Over the Airwaves – How to Make the Greatest Impact with Radio Ads

by | Dec 6, 2019 | JFG News

Advertising is a constantly changing field. What works today wouldn’t have worked yesterday and probably won’t work tomorrow. Even within this ever-evolving landscape, however, some mediums have continuously provided marketers excellent opportunities to be noticed.

One such medium is radio broadcasting. Here are a few pointers to help you really stand out on the airwaves.

Radio? Still?

Although it isn’t normally thought of as an advertising powerhouse in our current digital-first age, 93 percent of Americans ages 18 and older reported being exposed to radio content on a weekly basis as recently as 2017, says Veem. Even as the public continues to move toward digital content consumption, it is very likely that radio ads will remain relevant for years to come.

Classic radioWith traditional radio going nowhere fast, there are many opportunities for marketing teams to get the word out about their businesses. EMarketer reported on a recent study conducted by TagStation and Radio Advertising Bureau that showed radio ads boosted store traffic by an average of 22 percent for the brands monitored. These types of figures show that radio is still very much a part of the lives of many Americans and should not be overlooked by marketing teams.

Don’t wait to grab attention

More than most other mediums, radio marketing relies on quick, attention-grabbing tactics that immediately engage with the audience. In part, this is due to the medium itself – these spoken ads have to reach listeners who have only their sense of hearing to absorb the messaging. Most other media platforms such as television or digital video ads have the added benefit of appealing to more than one sense. This means they have a greater opportunity to make a strong first impression, because even if the audio doesn’t attract attention, the video still might – and vice versa.

Since radio engages only through audio, your opening has to be dynamite to get people to listen. There are multiple ways to do this, but the most effective ways of differentiating yourself from the rest of the pack often involve using famous or boisterous voices, music or sound effects that can immediately land with listeners.

Having an appealing and interesting radio spot is critical to make customers engage and truly listen to your recorded pitch. As MBASkool notes, one tried and true method of stoking interest is by utilizing the problem/solution approach model, where you present a problem your audience faces – sometimes one they may not even be aware of having – and then provide a solution to alleviate the pressure that problem causes.

By positioning your brand as a problem-solver, you stage your product or service as something the audience needs without leaving them wondering what benefits you offer.

Mix, match and supplement

Although there are many ways to be memorable through radio, audio alone is often outdone by campaigns that reinforce their radio spots with visual campaigns as well.

As a supporting aspect, a visual campaign doesn’t have to be a grand, expensive undertaking. Something as simple as a basic outdoor campaign with a few bus stop and billboard ads could go a long way in reinforcing the messaging in your radio spots. People may hear your ad a few times on air, and then are reminded of it when they see a billboard on their way home from work. The repeat exposure increases your brand’s likelihood of being recalled.

This can also work in reverse order, as marketing teams can supplement a really good outdoor, TV or digital campaign with a few short radio spots. In either case, the idea remains the same. Using multiple platforms expands the reach and exposure to a larger audience while also working to reinforce the messaging across different mediums.

Who’s your audience?

Radio marketing also offers an opportunity to strategically choose your audience to help reach target customers. One of the most important benefits is listener demographics, which stations can typically provide to help guide the timing of your ad placement.

Man listening to radio advertisementWhile you probably won’t find a comprehensive list telling you which stations will be best for which type of product or service, you can often get insights on the demographics of a station’s audience. Since different stations and formats cater to different types of listeners, you can utilize knowledge about the type of content a station features to identify the typical listener. For instance, you may reach middle-aged men who listen to a morning sports radio program or office workers who tune in weekdays to an easy-listening pop station. You already know who you want to sell to, so demographic information can help you decide which station will provide the greatest reach to your target audience. JFG’s media team can help, as well, and we offer the advantage of having local partners and contacts nationwide to help optimize your radio placement.

You’ll also need to keep your audience in mind when making other decisions about ad creation, such as who you choose to do the voiceover. Generally speaking, there is no evidence to suggest that the voice from one gender gets more of a response than the other, so your decision will really come down to finding a voice that represents your brand persona the most and that will resonate with your customer base.

Message length and frequency

Radio ads can be purchased as 15-, 30- or 60-second spots. And while it may be tempting to go for the full minute every time to give yourself room to work, that might not always be the best bet.

First off, unless they’re truly spectacular, most people don’t love long ads. With longer spots, you also increase the possibility of losing the audience’s attention along the way, meaning your calls to action may fall on deaf ears. As a rule of thumb, it is better to keep someone wholly engaged for an entire 15-second spot than it is to excite them for 20 seconds before boring or annoying them the rest of the time.

Now, if you have a very dense message to get through and can’t get your point across quicker, go for a 60-second spot. These spots provide the greatest opportunity to pack in everything you need to say, and as long as you keep your message interesting and engaging to listeners, you won’t need to worry about getting tuned out. However, if you can get away with condensing your message to fit in a 15- or 30-second ad, do it. These shorter spots are more budget-friendly and with the shorter runtime, can also offer you an opportunity to increase your message frequency. These ads can be fit into more slots in the radio schedule and cost less than a longer placement, allowing you to run your ad more often, increasing the likelihood that it will be remembered.

While there’s no magic formula to finding the right placement frequency, Leighton Broadcasting recommends the 21/52 schedule – 21 ads per week, every week of the year. This schedule should reach the average listener roughly three times each week, which helps immensely with promoting brand recall among your audience.

When matters

Once you’ve decided on how often you want to run your ads, you need to plan out what times of the day you want it to play before your scheduling is complete. It goes without saying that certain times will have a higher rate of listeners. Morning and evening commutes, afternoons, lunchtime and weekends all offer high listening rates, but it is not enough to target just one.

A very successful radio campaign will almost always utilize more than one – if not all – of these time slots to improve their brand recall chances. Spreading out your messaging increases the likelihood of acquiring repeat listeners. For example, an individual might listen to the radio only when driving to and from work. By scheduling during the peak morning and afternoon commute times, that individual will likely hear your ad twice each day your ads are broadcast.

Our role

Now, we know this might be a lot to process and implement. We know because we do this sort of thing every day. From concepting and writing spots to communicating and scheduling with radio stations, we have the expertise necessary to do radio right for your brand.

If you need help developing a great radio campaign, we would love to work with you. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn to learn more, or call us today at 716.433.7688 to discuss your needs and goals.

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About J. Fitzgerald Group

JFG is an advertising and marketing agency located in Lockport, NY. JFG has helped businesses and organizations create and execute effective marketing strategies for 20+ years.