How to Buy Radio Advertising in Calgary (or anywhere else)

The media landscape is clearly changing.  Results from the CMUST study show that the average Canadian spends the majority of their time with 3 kinds of media….TV, Radio and Internet.

I believe that most companies should align their marketing budget to reflect the consumption of media.  If you want to catch fish, you’re best chance of success is to fish where the fish are.


My main objective when working with clients is to provide sound advice on integrated marketing campaigns that grow their business so as to develop long term business relationships.   If a campaign isn’t working there are things we can adjust to try and correct the problem.  If your campaign isn’t working for you, it’s not working for me either.

I happen to sell radio, but understand that radio is just one tool in their kit.  In my mind, radio is a very important communication tool for any company.  


In my opinion, radio is often underutilized or overlooked.  In many situations, clients choose to deliver their message from more “familiar”  platforms such as newspaper or yellow pages.  Unfortunately, these two specific print forms of media are decreasing in usage yet still maintain a high cost of message delivery.  Given radio’s affordable delivery of a frequent message to virtually any demographic,  I felt it appropriate to help shed some light on how to buy radio advertising for the Calgary Market.

Any media can work to grow a business.  There are several considerations to get the most ROI from any marketing campaign.  Here is a list of things to think about that will have an impact on the success of any campaign.
  • are you paying a reasonable price for the size, quality & frequency of audience that your message is being delivered to?
  • what are your goals? how are you measuring them?   
  • how do clients and prospects interact with your company?  Can you measure those touch points?
  • The success of any campaign is based on the size of impact with an audience.  If you’re not advertising during the Superbowl, then most campaigns will require frequent message delivery.  Is your campaign spread too thin over too many media to make an impact?
  • Do you have the right message?
  • Are your chosen media platforms delivering your message to the right people?
In traditional media platforms (ie TV, print, yellow pages, outdoor, radio, magazines, direct mail), your company pays for access to the audience/community that already exists.   The type of media that you buy will dictate how your message will be packaged and delivered.   TV is Sight + Sound.  Print is sight.  Radio is Sound.   Martin Lindstrom has made a pretty convincing argument that the more senses you engage with your campaign, the bigger the impact that your campaign will have. The majority of traditional media formats only allow for one-directional communication.  You can broadcast a message, but not really engage in a conversation.
With Social Media platforms (ie. twitter, facebook, youtube, digg) your company has the ability to create and build your own audience/community.  With this type of media platform, your business can distribute and broadcast your own content.  This ability to create and publish your own content is liberating but you are also required to build your own audience/community.  It seems to me that the key to building an audience on a social network hinges on 5 main steps

  1. explore types of social media platforms
  2. create,  publish or redistribute great content
  3. connect with like minded groups and care about people.  
  4. share your ideas
  5. repeat over and over again

Social Media platforms are unique in that they allow for multi-sensory two way communication.  

Both traditional and social media platforms are important tools to use to connect with consumers throughout their decision making journey.

Everybody.  Stations are differentiated by their programming.  In larger markets like Calgary, there is a station designed to appeal to specific target demographics like Men, Women, Baby Boomers, Gen Y, News Junkies, Sports Fanatics, Young Executives, Moms, Rockers just to name a few.   Many of these stations also have build databases of their target listeners which means any advertiser can reach their desired target group with on air, online and social media methods.


The station that best matches your target audience.  Once you’ve saturated that audience, expand to the second best station match.   As one of my colleagues so eloquently says, ‘if your selling bananas, you better be speaking to monkeys’.

If your business is in big market, the answer is all the time.

The main goal of advertising is to influence consumers into “action” when they are in the market for your product or service.  There are numerous “actions” to try to achieve.  You could ask consumers to call  a number, check out your website, share with their friends, contribute to your brand or buy a product.  Each of these actions requires a unique metric for measurement.

The truth is that (in most cases) we don’t know when consumers are triggered to investigate a product or  make a purchasing decisions.    If consumers are investigating, you should be advertising.

There are many myths about when people listen to radio.   More people listen during the work week to the morning show than any other time of the week is one that I hear often.   Interestingly,  our radio stations  and here in Calgary, have at least as many listeners during the day as there are during the commute times.  If you skip the midday, you’ll skip a huge part of our audience.  


This depends on your message.  The more complicated your message, the more likely you’ll need to use a 30 or 60 second commercial.  If you have a short message, you can buy 5, 10 or 15 second commercials.   
Whatever the length of commercial, the main objective of of your campaign is to connect to the radio audience.  More specifically your real objective is to connect to your chosen consumer within the whole radio station audience.   You can connect with these potential consumers with traditional commercial messages but also through a radio stations online community.

That depends on the station you want to buy and your goals.   In general, you should get the the best rates if you buy a ROS (run of schedule aka TAP or REACH)  program.  You’ll also get lower rates the more you buy.  It’s worthwhile asking radio reps about any special programs that give you commercials during each of the 4 dayparts (breakfast, day, drive, evening) over a long period of time.
The cost of radio advertising will also fluctuate based on the number of commercials you buy per station.   Each station has a recommended weekly minimum to be effective.   Some stations are programmed to have listeners stay to listen for long periods at one time ie. country.  Other stations are designed to have listeners tune in and out mulitple times during the day ie. news.  Ask your rep what the appropriate number of commercials is for your chosen station.

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