Why radio advertising could be the best thing you
ever did for your business
By Michele Pariza Copyright © 2004
In the marketing world, radio has earned the reputation
of being the odd step-cousin. You know the one. No one knows quite what to do
with him. Especially at family gatherings when everyone tries hard to avoid
sitting with him. (After all, who knows WHAT he'll start talking
Much of that reputation comes from radio being tough to track. On
one hand, radio does work. Businesses do notice an increase in sales when they
add radio to the mix. However, radio doesn't test well. In surveys and other
tracking methods, radio tends to be the one with the dismal scores.
good friend of mine, who's also a marketing consultant but before that she sold
radio for many years, has a theory about that. She says radio works on a
subconscious or unconscious level. People remember the ad, but not that they
heard it on the radio. So, they tend to credit a different medium for the ad,
like the yellow pages. Yellow pages gets a boost while radio drops a few
Regardless, radio should not be ignored because it does work. And
many marketing consultants will probably tell you radio is an excellent medium
to reach a local market.
However, I feel there are possibilities beyond
merely reaching local customers.
Internet radio shows are starting to
take off in a big way. That means advertising and sponsorship opportunities
are also taking off. In addition, "offline" methods have been shown to be pretty
effective at driving traffic online. If increasing Web traffic is your goal,
using traditional media outlets to increase traffic should be a part of your
If people already know you (which they might in your local market)
they're more likely to be loyal. And they're more likely to send other customers
to your site. Depending on the costs of radio in your community, radio may
very affordable way to get a good viral campaign going. (A viral campaign is
what happens when other people pass around your business' e-mails to their
friends and family, or send them to your Web site.)
positive reasons to use radio:
- Affordable -- when you compare spot to spot, radio tends to be one of the least
expensive media out there. However,
one spot ain't going to do it. To reach your target market, you need to
several spots. That's why radio can also turn into one of the more expensive
media. However, there are ways to keep your costs in line yet still reap
benefits of radio -- for instance, buying less spots but running them all in
or two weeks, so your customers are more likely to hear your message.
if you voice the commercials yourself -- hearing your voice makes
people feel like they "know" you. (Hence the popularity of audio on Web sites.
In fact, marketing gurus claim just by adding audio to a site substantially
increases how many people buy.)
tend to buy from people and businesses they know and trust. Hearing
your voice helps them feel as if
they know you. These psychological aspects may be another reason to consider
a few radio ads in your local market even if you have an Internet
- Speed -- you can get your spot up and running in no time.
- Loyalty -- listeners choose stations based on the music or shows they like
and they tend
to be quite loyal to that station. If you know
what your customers enjoy listening to, it's an excellent way to reach
both music and talk shows in this.)
support medium -- radio works really well when paired
with other marketing mediums (like print, direct
for every positive, there's a negative. In the spirit of being objective,
here are a few for radio:
medium -- radio tends to be on in the background, which means it
tends to be ignored.
Generally, your target market needs to be exposed to your ad
more times than other
marketing media before they'll act upon your message.
staying power -- the lack of visuals again keeps
radio from "sticking" with
people. At least, that's what some of the marketing gurus
say. But, here again my marketing
consultant friend differs. She thinks it's that subconscious
And if you can write a spot that creates pictures
in your customers' heads, you can actually work this to your
advantage. In fact,
according to my
friend, if the picture is defined enough, not only will
people remember it better,
they'll also think it was a print ad instead of a radio
ad. (More on the art of creating pictures using words in later
to track -- it's impossible to know exactly how many people are
tuning in at
any given time.
final note: Because radio is subconscious, keep that in mind when
crafting your ad. Repeat your business name
a lot and
any other branding
info, so it gets into your customers' heads. Don't
put in phone numbers. Instead,
purchase a memorable Web site domain name and repeat
that. And remember to create "pictures" whenever possible.
Creativity Exercise -- How can you
use radio in your business?
Would radio work for your business? Let's
Take out a sheet of paper and a fun pen. (I'm partial
to gel pens.) Draw a line down the center.
On one side, put the header: Why
advertising on radio is a good idea for my business.
On the other side, put the header: Why advertising
is a bad idea
for my business.
Now pick a side
and start writing down reasons.
You might be more comfortable starting
with the side that's easiest for you. Then when you
work on the other side, you can simply turn the reasons
For instance, let's say you started
with the bad idea. One of your reasons was: My product
is completely visual. You could turn it around by saying "Because my product is so visual, I'll have
to work harder to create pictures in my customers' minds. And because the customers
create their own pictures, they're more likely to remember them."
if you started with a good idea, and one of the reasons
was: "Because my
business is local." You could turn it around and say "Because radio is holding
me back -- I'm only reaching this local market." (Ah, now I'm even going against
what I said earlier. Maybe with this statement you could look for ways to get
your customers to spread the word outside the area about your
As you saw by my last example, you'll be amazed at
what comes out when you do this exercise. Even if you
don't change your
on radio advertising, you may come up with new and
powerful insights to
|Michele Pariza Wacek
owns Creative Concepts and Copywriting, a writing, marketing and creativity
agency. She offers two free e-newsletters that help subscribers combine their
creativity with hard-hitting marketing and copywriting principles to become more
successful at attracting new clients, selling products and services and boosting
business. She can be reached at www.writingusa.com.|