Tuesday, June 27, 2006

RADIO ADVERTISING COMMANDMENTS - Part 1

In my last article "Local Advertising - The Biggest Mistakes" we took a look at the major media available for local advertisers to market their products. To follow up, I'd like to discuss the many uses of Radio. Sort of the 10 Commandments Of Radio Advertising. This will take up several pages, for sure, so I'll start by asking the most obvious radio questions.


Q: How do I know if radio will work for me & why should I use radio?

A: I usually have gotten these questions when a client is afraid & can't stomach the idea of paying for an Advertisement that they can't physically hold on to. In other words, they think that if they can't SEE their Ad, then no one else can. They seem to have a hard time believing that a disembodied radio voice can move people to buy their product.


Yes, it's probably true that most advertisers get their feet wet with print advertising. Your typical print advertiser will place an Ad in a local weekly or daily newspaper and bingo, the next day - traffic. The results can be quite immediate.


Radio is a different animal and although it can work as effectively as print, it can be equally disappointing to a seasoned print advertiser.


Local radio advertising can turn off a new advertiser who expects immediate results, but it doesn't have to be this way. Here are 10 reasons why "immediate results" are hard to come by:

1) the spots were not aggressive enough

2) the offer was not strong enough

3) there was not enough weight (number of spots) booked

4) the wrong local radio station was used to reach the desired market

5) not enough radio stations were booked

6) only radio was used

7) spots were poorly placed throughout the day

8) the production was poorly executed or the wrong announcer used

9) timing of the campaign was off

10) the new client had no name recognition


This brings me to Commandment #1
Thou Shalt Not Underestimate The Power of Radio.

The voice is a wonderful thing.

Used properly, it can move you to tears, unleash a fury of anger, sooth both physical and mental pain, irritate you like chalk on a blackboard, hypnotize you into the most embarrasing behaviour, fire you up & motivate you to accomplish the most daunting tasks, fire up a nation to battle, seduce the most cold-hearted soul and yes, it can certainly convince you to happily part with your money.

In fact, the people who make radio production their livelyhood, are paid quite handsomely to get you to do things that are not on your priority list.

Ever listen to a movie trailer? Listen to the announcer. His job is to get you to see that movie. Whether you realize it or not, the impact of that voice lasts longer than you may be aware of.

You may remember the visuals, but it is the EMOTIONAL AUDIO IMPRINT that leaves you with a "I've got to see this when it comes out!" memory.

It is the same subliminal effect that radio can create.

The problem faced, is that most radio production quality can often be sub-standard.

Let's face it - the radio station copywriters are under the gun to write & produce dozens of spots a day & there just isn't enough time to write super creative & dynamic commercials. Even if the copywriter can squeeze out something really hot, there is often a lack of voice-over talent to make it happen. Let's not talk about the studio engineer's backlog!

This doesn't mean that you can't have an effective radio spot come out of a radio station. It just means that to make it
more effective, you may have to go to a third party production house to get your spots professionaly produced.

This brings me to Radio Commandment #2
Thou Shalt Get The Best Creative Production Possible

Why do you want the best creative possible? Well, there are several reasons.

1) it makes your advertising more effective

2) the cost of your campaign can actually be lower if more people respond to a better commercial, as fewer spots are necessary to make the same impact

3) better creative is more memorable.

4) strong creativity entertains and sells at the same time

5) powerful creative radio spots get people talking about the spot & consequently the product

"OK," you're saying, "but this sounds like it's going to cost a fortune!"

Nothing could be further from the truth. What will cost you a fortune, is a radio advertising campaign that falls flat because the production was not up to scratch!

Remember, advertising is an investment if you eventually get back more than you paid. It's a fortune if you don't get back anything!

In order to make sure that there's a payback, I highly recommend you look at all the variables and creative production is high on the list!

This brings me to Radio Commandment #3
Thou Shalt Develop A Strategy & Stick With It

There are many ways to use radio. Short campaigns, long campaigns, image building, promotions, product launches etc.

The first thing to be aware of is that new advertisers have to develop name recognition with a station's audience. This isn't as important for long time advertisers who have used other media, but it is crucial for first-timers.

Well known advertisers are seen as reliable and trustworthy. The longer you advertise, the more favour you win with listeners. It is like money in the bank.

I advise all new advertisers to start with an introduction campaign to highlight who they are, what their product is and the benefits of shopping at their store.

This doesn't mean that you can't break the rules and have a one-time grand opening with a fantastic door crasher special. Certainly that will work. But ideally, the best results for that type of scenario come when a "teaser campaign" precedes the grand opening.

It also doesn't mean you can't change certain elements of your strategy in the middle of a campaign. You may decide that you need a stronger promotional item. I say go with it! Just don't give up on radio after the first week if it doesn't bring you the expected results you were looking for.

Let me state that much of the advice offered here is what I believe to be the "safe route" to effective radio advertising. Even under less optimal conditions, radio can be quite effective!

What you want to do, however, is not succeed by throwing tons of money into your advertising, but rather, to cover all the essentials so that you have an effective and cost efficient campaign.

Good planning can go a long way.

In my next article I'll continue with commandment #4
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