Despite lacking a visual component, hearing the spoken word through radio can be very powerful thing even on its own. It has a magnetic quality that makes it seem personally directed to every listener. For many people’s daily commutes, sharing their drive time with the radio is as much of a daily ritual as morning coffee. Unlike television ads, which are now often skipped over through DVR playback, radio spots can’t be overlooked as easily.
Targeting a radio audience is not always as easy as it may seem. Rather than going on your own gut assumptions, utilize information gathered by companies such as Neilsen Audio, who conducts comprehensive polls that provide insight for advertisers trying to target specific audiences. They survey listeners by age group, what time they listen and where they listen to the radio.
When choosing a station to broadcast your ad, be sure you're not choosing it because it reflects your own personal tastes, but the taste of the larger audience you are trying to reach. Take the time to actually listen to the stations you’re considering. If you decide to go with more than one station, you may need to consider tailoring separate ads for each to match their demographic.
Where and When?
Your budget is obviously going to have a direct influence on the frequency and placement of your ads. Realize that you do not have to be on the air every day for people to think you are, however. If your audience hears the same ad several times over the course of the week, it will seem to them a though they hear it daily. Focus your budget towards getting spots when you know your audience will be listening, rather than putting money towards a higher number of ads that are only shown during off-hours. For example, assume your audience is mostly commuters traveling to work in the morning and back home again in the afternoon. Consider running two of these ads close together during these hours to improve your chances of hitting your target (and possibly some of them twice).
Just like with most other types of advertising, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all ad rate for radio. Costs are based on the length of the commercial, how often it airs, the time when it will to be broadcast and the station's reach. Don’t hesitate to ask the station or network questions about rates, and be sure to compare them with competitors. If the station knows you're shopping around, they could cut a deal with you for special rate to fit your own needs.
Making the ad
Choosing the subject matter and producing an ad is best done as a joint venture between the business, advertising agency, and radio station. You know your company better than anyone, so the ideas need to start from you. From there, the advertising agency and station can then take your basic idea, trim the fat, and come up with a concise script. Try not to pack too much information into a limited amount of time. Keep your message simple and easy to remember. Focus on a few key points which to reinforce, like a website address you'd like listeners to check out. Phone numbers can be hard to remember unless the number itself is simple and memorable. I can't think of anyone who would actually want to try writing something down when they're driving.
Who is going to speak in the ad? Will it be someone from the company or a professional voice over artist? Hiring a pro can give your script a slick-sounding delivery, but at an added expense. Going DIY can give an ad a more down-to-earth delivery, but if you're is hesitant in front of a microphone, recording may take quite a bit of time in the studio to get right. Another option is to have a station DJ talk about your product or services in a conversational tone along with the rest of his show.
Radio advertising obviously may not work for every company. It usually requires a longer commitment than other options for it potential to come to fruition. Building listener awareness takes time. You’ll need to be financially able to stick with it until it begins to work for you. If you do a one-time slot, you’re really not going to see much response. That said, when used in conjunction with other visual formats of advertising, radio ads have the ability to reinforce preexisting images in the minds of listeners.