On Hold Messages Made Easy

How to write an On Hold Message

Copywriting FRAMEDHow to write an On Hold Message

An On Hold Message speaks volumes about your business to a motivated, captive audience.  They can be a valuable addition to your marketing activity and are most effective when used to inform, motivate and reassure your callers.  So putting a little effort and forethought into it, with give you full confidence that when you press that on hold button on your phone system, your callers are going to feel respected.  Your aim should be to provide callers with worthwhile information that they can derive immediate benefit from and leave with a positive impression of your business not to bombard them with a self-serving, irrelevant pitchfest. 

When used well, an on hold message:

  • Enhances your image.
  • Ensures your clients are well aware of your key benefits.
  • Can upsell clients to other services you provide.
  • Answers commonly asked questions.
  • Sets your clients’ minds at ease – reassuring them they’ve come to the right place.

When used badly… you can lose a customer for life.



When writing your on hold message, it’s worth keeping in mind how most on hold messages are structured.  They tend to be formatted as follows:

  1. A short introductory piece of music followed by the first paragraph of information,
  2. Music Gap (5-10 seconds)…
  3. Another paragraph of content….
  4. Musical Gap…
  5. Repeat until content is completed… (the number of paragraphs as desired)
  6. Message loops to begin again at the start

An On Hold Message will probably run for somewhere near four minutes and then loop back to that start.  This duration will give you about six paragraphs of up to 30 seconds for well crafted marketing content.  You can cover a fair amount in that time, so it pays to map out your content ideas into this structure to ensure you cover all the important ideas you wish to convey and will help make it simpler to craft.



How often your clients call and get put on hold will impact your message.  If infrequent, having a well written on hold message created will probably be sufficient and will serve you for a good amount of time with little need of updating, unless you plan on promoting time specific content.  If your customers call frequently it would be worth getting your on hold updated sooner, several times a year would be beneficial.  You could also have several on hold messages created in advance and rotate them on a regular basis.

Keep in mind, “updating” your message could be as simple as altering the voice talent or music used in the production, or changing the order of the messages.  Another option is to update individual paragraphs within your existing message.  A single, time-specific paragraph can be replaced or an extra one inserted to keep your message current and valuable.  Also, don’t be afraid to mix and match voices, a variety of male and female voices can be used to create interest and variety for the caller.



When writing your message, keep in mind…

  • Your callers have called you because they know you exist and feel that you can provide assistance or fill a need they’re experiencing. So there’s no need to include superfluous or obvious information.
  • Respect your caller’s time. Reward them with valuable information, not a hard selling pitch-fest.
  • Don’t waste your caller’s time referring to obvious products and services that people naturally expect you to offer.
  • Write short paragraphs. Your message will sound better in smaller portions with one main idea per paragraph.



  • First and foremost, tell the caller where they are and thank them for calling. Something like – “Thank you for calling [Company Name], please hold, an advisor will be with you shortly” is a good start.
  • After greeting, make the first few segments the most valuable.  Provide points that will interest your clients most.  If you’re promoting an event, have a special offer, a free magazine and the like make sure that this information is communicated clearly.


  • Keep in mind that your message plays on an endless loop and callers will start listening at various points throughout.


  • Tease callers with value – such as:  “Stay on the line and request your free magazine when we return” or “Stay on the line and get your 15% discount code when we get back in just a moment.”


  • Give them an incentive to stay on hold.


  • It is also good if you normally take a while to return to the call to offer some alternatives, such as:   ”Thank you for your patience, please continue to hold and we will be with you shortly.   Alternatively, you can send an email to… order online at… press “0″ to leave a message and we’ll call you straight back.



In brief – here is a list of the type of content that works well for a “Finance” related industry:

  • Refer to your basic products and services – in brief.
  • Highlight current offers and special deals.
  • Provide timely reminders (BAS lodgement, Tax, Handy Tips).
  • Reassure your clients by mentioning your industry accreditations.
  • Highlight any specialised expertise and experience.
  • Mention any industry awards you may have won.
  • Prove you’re local by mentioning your community involvement
  • Can you offer any training or information to your clients.
  • Let clients know how to find you easily.
  • Clarify your fees up front.
  • Focus on the benefits offered on your website. (tools or useful articles)
  • Highlight positive customer feedback.
  • Mention your turn-around times.
  • Refer to any guarantees and assurances you offer.
  • Focus on what makes you different from other accountants?



When it comes to the writing the meat and potatoes of your message, here are some worthwhile questions to ask yourself…

What value can I provide my clients?

What would I like them to know about me that they don’t already know?”

Do you have expertise in any specialised field of accountancy?

Are there any particular industries that you can cater for that stand you out from the crowd?

Do you provide for your client needs in a way others don’t (your location, speed, capacity)?

Have you recently won any industry recognition?

What’s changed in the accountancy field that you can bring people up to speed on?

Are there any specific seasonal activities that a reminder may be useful for – tax time, reporting responsibilities and the like?

What about taking your most commonly asked questions and pre-empting them with some helpful tips and tricks?  You know – “Here at Smith Finances we often get asked – what’s the best way to keep track of so and so… we find the easiest way to do that is… and so on”.

How can you ensure you’re providing value for your callers?  How are you rewarding them for making contact?

What value does your website provide?

Do you have any tools or calculators on your site that would be worth drawing your caller’s attention to?

What customer feedback have you received that you could subtly point to?

What useful links or articles are no your site that can benefit your clients?



  • Don’t include all the obvious things that people already know.  You don’t want to state the obvious. We know a dentist does fillings and cleans teeth, so focusing extensively on these things would waste valuable time.

That doesn’t mean basic information isn’t valuable but it’s probably wiser to cover these sort of things – common treatments, your opening times, where to park, how you prefer your payments to be made, your referral process and the like in a single paragraph.  Not making it a shopping list may require you to put some thought into it.

  • Your on hold message is also an excellent way to educate your callers about any other services you offer and the things that set you apart from your competition.  If you’re a chiropractor, do you offer any related massage services?  If you’re a hair dresser, do you offer make overs?  An optometrist who performs laser surgery?  What do you do that others don’t?
  • Use your on hold to offer helpful tips and advice to your callers as this shows respect for your caller’s time. Answer your most frequently asked questions.  This type of information is usually received well and will leave callers with a positive impression of your business.
  • Mention your extracurricular activities.  If you support any community events or local sporting teams, promote any community activities, are involved in local programs or volunteer in relevant fields, feel free to mention them.
  • Have you won any recent awards?   You don’t want to spend too much time blowing your own trumpet, but the occasional reference to yourself is totally acceptable.  Just ensure you do so in a non-abrasive humble manner.
  • Does your website provide value to your clients?  Do you have useful tools or products on your site that you can point to? Make sure you point your callers towards your site.


Answering questions such as the above will provide a solid foundation for a very powerful and purposeful on hold message.  One that will benefit your callers, increase their satisfaction with you and also improve the opportunity for you to expand your activities with them.

We hope this has got your creative juices flowing and you have some solid food for thought to help you write your own on hold message.  If you’d like any more information or have any questions, please contact us anytime via our website – www.onholdmessagesaustralia.com.au and we’d be happy to help out.