Two Opinions on Effective Radio Campaigns

I found this article Radio Advertising Works With These Tips! posted by Tyrell MacGregor in 2008 on Digg.  I’ve added  my own tips in italics below his.

Advertising on the radio can be an effective lead generation strategy. But like all marketing tactics, success or failure lies in its implementation. Here are 15 important tips to help make your radio advertising more profitable.

1. Make sure you match the station to your intended target market. For instance, if most of your projects are sold to an affluent middle-aged clientele, it”s best to advertise on a station who”s audience is comprised of this same demographic. To pick the right radio station, poll your best clients and ask them what station(s) they listen to. If you begin to see a consistent station pop up in your survey, there”s a good chance that you”ll find more clients amongst that station”s listeners.

I completely agree that its important to fish where the fish are.  If your business is flourishing with the perfect client, then great, ask your best clients not just about the radio stations they listen to, but what media platforms they use to shop.  

However, there are lots of reasons to not poll your existing best clients.  What if your goal was to sell more high value products/services?  What if your goal was to lower the age of your average client?  The great part about radio is that you can select specific target groups to initiate conversation with

2. Use a first sentence that grabs the listener and demands attention, preferably by leading with a benefit or asking a curiosity-provoking question. Example: Would you like to have the nicest home in your neighborhood?

Grabbing attention is important, but lets call a spade a spade.  Advertising in most forms is an invasion of a consumer’s 5 senses.   Who wouldn’t like the nicest home in your neighborhood? 

My advice?  Be real.  I think honesty will grab consumers attention more than any gimmicky line.  Take a look at the most popular shows on TV…Amercian Idol, So you think  you can Dance, Bachlorette…all reality shows.  What about online?  On Youtube, there are lots of ‘kids’ out there with over 1 million viewers per week just broadcasting from their bedrooms.  Honesty sells. 

3. Make your spot easy to understand. Be straightforward (not clever or funny).

Belissimo Tyrell, Belissimo.  Clever and Funny are ok in my books (old spice anyone?)

4. Use a compelling voice. Having a popular radio personality deliver your spot, if possible in a loose, conversational way, often works best. This works even better on a talk format, or call-in style program. The transition between “show” and “commercial” is often seamless, making the spot seem like “news” from the radio personality.

A popular radio personality is recognizable, but the radio personality is tied to her own radio station.  What if you wanted to expand your message to other radio communities? 

My advice?  develop your own voice.  Consumers can smell bullshit miles away.  They know the differenct between ‘show’ and ‘commercial’.  Here’s the real news….They’re onto us.  Treat them like they’re intelligent.

5. Authenticity ?If you can, offer to do some small job for the radio personality as a way to demonstrate the quality of your work. This way, when the radio host endorses your company, he/she can say “they”ve worked on my home and they did an outstanding job. Showed up on time, did the job right the first time, stayed on budget and they were clean”. This type of first-hand endorsement can be powerful, especially if the radio host is popular with his/her listeners.

I don’t understand why Authenticity is a question.   Authenticity is the new standard.  Try the oldschool approach to convince consumers what your business is…google will tell them who you really are.

The real question here should be “offer to do some small job”.  Don’t you mean bribe?  There are so many shameless plugs from radio personalities that all they’re really good for is a businesses’ ego.  this only works if the endorsement is genuine.  

6. Test your spot on a small scale before committing to an extensive advertising schedule.

This is a tricky one.  I the need to be fiscally responsible, but lets define small scale.   Test your radio campaign for 13 weeks.  Why 13 weeks?  because there only a  few consumers using any media that need your service today.  there will be many more next week and more still this month.  

Lets look at the car industry as an example. 

I’ve been told by my car dealer clients that the average person buys a car every 7 years.  If you’re city had 70,000 car owners than that means your estimated market per year is 10,000 consumers…roughly 833 per month or 208 car sales per week in the entire city.   Of these 208 car purchases per week how many are domestic vs. foreign?  car vs. truck vs. suv? under $40k vs. over $40K?  your dealership market share vs. competition?

If you run a campaign for too short a period of time, you better have an incredible ‘i can’t pass this up offer’ otherwise it will fail.

