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Facts That Will Change Your Perspective on Radio Advertising
A comprehensive guide to why you should (or should not) use radio as a marketing tool.
Listing to radio advertising in the car.

Facts That Will Change Your Perspective on Radio Advertising

I have a confession to make. I listen to a lot of radio advertising. That’s because, as part of my job as a copywriter I like to see how other marketing agencies are approaching radio ads. I’ve heard some ads that are pretty good, but I’ve also listened to some real stinkers.  I began to wonder if it even mattered. It’s all ‘interruption’ based marketing and most people just tune it out right? Well, like everyone else I turned to the internet to find out and, oh boy, I don’t think I’ve ever seen marketing agencies so divided.

Depending on how you phrase your google query you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for. “Is Radio Advertising Dead?” Yes! Don’t waste your money. “Is Radio Advertising Still Effective?” Absolutely, it’s the best bang for your marketing bucks. It doesn’t take much digging to find out that there are many vested interest engaged in this online debate. Let’s cut through all that shall we, and find out if radio advertising is right for your business.

The Sizable Audience You’re Missing Out On

Turns our that about 90% of American’s listen to the radio on a weekly basis. That’s more than television and social media and its true even with millennials. Surprising, I know. It should be mentioned that those who watch TV and use social media spend a considerable more amount of time on those platforms. However, you can rest assured that radio will always reach a wider audience of both regular listeners and casual listeners. Does that mean that radio is right for your business? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There are a few more considerations you need to make.

radio ads during the drive

Radio Ads Have Been Proven Effective… Most of the Time

So the common claim made about radio advertising is ‘it is the best medium to build your brand.’ Warning: I sense a bit of hyperbole. Or perhaps it is a claim that stuck around since the golden age of radio. (I might have a horse in this race but I’m going to say that content marketing is the best way to build your brand, but I digress.) Radio, unlike internet and television is very immediate. Radio doesn’t offer visual queues and logos that can help cement a brand in the minds of the audience or, in the internet’s case, a steady drip of content. Instead, radio can grab the public’s attention for 30-60 seconds and if there isn’t a compelling call to action it is very likely they’ll quickly forget. Does that mean that radio advertising is a dud? Well it all depends on what your offering.

Let’s talk about demographics real quick. Although radio reaches a huge audience it’s largest reach and appeal is actually with African Americans and Hispanics. Do you have a product that would appeal to these demographics? Then radio is a sure bet.

Do you want to educate the public on why your product is superior to your competitors? Do you want to emphasize how your company’s ethical approach is good for the community and the planet? Then I would suggest giving radio a pass. People may appreciate the message, but if they can’t associate that message with a business, its a waste of time. However, if your goal is promote a sale, a grand opening, an event or a a number to call then radio may just be the best medium to create a quick and actionable response from the public.

How To Make Radio Ads That Will Blow Your Mind

Even though you don’t have flashy visuals to catch your audiences attention doesn’t mean you can’t be creative. Although, this isn’t always necessary. Sometimes radio ads can be purely informative which is fine. However, you always need to consider the kind of voice actor who will have the highest appeal with your intended audience. The first thing you’ll want to do is get all the relevant information into the script. This includes your company’s name, number to call, and what your trying to promote. You’ll most likely want to repeat this information more than once so keep that in mind. Again, I think its crucial to go into your radio campaigns with a specific offer to the audience in mind. Let them know they have to act fast or risk missing out.

Once you’ve got all the important information in there, find out how much time you have left to get creative with it. If you’re lacking on space, consider going all informative. Analyze the other commercials playing in your market. Whether your going for informative or creative, it is important to differentiate yourself from the other campaigns that might be playing around the same time as yours. If the audience can’t distinguish one commercial from the next they are way more likely to tune out. Get them hooked early, the first few seconds of your radio ad will make all the difference.

A Breakthrough in the Longstanding Debate

So when it comes to the debate of whether radio is king or radio is dead, it turns out they are both wrong. Radio is a powerful medium that works especially well with certain businesses or products and not so well with others. Despite that, mega-corporations still saturate the airways with their messages because, why not? I mean, radio is surprisingly affordable. Which puts it in reach of your small business. So knowing what you know now you should be able to decide whether or not radio works for you. If it does, there is little reason not to go for it.

P.S. Did you know that internet radio (Pandora, Spotify) is still classified as radio. Weird, I know! Despite the fact that subscriptions allow you to opt out of ads, you’d be surprised how many people don’t. Just because its on the internet doesn’t mean you can’t advertise locally so don’t miss out the chance for broader appeal by utilizing internet radio in your next campaign.

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