Is Radio Advertising Cost Effective For Your Small Business?

Ask your radio sales rep how much should your radio advertising cost and they will open their briefcase, pull out a rate card and quote you a price.

Remember this - the rate card is NOT carved in stone. Your radio advertising cost is both flexible and malleable, not at all fixed or rigid. But that's not what your media sales rep will tell you.

They'll tell you the rate cannot be changed, that the price quoted is the lowest price you'll ever get, but that is rarely, if ever the case.

Having worked in radio as a retail, regional and national sales rep and having been a sales manager for 4 radio stations I can assure you that price is negotiable.

Radio airtime is a product with an expiry date. Once the clock ticks by that open airtime slot, the opportunity for the station to generate an income is gone forever!

Like empty seats on an airplane or unbooked rooms at a hotel, most station sales managers would rather take anything for the unsold airtime than watch it go by without generating a penny for the station.

My experience has taught me that you can always get a better deal and lower your radio advertising cost. Never accept the first proposal presented, always ask your rep to sharpen their pencil and resubmit. Don't be in a hurry but negotiate with your sales rep to get the best price possible - but only if radio advertising is appropriate to satisfy your small business marketing plan in the first place.

The actual radio advertising cost is only one element to be considered when radio advertising is suggested as a media choice.

Thirty or sixty seconds is not a long time to motivate listeners to take action. The ad copy needs to grab attention in the headline, give people a reason to keep listening, provide information about the product and/or service being advertised and finally, it must tell people what to do next.

Advertising Copy

Most of the radio advertising you hear on your local radio station is terrible. The reason for this is that most sales reps have never learned the basic fundamentals of marketing. They don't know what good marketing looks or sounds like.

The station writers have to write commercials for so many clients they rarely have the time to get to know you as a client; your needs, wishes, desires, etc. They don't understand your products and services like you do and they don't have the time to give you the attention you need.

Just because your radio advertising cost includes commercial writing and production is no reason to feel obligated to use the stations' services. There's no point blaming someone at the station or pointing fingers, it's just the way it is, so take control and create your own radio advertising scripts.

Do you have a recognizable and interesting voice?

Then consider being your own spokesperson!

Small business marketing often requires that you wear many hats and learning how to write your own ad copy is a skill that will pay you back many, many times over in your career.

Stephen Covey, author of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" wrote: "begin with the end in mind".

What is it that you want your listeners to do after they've heard your ad? Do you want them to come into your store, contact you by phone, email or fax? Should they visit your website, and order a free "special report" to become better educated about your special skills, experience or talents that clearly differentiate you from your competitors?

Far too many radio advertisers don't tell their listeners what to do so they have no way of measuring their results. At the end of the campaign they have nothing to measure so they assume "it just didn't work".

But if you work with your sales rep, giving them targets such as 20 new leads gathered, 20 emails requesting more information or 20 new customers coming into the store for their free special report - whatever the number you agree upon - at least now you have an outcome you can measure. When your radio campaign produces the results desired, you can stay on track but if not you can adjust and revise your campaign until the numbers improve.

Balance your radio advertising cost with the measured results to determine whether or not you made a profit and if radio should continue to be a part of your marketing mix.

Advertising Rates

If a station refuses to lower their rates, you can decide whether or not you want to do radio advertising. Cost conscious buyers know there are always alternatives in the marketplace at any given time. Should you choose to move forward, ask your sales rep to come back with some "added value". Ask them to run your entire schedule again between midnight and 5:00 am at no charge. Most stations have the overnight inventory so ask them to put your commercials in those spots.

Find out what their "bonus spot" policy is. Do they offer a discount for long term, large schedule buyers?

Another way to lower your overall radio advertising cost is to consider how the radio station might be able to use the products or services you sell. Offer to trade your products or services to the radio station for retail value.

If, for example you sell hot tubs, the station may take a hot tub that you paid for at a wholesale rate and give you the retail value of the tub in commercial air time.

And if your hot tub becomes a major prize for a station contest, you can get even more exposure. Let your radio advertising sales rep know that you are willing to trade or barter your goods and services and ask them to speak to their station promotions department to see if they can put your hot tub to good use.

Speaking of media sales reps, would you like to know how to manage them better and boost response while saving big money?

Then check out these 10 questions you must ask your media sales rep.

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