How Radio Advertising Rocks the House for Local Businesses

There are many hard-working, local businesses sprinkling their ad budget around many different local advertising mediums. My prediction is that those advertisers are frustrated to the point of kicking every advertising sales rep out the door who walks in.  And they’re confused. Everyone seems to tell them a different load of bull about advertising. They’re confused about how to make their advertising do what they want it to do.

Radio Advertising

Photo courtesy of “digitalart” / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Radio advertising is one of the most difficult forms of advertising to write…effectively.  But once a business hires a radio ad writer who knows how to make it work, good things follow, and it doesn’t seem that hard at all.  A good ad writer will make it look easy.  Radio can draw crowds for sales and special events.  But the true strength of radio lies in long-term consistent branding.  Branding a local business is really no different from branding a billion dollar company.  You want as many people as possible to think of you first when they need your product or service.

Radio reaches people.  Period. It reaches consumers – people with wallets that would like to spend their money.  And the affordable repetition that you can get with radio is an essential ingredient in branding your local business into the minds of the public.

But THE most important element for making radio work its absolute best…is in the message.  What you SAY is what matters most.  Give me the cheapest radio spot rates, along with a crappy radio ad, and you’re still wasting money.  To all those cheap rate seekers out there, you’re overlooking the most vital part of an ad campaign.  You need to have a high-caliber message in order to make it work.  That’s what should be researched, sweated over, and pounded out before you decide to spend any money on your advertising.

What kind of message works?  There are all kinds…

Some like to be creative and funny.  But beware of being overly creative and forgetting to include the selling part of the ad.  Like legendary ad man David Ogilvy said… “It’s not creative, if it doesn’t sell.” You know, the kind of commercials that spends 23 seconds setting up the joke and the last 7 seconds poorly selling the product.

I find that stories work really well.  Or even a short mini-story within a radio ad. Any story that helps draw more attention to how your product or service helps your customer…is a good story.  Any story that helps the listener “connect” with the owners/employees is a good story.  People love to do business with people they know (or feel they know).  People love to do business with people they trust (or feel they trust).  A story that helps the listener connect emotionally with the product, service, owner, employees, etc. is a good story.

When telling stories about the owner of a local business, not just ANY story will do.  It’s got to have an “engagement factor” included.  You can’t just tell any dumb story about a business owner and think that the public with give a hoot.  It’s best to be completely candid and truthful with your listener and portray that YOU, the mighty and powerful business owner, are human too.  Don’t ever try to trick a listener into becoming your customer…seduce them with care and frankness, and make it possible for them to trust you and get to know you better.

The bottom line is that radio works great for those local businesses that want the public to remember THEM first and not their competitors.  Or if the industry is saturated with competition…radio can at least put you on the short list as an option…rather than not being an option at all.

Radio works great for business owners who truly want to grow and are competitive by nature.  You’re either growing or shrinking – if you don’t want to beat your competitor and gain market share – radio might not be for you.  If you don’t have a budget for growth or at least for maintaining market share – radio might not be for you.

Don’t “spray and pray” with your ad budget. Find out what works (like radio), find someone who understands that the message is the most important ingredient in a successful ad campaign, and focus your ad dollars there.  You’ll know if it’s working by setting goals for your business and seeing if you’re on pace to reach those goals by checking them at 6, 9, and 12 months the first year.

One last note… some say radio advertising doesn’t work. But I have a nice handful of customers who can prove the naysayers wrong. When it’s done right…when you have the right people on your “radio team”… it’s one of the best weapons you have if you’re a small to medium-size local business trying to grow and get an edge up in your market.

Have a great day!

Duane Christensen

Sioux Falls Radio Advertising blog

And to learn more about seducing new customers with your advertising you can get the Kindle edition of my book here, Take A Bigger Slice.

I work for Results Radio / Townsquare Media in Sioux Falls. I write ads and help my clients attract new, profitable customers. I started as a wide-eyed radio rookie in 1998 and love helping good businesses grow and attract new faces.

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