can be useful in selling cars

Twitter can be useful in selling cars

Don’t be afraid of feeling intimidated by Twitter when considering new ways to market and brand your dealership, while at the same time generating leads, prospects and sales. That is the advice of Khulekani Dumisa, Managing Director at Khulekani on Wheels and KOW Marketing.

  • 6 October 2020
Tips to ensure survival during the economic downturn

Tips to ensure survival during the economic downturn

In light of the current economic downturn, and pressure on the owners and DPs of independent dealerships, Dealerfloor recently spoke to Prof Tommy du Plessis from North-West University’s Business School; an expert on entrepreneurship and small business management.

  • 1 October 2020