Radio Advertising Strategies that WORK FAST!

  • Comments: 10
  • Written on: January 29th, 2009

I have had a ton of success using radio (AM and FM) and I prefer it over all other mediums for dominating a local marketplace.

Over the past 10 years I have learned what works, what doesn’t work, and what you can do to leverage your relationship with a radio station to gain the maximum exposure for the least expenditure.

If you do things right, you can penetrate a market quickly and effectively.  If you don’t, you can always blame the bad economy for your failure 🙂

Here are some surefire radio advertising strategies that can transform the fate of your business in weeks – not months and leave your competition wondering how you do it.

Define Your Campaign Goals

Before you start a radio campaign, you need to have simple, straightforward, and measurable goal. It is not enough to say “I want a commercial that will bring in customers.”

Before you write your commercial, tune in and listen to some other commercials.  Notice how they all ask you to take a specific action?  To have a successful commercial you need to know what SPECIFIC action you want your customer to take.  Do you want a phone call, a visit, a hit on your website – be specific.

Have a Simple Message

Keep your message simple.  You don’t have time to be complicated, cute, or tricky.  Your commercial should:

  • Talk about Benefits – not Features
  • Show Undeniable Value
  • Ask the listener to take an action

If you think you can do more than that and still have a good commercial you are kidding yourself.  These three things are a LOT to get done in :30 seconds.  Here’s an example of a radio commercial campaign.

No Such Thing as a Home-Run Radio Ad

The average person will need to hear your ad 11 times before they LISTEN to it.

If the listener doesn’t process your ad, they won’t react to it.  The number of times a radio station listener hears your ad is called the frequency of your commercial, and it is more important than any other factor.

You might need to air your commercial as many as 30-50 times to get a frequency that convinces listeners to take the action you are asking them to take.

If you can’t afford the frequency you need, try cutting your ad shorter or ask your sales representative to bonus you unsold inventory.  If you can’t get a good frequency, your ad won’t work – period.

How Long Should Your Commercial Run?

One of the biggest myths about radio advertising is that you need to constantly run a commercial.

I have found that running 2 weeks on and then 2 weeks off is a good compromise that gets the frequency you need without busting the bank.

If you have the budget to do more, consider expanding your campaign to a second station and doing 2 weeks on one and then 2 weeks on the other.  You can then measure the results to see which station is doing better.

Measure and Compare Results

If your sales representative is any good he or she will make an excellent case why their station is better than all of the others in town.  Sometimes they are right, but often ignoring other stations, or even station groups, is a huge opportunity loss.

If you have ever heard a Dell radio commercial you might notice how they ask listeners to go to for special price discounts.  This is how Dell measures their radio campaigns against their other marketing efforts (like

Ask your listeners to call a different telephone number, go to a different website, or identify where they heard about you so you can see what works and then refine your marketing to make it more effective.

Never Pay the List Price

In almost every instance the numbers that your advertising representative gives you are negotiable.  You can get additional discounts by:

  • Just asking for them
  • Agreeing to a multi-month contract
  • Asking about special promotions
  • Joining local business associations (there are often special advertising discounts to members)
  • Creating a mutually beneficial trade agreement
  • Buy through an advertising agency (the rates agencies pay are lower in many cases)

What is a Mutually Beneficial Trade Agreement?

This is best explained through an example.  I own a computer repair company in Lincoln, NE.  A few years back we partnered with a radio station to give away a new computer every day on the air.  We gave the station about $20,000 in computers to give away.

That sounds like a lot at first, but look at how we benefited:

  1. Every 15 minutes the radio station said our name for a full month – Top of Mind Awareness!
  2. The radio station gave us $20,000 in commercials we could spend any time we wanted
  3. We received 20 new customers for our customer database
  4. We had the opportunity to upsell extended warranties and accessories to the new customers (earning $7,000 back that same month)

Anytime you can align your interests with the interests of the radio station, that is a recipie for success!

What if You Can’t Afford Frequency

If you can’t afford a frequency that gets results, don’t spend the money.  You can spend smaller amounts on guerilla marketing techniques that will generate smaller, but less expensive results.

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