Radio Advertising - Is it for Your Business? - More Small Business Power Tools

If you're a typical small business, you've probably been approached by at least several different radio station sales representatives. In most cases, he or she comes armed with all the latest rating information demonstrating, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that his or her station is number one among just the kind of people who would buy your products or services. She or he will also probably stress how inexpensive radio advertising is vs. TV or even newspaper ads.

Yes, radio spots are cheaper that TV ads and often even cheaper than newspaper ads. But there area few things you need to think about before you sign that radio advertising contract. First, is yours the kind of business that can really profit from radio advertising? Radio commercials are very ethereal. Once the 30 or 60 second spot is over, there is nothing physical for your customers to hang on to. You have to depend on their ability to remember your message long enough to take some action, i.e., either call you or come to your place of business. This means you have to have a very strong and compelling advertising message. This could be a special, and I do mean special, sales event, or some other special promotion.

Second, how many of your prospects will the advertising actually reach? Radio ads are much harder to target than some other forms of advertising because they can be purchased only by demographics such as age. You can pick a station that scores well with people age 18-35, but how many of these 18 to 35-year olds are really prospects for your products or services?

Third, when will your spots actually run? The most expensive radio advertising is called "drive time," which in most cities is 7:00 to 9:00 AM, and 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM. Drive time gets higher radio ratings because there are so many people in cars listening to their radios as they drive to and from work. The smart radio station sales person probably won't even try to sell you drive time spots because either they've already been sold or because she or he knows you're most likely to choke at their cost. Instead, they will most likely try to sell you some other combination of times and days. The important thing to know is when your spots will run and how many people will hear your message.

Because radio advertising is so ethereal (see #1, above), you need to do a lot of it to get your message across. This is especially true if you cannot feature a special sales event or some other special promotion.

One of our local jewelers is a good example of what to do when you do not have a special event to promote. The main thrust of his advertising is for engagement rings. Just think about this market. A guy buys only one of these during his entire lifetime (theoretically), and could decide to make his purchase on just about any day of the year. So how do you reach this market? He buys so many commercials, I don't think a day goes by that I do not hear one of his spots. Sure, it's expensive, but it's the only way he can guarantee he will reach a prospect just before he purchases a ring. Plus, he has advertised so heavily and for so long, I don't think a man in this city could buy an engagement ring without least thinking about this particular jeweler.

I don't think it makes much sense to run a commercial that requires your prospect to remember a phone number. In most cases, he or she will not be in a position to drop everything, grab a pencil and write down your number. What would be more effective, in my mind, is to use a web address, especially if your web address matches your company's name. For example, if the name of your store is Great Memories, your web site should be www.greatmemories.com. Repeat this at least a couple of times in your commercial to help prospects remember the name of your business and drive them to your web site. You can then use your web site to provide more your business's address and phone number, and well as other important information.

The radio station will most likely offer to do your commercial for you free or at a reduced cost. This can be a good deal for you but you must provide the station with a list of "talking points," or those sales points that must be included in your commercial. For example, your list might include:

Store name = Great Memories (at least twice)|

Store description: Everything for the avid scrapbooker

Web address ? www.greatmemories.com (at least twice)

Special sale = all items reduced 30% this week only. Once a year sale. Stock up on your scrapbooking supplies now

Store address: 5600 Brookhaven

Finally, make sure you get to approve the script for your commercial before the station records it. As you review the script, think about your customer and make sure it includes everything necessary to get them to contact you or stop by your store.

Article by Douglas Hanna. Douglas is a retired advertising and marketing executive and long-time Denver resident. He is the webmaster of http://www.all-in-one-info.com, a free resource for information on a variety of subjects. Please visit his site to subscribe to his free newsletter, "Tips & Tricks to Save Money & Live Better."

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