I’ve long had a particular affection for radio advertising. It goes back to my younger days when I sat in broadcast booths and shared time and temperature before spinning large round pieces of vinyl. Handled correctly, radio spots are almost a mini-version of the programs that captivated audiences in the days before TV. Often, they’re more entertaining than the programming they support.

But a lot of people who create radio advertising don’t seem to grasp the realities of the medium and its listeners. A key example of that is what they expect the listener to take away from the spot. Many expect listeners to remember complicated phone numbers or website addresses. Locally, a law firm and a construction company that run sponsorships on public radio do that even though their names are difficult to understand and even harder to spell. If your CPA firm’s name is Finklestein, Chapeau and Huang, do you think most listeners are going to be able to spell that on the first try?

I realize that people listen to radio in many places – at home, at work, on the road, while jogging – but I always assume that the people who will be listening to my spots are in their cars. They can’t stop what they’re doing to give me their full attention. They can’t (or at least shouldn’t) write anything down. They’re not going to be able to remember three or four complicated instructions or pieces of information.

Instead, keep it simple. Limit what you expect them to remember. If you’re Finklestein, Chapeau and Huang, pay ten bucks for a web address of and redirect visitors to your regular site. Pay extra for a memorable phone number like 555-FINK. You’ll be amazed at what that can do for your results.