Adding Radio Advertising to Your Marketing Mix

Author: Stratton Date: January 30, 2013

Radio Ads for Small Business

Advertise often, take as much airspace as you can afford, and build a memorable message, say experts.

At Wixon Jewelers in Minneapolis, Online Marketing Director Jayme Pretzloff hits the airwaves heavily, running radio ads weekly on at least three stations, an average of three times a day.

"I view radio as more of a long term proposition. It’s about awareness and brand building, repeating your name constantly," he says.

Experts say Pretzloff is on the right track. Radio may not generate immediate sales, but for those willing to invest for the long term, it’s a great way to generate brand recognition and customer loyalty.

"Radio works best in the relational phase," says Kyle Caldwell, a marketing consultant for Cox Media Group in Atlanta, which operates four radio stations. "We are telling your story and building your brand and educating people about you as they drive down the road, even when they don’t have an immediate need for your services."

I view radio as more of
a long term proposition.
It’s about awareness
and brand building,
repeating your name

It works, in part, because of the intimacy of the medium: Radio seems to speak to us personally.

Success Tips

In a survey of radio listeners, the research group Radio Ad Lab found that listeners perceive radio as a "one-on-one" experience, an "emotions-driven" environment. Because of this personal connection, they are more apt to see radio ads as being personally relevant.

How to make the most of that openness on the part of consumers:

  • Plan for a long-term play.
    "You want to sign off on a budget that you can afford every month, as opposed to taking your entire advertising budget and rolling the dice on a short-term play," Caldwell says.
  • Make it memorable.
    "Put a powerful ad on the radio. If you don’t have a powerful ad, it will sound like every other radio ad you’ve ever heard. Yours should delight the mind of the listener. It should be intriguing, with information that people find relevant. It should mean something. It’s got to be something that matters," Caldwell says. For many, this will mean engaging the skills of a professional copywriter.
  • Be ready to repeat.
    "Buy 52 weeks: Be on every single week of the year. Never let up. Buy as much as you can for as long as you can afford to buy it. The brain really needs that repetition to get that message. The way you earn a permanent spot in memory is to constantly be advertising, as much as you can afford to," Caldwell says.
  • Work with your radio stations.
    Caldwell says, "if you build a great relationship with your ad providers, they can help you in ways that might not be apparent," for instance, by offering special promotions and discounts.
  • Avoid the demographic trap.
    It’s true that 25-to-54 year olds are generally considered the sweet spot, but that covers a lot of ground, and maybe your business really only needs to touch the 45 to 55 range. In that case, a station geared at 25-35s, while still within the magic zone, may not be what you need.

Consumer Insights into Radio Ads

The Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB), an industry advocacy group, points to a number of trends that can serve as a guide for small businesses looking to capitalize on their radio spend.

People are far more likely to recall commercials that repeat a brand name multiple times. Listeners need to hear an ad more than once before the message begins to sink in. Longer ads work better: A 60-second spot has higher recall than a 30-second commercial.

How to make it work? Advertise often, take as much airspace as you can afford, and build a memorable message. This can mean investing a considerable percentage of the overall marketing spend, but as the experts point out: Radio is a long-term investment, offering long-term rewards.

Read Next: Taking a look at what belongs in your marketing mix? Radio ads work in both urban and rural markets.


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