Audio Marketing Workflow: Six Steps to Sound

Orson Welles demonstrated the power of audio marketing dramatically when he celebrated Halloween 1938 by faking a CBS news broadcast reporting a Martian invasion of the United States East Coast. Lent realism by an authentic-sounding announcer (played by Shadow voice actor Frank Readick) and backed by a full sound effects crew, Welles’ broadcast threw parts of the country into a panic. Some listeners only caught part of the broadcast and did not realize it was an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ science fiction story The War of the Worlds. Others misinterpreted it as news of a Nazi invasion. CBS, newspapers, and police stations were flooded with phone calls demanding information. Radio hosts who tried to calm callers were accused of a cover-up. Historians estimate that 1.7 of CBS’ 6 million listeners believed they were listening to an authentic newscast. CBS managed to avoid lawsuits by including disclaimers during commercial breaks, but Welles ended up repaying one man who had spent money meant for shoes trying to escape the Martians.

Welles War of the Worlds

Orson Welles demonstrates the power of audio in his 1938 “War of the Worlds” broadcast

The War of the Worlds broadcast illustrates the impact audio can have. Talk radio and iPods are other examples. Fortunately you don’t need to have your own radio station and sound effects crew to influence an audience today, and you don’t need to fake a Martian invasion. Anyone with a few pieces of basic equipment and software can do their own audio marketing by following six simple steps.

1. Script

The first step is to start with a script. Welles’ script drew from a classic novel as adapted by future Academy Award-winning screenwriter Howard Koch (who would later work on Casablanca). You probably don’t have a bestselling novelist and a Hollywood writer at your disposal, but you can still produce an effective script by following a few principles.

First, determine how your audio will serve your business purposes. Are you trying to establish your expertise with your audience? Are you trying to persuade them that your product or service can solve their problems? Are you trying to get your listeners to visit your website, call you, or visit your physical location?

Next, consider your audience. What kind of audio topics will interest them? What are their needs? What kind of solutions are they looking for?

Select a format that fits your purpose and your audience. Audio formats can be monologues where only the narrator is talking, similar to a speaker in front of a room or a teacher in front of a classroom. This format can be useful if you’re trying to inform your audience. Audios can also be interviews where a host is talking to a guest or a group, which is a format useful for establishing expertise. Audios can also be dramas where two or more people are acting out a story, sometimes with a narrator telling the story, a format that works well for commercials trying to depict the benefits of a product or service. Pick a format that best suits your purpose.

After selecting a format, you can outline your script. Your outline will vary with your format, but most scripts follow a few standard templates. A monologue usually has an introduction stating the theme, a body covering key points, and a conclusion summing up the main points and calling the audience to some action. An interview also usually includes an introduction and conclusion, with the body devoted to asking and answering a series of questions. A dramatic story has a beginning, a middle, and end. In the context of an ad, the story typically follows the structure of a sales pitch, with the beginning of the story acting out consumer problems, the middle dramatizing the advertiser’s solution, and the end inviting the listener to take some buying-related action.

You’ll find more details about how to write scripts on other parts of this site. You can also hire a copywriter or scriptwriter to write your script for you.

2. Rehearse

Before recording your script, it’s a good idea to rehearse. If it’s a monologue or drama, practice delivery. If it’s an interview, rehearse your questions and walk through them with your host or guest ahead of time. Many hosts will let guests supply suggested question-and-answer lists, which takes a lot of stress out of interviewing for both parties.

You should also make sure all your audio equipment is working and picking up sound correctly. Depending on how you’ll be recording, you may want to use a headset, a digital voice recorder that plugs into a telephone, a lapel mike (lavalier microphone), or another recording device. Do a short test for sound quality before doing your live recording.

3. Record

The next step is to record. You may need to do several takes to get it right. If you don’t get it perfect, don’t worry: that’s what the next step is for.

4. Edit

In the editing phase you can clean up your original soundtrack. Sound editing software lets you cut out mistakes and long pauses, filter out background noise, add special effects and background music, and improve your recording in other ways. There are many sound editing software programs available. I usually use a free one called Audacity. Music and video editing programs also often come with sound editing features.

5. Release

Once your recording is ready, you can release it to the public. Depending on how you plan to distribute it, you might elect to release it in digital format or in a physical format such as a CD.

6. Distribute

The final step is to distribute your release to your intended audience. Websites, blogs, Internet talk radio sites, podcasts, YouTube, and CDs are all examples of ways to distribute your recording.

That’s the audio marketing workflow in a nutshell. Read other parts of this site for more tips on how to write and produce your audio scripts.

Comments are closed.