How to Advertise on the Radio and Make a Ton of Profits

So many profit seekers are hacking at internet-marketing these days. It’s so easy to forget that marketing is marketing. Every medium has power. Billboard advertising has its advantages. Post cards have power. Business cards have some power. (I once did a mailing and sent out three business cards in an envelope. No letter. No explanation. I got a whopping response off that mailing. Curiosity got them. They called in bundles asking “Why am I getting this card?” My only failure was not having a prepared sales script ready to make a pitch. I forgot why we did the mailing. It was years ago. But we got a surprising response.)

Anyway… I’m writing to give you some ideas on radio advertising. Radio is an overlooked darling in the marketing mix. Radio has a loyal following. Radio is intimate. Radio is immediate.

Here are my random thoughts on radio advertising.

1. Use 60-second spots. 30’s and 15’s are too short to do any real selling. If you can get them, use 120 seconds.

2. Be human and make mistakes. My example is the old Paul Harvey ads. Mr. Harvey would pause, sta… sta…stutter and sound very earnest when he was endorsing this or that product.

3. If you’re going to follow my advice, avoid “donuts”. Donuts are radio spots with music at the beginning and the end, and your message in the middle. The companies who use donuts mostly do not measure RESPONSE. If they measured response they’d know that the music at the beginning and end is the equivalent of white space in your print ads. White space sells nothing. In your print advertising you want to want to pack your ad with convincing copy. Over the years I’ve collected many ads that were mostly white space. For fun. I even have one ad from the NY Times that was ALL WHITE SPACE except for the address of the seller in the middle of the ad. No name of the company. No message. No offer. No convincing. No reason to pause. No reason to reflect. No reason to slip a check under the door… no matter what the address of the business was. The creators of the ad, were full of themselves. But buyers could care less about you the seller. They only care about what’s in it for them. So… fill your radio ad with persuasive, convincing REASON WHY copy. Don’t waste your money on music. Let the radio station supply the music. Your job is to convince the listener to stop what he’s doing and change the course of his/her life and buy what you’re selling.

4. Make sure you MEASURE your response. Ask the listener to do something RIGHT NOW. Call this toll free number NOW. Go to this web site NOW. Write down this number NOW. Mention this offer code x889. Etc.

5. Identify yourself at the beginning of the ad. Listeners want to know who is speaking to them. It also implies authority.

6. Preach BENEFITS in your ad. Benefits are different than the FEATURES. You need some features to make the benefits they get believable. But BENEFITS are the key to getting response.

7. Don’t try to be too cute, clever or funny. People don’t buy from clowns. They buy from serious presenters who present a deal that will really give them an advantage in their lives.

8. If the people at the radio station tell you your ad is good. Kill the ad. They are so used to hearing it all, that they typically think an ad that is funny, clever or cute…is the winner. NO. NO. NO. You want your ad to be INVISIBLE. If people say yours is a good ad, you’re in trouble. Instead, you want people to hear the ad and say “Wow, that sounds like a good product/service.” If you can make the PRODUCT or SERVICE shine… you ad becomes invisible. You can get the wrong kind of attention. You’re goal is seven-fold: To (1) Attract and (2) Hold the (3) Favorable (4) Attention of the (5) Right Kind of people (buyers) while a (6) Selling Story is told and a (7) Desired Reaction is induced. It’s not to entertain.

9. Identify your buyers right at the beginning. “If you’re a home owner, listen up… I’ve got good news for you.” Or… “If you’re looking to supplement your income, here is a tested, proven way to make money in today’s tough economic world.” Etc.

10. Use enthusiasm. You cannot bore people into listening and buying from you. If you’re excited about your product or service, let your excitement shine.

11. If you want to know WHICH station(s) to advertise on… go to the local car wash. People will tell you they listen to this station or that station… because people say one thing but actually do another. But if you go to a car wash, you can grab some towel wipes and wipe down the inside of their car. While sitting there, turn on the radio. You’ll see for yourself exactly what people are listening to the most. A surprising number of people listen to talk radio. The Rush Limbaugh stations are hot and have been for a long time.

12. Negotiate the price. Some radio stations will do “Per-Inquiry” ads. But you have to have a track record of paying off on those deals. Or be associated with a legit inbound call center that tracks inquiries and sales. Also, remember that a radio only has TIME to sell. And if they don’t fill those spots, they can never recover that lost income potential. They will negotiate. I often say… “What do you want for 5 spots a day for 10 days?” … and they say “$X amount.” Then I say, “I was thinking only half that amount… what if we meet in the middle?” You goal is to make a profit. Not to profit the radio stations. Know your numbers. If you sell a product for say $100… you need to sell at least one product for every $100 dollars of advertising expenditures. You’ll be losing money, but know your numbers. Most companies loose money on the “front end” when they market a product or service. But they make it up in spades on the “back end”. The “back end” is when a one-time buyer becomes a multiple buyer. Know your numbers.

13. Test in small markets. Roll out in larger markets. You can buy radio time in small towns like Beaver, Utah… or Clinton, N.C. for $5 or $10 bucks a spot. Bigger towns demand $100 to $400 a spot.

14. Mix your radio with other media. Even with a 60-seond ad, you’ll likely need to do more convincing. Have your telephone people ready with a prepared, convincing script. Drive them to your website. Tell them to watch their mail for a special offer from you.

15. If you’re going to do radio in mass… slightly change your message around so the listener won’t shut you out. Perhaps you’ve read about Broca’s area of the brain. If things get too predictable this is the area of the brain that gets bored and seeks something new and more entertaining. By slightly changing your message every other ad, the brain says “wait… didn’t I hear that differently before?” They suddenly become more engaged.

16. Use celebrities if appropriate. There are lots of actors and actresses who are out of work. If you can find one that fits your target audience… or fits your product model, a celebrity can boost response.

Hope these ideas help. If you want to talk, my contact information is below.

Natasha M. McKnight

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