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Small Business Digest


Tips, Tricks and Secrets to Make Radio Advertising More Profitable

In an increasingly multi-media world, many smaller companies are turning to radio advertising as a new way to reach consumers. 

They are attracted by the lowering of rates and the ease of purchasing time offered by new net-based buying services. 

However, buying radio time is not easy to learn and even harder to make pay off.

Mark Lipsky, President and CEO of Radio Direct Response, offers his 10 tips for successful and profitable advertising. 

The tips include:

  • And Now, A Word From a Dog - Or the cat.  Or the late Dr. Milton Connolly.  Any of these offbeat introductions would be enough to catch listeners’ attention and engage them to listen to what comes next.  Startle, shock or surprise with the opening line of the radio commercial and have more listeners paying attention when the commercial gets around to asking for the order.
  • So, How Much Did You Pay? - Just like seats on an airplane, the next five advertisers on any radio station probably paid five different rates for the same 60 seconds.  And while a company is unlikely to ever get a "written guarantee" that they are paying the absolute lowest rate, radio sales reps expect to haggle over price.  After all, the company is bidding on thin air.  So haggle!
  • What Are Your Measurements? - Many first-time DR markets leap into radio not knowing what to expect.  Have a game plan.  Know the target cost per lead.  Set realistic closing rate goals for the phone room.  Project the average sale.  Then watch those numbers like a hawk and tweak any underperforming components of the equation, rather than just shrugging and saying "radio doesn't work."  Many of radio's most successful DR marketers managed their way through disappointing early returns to turn their campaigns into year-round money makers.
  • Pick A Day And Own It - Rather than spread out 10 commercials over the course of a week on one station, why not air them all in one day?  Target a station with long TSL (time spent listening) patterns and "own" a Monday or Tuesday.  Not only will they company deliver the needed 3x frequency in a single day, they’ll probably enjoy a lower spot rate than retailers who drive up prices with demand for Wednesday-Friday spots to promote weekend shopping.  The tactic is called "Vertical Frequency."  Consider getting vertical!
  • Give It A Rest – The company has launched their radio campaign, achieved their target CPO and they can't shovel the cash at radio quick enough.  Want to improve the ROI?  Give it a rest!  Chances are a company could flight the campaign and take off every third, fourth or fifth week.  Airing 3 out of 4 weeks, for example, would cut the media costs by 25% but most likely would cut leads or sales by less than 25%, giving the company a higher ROI.  This could also help manage employee vacation time or days off.
  • How Many Times Can We Take Your Wife, Please - Using comedy in radio advertising is a risky proposition.  In the first place, some listeners won't find the jokes funny.  And those who do, probably won't after they've heard the same joke, week after week after week.  If a company is going to use comedy, be prepared to freshen the comedy often, as the folks at Mitsubishi do with their ongoing campaign featuring a gruff-voiced, wise-cracking announcer.  Without fresh copy, that campaign would have never lasted long enough to build the brand.
  • Don't Sell Me, I Want To Buy Something - Remember the last time a retail sales clerk said "Can I help you?" and someone automatically said "No" even though they really did need their help?  Treat every incoming radio lead as if they've called a phone center to buy something.  Don't sell them.  Something about the ad motivated them to call.  Learn what and why, then help them buy it.  Remember, everyone loves to buy things.  But most people hate to be sold.
  • Great Print Copy; Lousy Radio Copy - Too many radio commercials force announcers to tackle long-winded sentences that look great on paper, but sound terrible on the radio.  More often than not, the culprit is a print copywriter writing copy for radio.   ABC - Always be conversational.  Talk to the listener.  Don't read advertising copy to him.
  • Prepare To Fail - With very little exception, the first DR foray into radio fails to cover costs or generate profit.  But so long as the testing matrix is structured properly, the test will generate enough intelligence to be profitable from that day forward.  Be wary of any agency or advertising medium that promises profits on "Day One."  Venture wisely into a controlled testing environment, willing to lose money on the test for the reward of sustainable profits.  It's precisely this steely mindset that marks the difference between radio's top DR marketers and their competitors who test, fail and flee.
  • The $500 Focus Group - There are many great reasons a consumer might purchase a company’s products and services.  But which one triggers them to buy?  Send a letter with a crisp five-dollar bill to 100 of your existing customers.  Ask them what, specifically, inspired them to make their first purchase.  Offer a multiple choice of options.  Provide plenty of space for them to explain their actions in their own words.  (Do both.)  Enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope to ensure the return of these testimonial treasures.  For $500, plus postage, you'll gain some of the best advertising copy that money can buy.
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Lipsky has been President and CEO of Radio Direct Response since its inception in 1993.  He’s written over 3,000 radio commercials and is the author of  “Radio Tips – 101 Tips, Tricks and Secrets to Maximize Your Results From Radio Advertising.” 

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