We’ll Be Right Back After These Messages: Successful Business Marketing in Radio

By Vicki Wyatt, Vice President of Creative Services

Long before iPods™, eons before Pandora™ and YouTube™, and a lifetime before Sirius XM™, there was good ole radio. Baby Boomers and Yuppies remember dialing up their favorite station and calling in requests to their favorite DJ, catching the weather and a sports score — and yes, diggin’ silly jingles and funny commercial messages. Some say video killed the radio star, but they could not be more wrong. Radio is alive and well, reinventing itself to compete with message-free entertainment.

But I am biased. I made radio broadcasting my career for 18 years. It’s from this experience and my current role as a media planner/buyer that I heartily endorse it as a medium for projecting a business marketing message. According to Entrepreneur Magazine, an Arbitron study shows that radio reaches 94 percent of everyone ages 12 and older. And with many stations streaming their programming over the Internet, the other 6 percent is probably being tapped as well. But running a successful radio campaign takes some savvy know-how and intelligent planning.

Caught Between a Rock and a Hard “Spot”

Knowing where to place your message is critical. In a B2B world, the likely target of the message would be the business consumer. Radio may not be the best place for a manufacturer to advertise a piece of surgical equipment in the hopes of reaching a neurosurgeon, but if that manufacturer needs to hire 100 people to produce the equipment, then radio is the perfect recruitment vehicle for a business-to-community effort.

The announcement (please don’t refer to them as “spots”) could run between Led Zeppelin and Bon Jovi; Brad Paisley and Blake Shelton; Beyoncé and Usher; or in a news adjacency with equal reach. Recruitment messages are ideal for most radio formats and give the business the added bonus of exposing themselves as a community economic leader.

Conversely, if a publicly traded business wanted to reach potential investors, running a message campaign during the Snoop Dog Power Hour may need reconsideration. Talk radio offers a plethora of popular programming geared for more targeted and like-minded listeners. News, financial and other business programs are winning positions. A sponsorship or pregame position for college and pro sports broadcasts offering local advertising slots is a strategic way to reach a potential investor.

For Community Branding, Radio is Solid  

Feel good or community branding messages can fit just about any format and tap into the awareness of local citizens. Is your business a major contributor to a regional scholarship program? Involved in Habitat for Humanity or other social projects? Pride in community is a strong message and positions your business as a leader and supporter in its own neighborhood, even if the corporate office is thousands of miles away. It’s a great message during a local high school football game broadcast.

There is a window for successful B2B product and services messaging if strategically planned. For example, along the Gulf Coast, oil and gas-related companies advertise specific products and services because the operators who use them are located here in abundance. Aggressively placing those messages at the most opportune positions (news, financial programming, business programming) will maximize the potential for a rig operator to learn about your drill bit or specialized casing. Look at the concentration of product to the buyer potential in your area to see if the market is palpable.    

Finding the right outlets can be challenging. Just because you favor a particular station doesn’t necessarily make it an appropriate vehicle. A broadcast company sales representative will whip out Arbitrons and other rating reports to showcase a station’s numbers for “males age 18-34” in various day parts. They will dazzle you with numbers that are handy for retail advertising, but business radio marketing must be much more strategic. Partnering with a strategic marketing firm such as Foster Marketing will allow you to explore options for creative placement. We have no vested interest in one particular station and we are media experts who look at the broader picture for your best interests.    

In Part 2, we will examine the role of radio for business public relations and crisis management, and take a look at how to write the perfect script. Don’t touch that dial! We’ll be right back!