In the 21st Century, the potential for advertising one's business is vast. From old-fashioned print to social media marketing the options are seemingly limitless and, with the advent of potentially free online channels, such as Twitter and Facebook, paid-for marketing packages for TV, radio and online have been forced to lower prices. While TV advertising may still be beyond the reach of most small businesses, there are still some attractive deals to be had by turning attention to regional and local radio.
In the UK, we listen to an inordinate amount of radio, even though we may not realise it. We wake up to it, drive to it, work to it, play to it, bathe and shower to it, and even go to sleep to it. Accordingly, radio has become an increasingly powerful marketing medium. If you’re considering this route, you’re not the only one. More and more companies are turning to radio advertising to reach these burgeoning captive audiences.
Radio advertising influences us all whether we realise it or not. We have all bought products or services, consciously or subconsciously as a result of hearing an advertisement on the radio.
Radio advertising can be produced to fit any company’s marketing budget or reach any target audience you choose. More and more stations are targeting their broadcasting to highly specific audiences, be it young, male or female, sport fans, seniors, aficionados of classical, pop, jazz or nostalgia music. Radio can be used to reach any possible demographic audience.
A small business may choose to work directly with the radio station to keep costs down or, budget permitting, work through an established advertising agency. Whichever route you take, the underlying tenet is: negotiate, negotiate, negotiate.
What will it cost?
As a rule of thumb, radio advertising is charged at a rate of approximately £2 per thousand listeners at one time. To clarify, if a show has 100,000 listeners at 10am, then buying a 30-second spot at that time will cost you £200. The late show's 10,000 listeners at 11pm would only cost £20. Generally, expect for a slot of 30 seconds to cost around £250 - £1000 per week, depending on how often your ad is broadcast and amount of listeners.
It may sound complicated but any reputable radio station will work out the options for you, providing an estimated repetition figure, called “OTH” (opportunities to hear). As is the case with newspapers and magazines having to publish their circulation figures, radio stations have to do the same with their listener figures, which are audited and published by RAJAR.
Why should I advertise on radio?
Used appropriately, radio advertising is an effective method of reaching a target demographic. You can choose age, ethnic, or socioeconomic groups, without the use of expensive visual media. With the right stimulus, the ‘theatre of the mind’ will create imagery that is far superior to that of print or television.
Radio advertising doesn’t require the subject’s full attention in the same way that television does. Radio advertising can be in many ways almost subliminal and this is one of the major advantages of the medium.
It is true that radio advertising doesn’t have the same brand building power as television but, used in tandem with a robust marketing campaign, it can prove extremely profitable.
Radio advertising should be supported by a visible, easily-navigated and simple website. Directing respondents to your radio advertising to a sub-standard website can have a detrimental effect on your business.
Where to start
There are several guiding principles when creating radio advertising:
- It’s all about repetition - do not schedule erratic slots. You need to hit the same people with the same message - this is the key to good response levels
- Always negotiate the very best slots - there’s little point in wasting money on shows in the “graveyard” slot (10pm – 5am) when your core customer base is asleep. In saying that, it’s often better to get a sensible repetition on a smaller audience that remembers your ad than a huge audience that doesn’t
- Negotiate on price - all advertising departments have ‘rate cards’, which are the standard rates they would like to charge you. However, in the current economic climate, it’s very much a buyer’s market and those rate cards are flexible, depending on how often you advertise and how close the station is to meeting its monthly budget. Remember: there’s always a deal to be cut.
At the end of the day, as the client, you decide what your advertising package contains. However, reputable agencies and stations will involve you in the creative process.
The main things to remember are:
- Avoid being cheesy. The best radio advertising uses humour or pathos to engage its audience, delivers its message clearly, and contains the bare amount of information to do the job
- At all cost, avoid getting behind the microphone yourself. It may do wonders for your ego but some of the most unpopular - and therefore ineffective - radio advertising is where the business owner decides to become a radio “star”. Leave it to the professionals
- Brevity is important - a radio ad is between 30 and 60 seconds at most, so radio is no place for long lists of features, offers, or corporate waffle. Get the listener's attention, make a relevant offer, and generate a phone call. Focus on one idea and drive it home
- Your company’s name should appear three times – beginning, middle and end. Try to get the location of your commercial property in as well so that people know where to find you.
- The offer should appear twice - once to register, once to review and appreciate
- Don’t scrimp on time - if your business is worth 60 seconds, don’t try to cram it into 30 seconds. If you advertise effectively, the extra expense will pay off in the long-run.