7. Make your phone number easy to remember and repeat it often.

I really like my wife, but I can barely remember her number.  I can call her by name from my cell, or text or email or facebook. 

I can promise you that I will not remember your phone number.  Unless you sing it to me over and over and over and over..over years.

I can also promise that when I shop for things, I have a list of brands in my head to start looking at, will look them up online and see what other brands/product/services are comparible.  I will often check to see if you’re brand/product/service has been reviewed before calling your business.   When I ready to purchase, i’m looking for your business to live up to my expecations in price/sevice.  After I purchase, I’ll occasionally leave my own online reviews if i’m able which in turn will influence others. 

This is normal consumer behaviour.

8. Include specific, compelling, reasons why your company is unique and the best choice. If you have a good company story, use it.

Good call.  Ross Smith from says that you should tell consumers who you are, what you do, why you do it better than anyone else and why I should believe you.

9. Have a strong offer. Few advertisers using radio understand the importance of an offer. An offer answers the question in the prospects mind, “why should I call now”? This also makes your advertising measurable and provides a list for follow-up marketing. Avoid weak offers like “free estimate”.

Lets not forget that I don’t want to call now.  I’m busy.  If I don’t call now does that mean that your offer isn’t available to me tomorrow? The best offer is one that will resonate with clients.  Find out what they want.  Start a dialogue.  Invite conversation.  Converse with them on the media platforms that they use.

As for weak offers lik the ‘free estimate’, free is expected in this case.  As a consumer, I’m more interested in a ‘no hassle estimate’.  I don’t want to have to jump through hoops to find out how much your service will cost me.  make it easy for me to do business with you.

10. Ask for action. Have a strong call to action ? “Call now”.

see point number 7.  I don’t want to call you.  I don’t often call my friends.  In fact, emails are passe.  I text most of my friends.  I will find you online before I call. 

Can  you track the number of web visitors?  what’s your bounce rate?  Where do people visit on your site?  What platforms can you converse with people on?  How many conversations are you having on these platforms?

Go ahead and ask for action.  Just make sure you can be found.

11. Negotiate ad rates. Oftentimes advertising rates are negotiable. Don”t be afraid to ask for a better deal.

totally makes sense.  Just remember a good deal isn’t the same a cheap.  Compared to all other traditional media, radio is already cheap.  In Calgary (and most cities), the biggest radio station will reach more people weekly than most newspapers, primetime tv shows, magazines and/or yellow pages.   At standard rates, the cost to conncect with the radio audience each week is less than all these other options.

12. Consider off-peak times. Morning and afternoon drive-times are often the most expensive time slots to advertise on. Test your spot just before or after these peak times. Example: if morning drive-time is 6:00 ? 9:00 AM try advertising at 5:30 AM and see if the reduced ad rates are worth it.

radio is a habitual medium.  Each listener has a typical day with their station(s).  If you only advertise to the morning listeners, you’ll likely miss all the people listening at night.  The best rates you’ll get are when you buy the off peak and peak times together. 

Advertising your message during peak & off peak times is actually a good thing for a few reasons.
1. you’ll reach more listeners than cherry picking any one daypart.
2. most of the time, you can’t predict when a potential consumer is triggered to start a purchase journey
3. if you’re inviting business conversations, is there really a bad time?

13. Don”t try to reach too many people all at once. It is better to reach 10% of your prospects 100% of the way than to reach 100% of your prospects only 10% of the way.

Good point.  I take this to mean, start with 1 station.  Communicate well with that audience.  When and if budget allows, try to expand your message and open communication with other station’s communities.

14. Don”t select radio programs or formats for your own personal likes or dislikes, but rather for the audience you want to reach.

couldn’t have said it better myself:)

15. Distinction is an effective tool for attracting people. That sound effect, theme music or “sound signature” will help your ads make an impression.

Distinction is another way of saying Unique Selling Proposition.  What makes you different?  A sound effect can be an important distincition, just as what you say is.   Just using radio can distinguish you from your competition.  Last time I listened, I didn’t hear a single lawyer on Calgary Radio.  They’re all in the yellow pages though.   

Tyrell MacGregor is Managing Director of FootBridge Media, a Referral Marketing Company that specializes in client newsletter templates and home improvement marketing solutions for home improvement contractors. Visit them at’

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