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Radio Advertising for Digital Marketers, a Primer

Published: April 14, 2014

Author: Molly Shotwell

As a digital marketer, you spend most of your life analyzing data, optimizing accounts, and keeping up with the ever-changing digital world. On top of that you have client relationships to manage and maintain 24/7. At 3Q Digital, we have a diverse portfolio of clients looking to grow and grow FAST!
With growth comes higher expectations and often times some oddball requests. Some of these requests are typical growth initiatives and some, well, have nothing to do with digital marketing at all. What would you say if your client asked you to handle or at least test the treacherous waters of radio advertising?
Before all of your heads explode thinking about using such an archaic type of advertising, you must step back and smell the opportunity. Radio can be an effective and efficient medium for brand awareness and overall business growth. It can be much more targeted than most would think and even help improve your SEM campaigns.
Targeted, effective, and efficient advertising you say?  I knew I would get your attention.
So what do you do if a client asks about radio ads? Well, here you go:

Ask them what their expectations are.

Most clients will use radio to try to grow their brand. Dig deeper on how they expect that growth to affect their bottom line and how they will judge success. Once you do that, relay that message to your radio contact or media planner. Make the station set expectations for the radio spots. Example: “If we run this ad for 10 weeks, how many listeners should we expect to reach, and how will that benefit our company?”

Communicate pricing.

One, you will probably want to reach out for a pricing sheet first. They often break this down by Cost per radio spot, but always ask for a CPM (cost per thousand) breakdown. This gives you a much better idea of the amount of listeners you will be able to target.
Also, remind your client that radio advertising can range anywhere between $500-$1000 week in smaller markets. It can be 10x that amount in larger markets.  Pricing is also cheaper if you test for longer periods of time. A 4-week contract is going to be more expensive, per week, compared to a 36-week contract

Ask your client how they will be producing this spot.

If your client will be handling all production, this is a non-issue. But if they have no clue and need assistance, it’s good to know that some radio stations will actually assist in the development of your radio ad as long as you send them the copy. If the station does not bring it up, you just have to ask your radio rep (yes, you should have one as part of the sales process) if the station will assist in the process. You might be surprised how many stations are willing to assist in the production of your ad.

Get on the same page.

Ask your client who they want to target, what age, demographics, etc. Most of the time this will align with your SEM initiatives, but it’s something to bring up. Never assume anything!
Once you get this information, communicate this to your radio rep and see if they have similar demographics available. If your client is unsure, just ask your radio rep for demographics of their audience. Make sure it’s a good fit!

Ask for a proposal.

This is not from your client but from the radio rep. Make sure the proposal includes pricing, demographics, and expectations. Get as much information on paper as you can. This will allow you and your client to see the big picture, see the opportunity, and make a final decision on if this medium is worth it.

Finally….negotiate, negotiate, negotiate!

Again, this is not on your client. This is on you! Some people are comfortable with this; others are not. My tip is to just ask. What’s the worst thing that can happen, right?
A few things to ask:

1)    Do they have a first-time advertiser discount? Many radio stations will give you a discount if it’s the first time advertising with them.

2)    What times will your radio spot be played? This can be done earlier in the process, but it’s something you want to confirm multiple times. Don’t expect great return from a 3am ad spot when you’re trying to sell babysitter services to middle-aged parents.

3)    Does the contract include their online streaming stations as well? Sometimes, you can actually get this as a “freebie”. See if they will throw it in the package for some added value.

4)    Ask for an updated proposal. Get everything locked down to send to your client. A good proposal with solid expectations can steer you and your client in the right direction.

Ta-da! Really, this is not a very hard process. The biggest hurdle is overcoming a lack of experience or even understanding how radio ads are priced and produced.
So the next time you get an oddball request from one of your clients, such as radio advertising, don’t be scared. Embrace the opportunity!
If you have any more tips or tricks, feel free to post below!

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