Along with press and television, radio is one of the most popular forms of advertising. It can also be one of the most effective. But before embarking on a radio campaign there are a few points you should keep in mind.
1. Target Market… In most markets there will be a number of stations you can choose from. Generally these stations will each attract a different listening audience. For example, the music played on your local FM station may be aimed at people aged between 25 and 39, while the AM station may attract listeners aged 39+. When considering which station to use, it’s important to keep in mind who you’re trying to reach. Don’t simply choose a station because it’s the one you listen to. Choose the one your customers prefer.
2. Costs… There are 2 costs you’ll incur when advertising on radio. Obviously you have to pay for the time your commercials are actually on air (airtime). You’ll also need to pay to have the commercials produced (production costs).
Prices may vary between metropolitan and regional stations, but as a general rule of thumb you can expect to pay between $50 - $100 to have your commercials produced and production by an advertising agency can cost substantially more. Whilst you can make substantial savings by dealing directly with the station, it’s important to remember that an expensive commercial that works, is better that a cheap one that gets little or no response.
Unlike other forms of advertising you need to spend a minimum amount before you begin to see any worthwhile results. You can expect to spend approximately $2000 per week in a regional market, and around $3000 with a metropolitan station. To spend any less on your campaign is a waste of money. You simply won’t be able to get the repetition required to get you a result. Repetition is important in radio advertising, so you need to make sure that your commercials are played on a regular basis.
3. Schedule… Now that you’ve had your commercials produced you need to decide when you want them to go air. There are 2 basic types of schedules that you can choose from.
The first is ‘run of station’. This simply means that the station will decide when your commercials go to air, in other words the specific time of the day that each commercial will be played.
The second type is ‘target placed’. Using ‘target placed’ commercials gives you the opportunity to decide when each commercial is played. Normally ‘run of station’ placements are less expensive than those which are ‘target placed’. They are also far less effective.
Your local station will have survey figures that indicate the most popular listening times for your potential customers. You need to find out which are the highest ¼ hour listening shares for your target demographic rather then pay for your commercials to be played at a time when your target market is not listening. Your station sales representative can tell you which times will suit you best.
4. Number of words per commercial… As a rule 65 – 85 words is the limit for a 30 second commercial. This can vary however depending on how many sound effects you use. Remember that radio is back ground medium. Most people will listen to the radio whilst doing something else, such as driving or working in the garden. Understanding this it’s important not to put too much information into your ads. You should only focus on one theme, the one “big idea” that you want to get across.
5. Choosing the right sound… If your commercial is to standout from the rest you need to consider 3 main points. The first thing you need to consider is who you want to voice your commercial.
You may be tempted to voice the commercial yourself. However unless you have a good voice for radio you’re better off getting someone else to do this for you. You need to keep in mind who you’re trying to reach and the type of person they’ll find believable, a voice they can relate to. If you decide to use a local announcer, keep in mind that they probably won’t be able to use terms such as ‘us’ and ‘we’. If you want the reader to sound like a representative of your company you may need to source outside ‘talent’.
Sound effects are another important consideration. Used effectively these can help create a mental picture for your clients. For example the clutter of dishes in a kitchen setting or the sound of a lawn mower in the background while two neighbours talk. Your local station will have a number of different effects that you can choose from. You may even decide to have your commercials recorded “live” in store. This allows you to create the impression of your business being a popular, vibrant place.
You also need to give some thought to the type of music to be used. Music is optional, but if you decide to use it in your commercial, keep in mind that it must suit the mood you’re trying to create. Whilst music can help attract your prospects attention, it should not distract them from your selling message.
6. Some radio myths… Having considered all of the above you need to be mindful of certain myths that radio sales people would have you believe.
One of my favourites is that of ‘image advertising’. This is a tactic used to get you to spend vast sums of money without being able to gauge the effectiveness of your commercials. Your advertising dollars should only be spent on specific promotions, services or products. This allows you to test and measure the results.
Package deals are another method of milking money out of the unsuspecting business owner. This typically occurs late in the month when the station is behind on budget. These can sometimes be worthwhile providing your commercials are aired at a time that suits you and not simply placed ‘run of station’.
Because radio is a background medium, your target market will not be able to remember things like 8 digit phone numbers. If yours is the type of business that relies on customers phoning you, then you should consider other forms of advertising. Alternatively you can instruct them to look for your advertising in the Yellow Pages.
Radio is at its most effective when it creates a sense of urgency on the mind of the consumer. Using terms like ‘hurry must end soon’ or ‘today only’ will generally give you the best results.