I Lost My Phone Number, Can I Have Yours?

Here's a pet hate of every radio copywriter in the history of radio copywriters: Phone numbers in ads.

I'll explain why in a sec.

Quite often phone numbers appear at the end of a radio commercial in the call to action.

"...Get your pipes cleaned! Call the best plumbers in town on 8765 4321."

This style of call to action in radio ads is fading out thanks to people like me and the internet.

Let's move on to why your phone number is hated by so many.

It's not effective

No one remembers phone numbers!

When I cover this very topic in the Copywriting Unit at Radio Training Institute, I start by telling students that they should avoid including phone numbers in commercials. I then tell them my phone number. I talk for a few seconds and ask if after 5 seconds any of them remember my number. None do.

Listeners can't write it down

Think about how you listen to the radio.

How often are you near a pen and paper? Or, since it's 2017, when are you near anything that can take down phone number within seconds of hearing it?

What if you're driving? That opens another can of worms. Do you have anything to write it down with? You should probably pull over... etc.

Listeners are passive

We know that radio listeners are often passive - that's why we try to make ads that stand out. Passive listeners aren't going to remember (or hear) your number.


1. Taxi companies around Australia used to (perhaps they still do) run jingles that really only said the number, so you just had to sing a jingle to dial a cab company.

You're not going to do a jingle campaign for a real estate agent.

2. Easy numbers like 13 XX XX or 1800 WORD. Even then you'd put a bit of cash behind a good campaign to push the number.


1. Run a jingle campaign which promotes an EASY number.

2. In this day and age, people Google everything. If you can get the listener to remember your business name, they'll Google it and find your number. Make sure you can be found on Google!

3. Push your website - although this can run into the same issues as your number.

4. Spend that time (eight-or-so words) talking about what your business does, to entice more listeners to check you out.

In short, avoid including your phone number because you can spend that time better.

I've been writing radio ads for around a decade. See some of what I've done here. I am also available for freelance work. Please contact me here with any opportunities.

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