Radio Active

The goal of advertising is to get the right message to the right person in the right environment. Radio, a medium that reaches more than 93% of adults 18 years of age and older who shopped in a jewelry store in the past four weeks (The Media Audit, 2002), can deliver your message in an environment that’s an integral part of your customer’s lifestyle. Radio listeners strongly associate with their favorite radio format or on-air show host, and advertisers can transfer those relationships to their own brands, establishing and strengthening a bond between their products and the consumer.

Format preferences reflect lifestyle trends. A significant element of successful radio advertising is matching the profile of your target customers and potential customers to listeners of specific radio programming formats. Formats target and reach consumers based on age and gender demographics and also offer a direct avenue into their lifestyles. This phenomenon is as much a result of lifestyle-specific programming as it is a radio station’s deeply rooted position in the local community.

No single radio format is better than another. You can cherry-pick the formats that suit your goals by targeting a specific customer: a young couple getting engaged; a husband purchasing a diamond anniversary band; working, single females buying personal luxury items. This kind of selective marketing transcends age and gender demographics and lets an advertiser target customers by lifestyle patterns.

Each format has variations that, when defined, allow an advertiser to pinpoint and maximize consumer touch points. For example, an Urban station might be Urban Oldies, which attracts an older audience than a regular Urban station attracts. Thus, the profile of each station’s listeners would be different. The older Urban Oldies audience may have a more classic taste in jewelry, whereas the younger Urban listener may be drawn to hipper, flashier pieces. A Country station can be Modern or Traditional Country, again defining not only the demographics of its listeners but also their lifestyle patterns and choices.

Advertising plans should reflect media usage patterns. In any 24-hour period, 63% of adults ages 25 to 54 are exposed to radio within one hour of making their largest purchase of the day (Arbitron/RAB – Media Targeting 2000). Drive times—both morning and afternoon—are prime time for radio, but listening also occurs during the day, at work and other out-of-home locations, and on weekends as well. Radio is often called the frequency medium—the more spots you run, the greater the impact of your advertising. You can build frequency without sacrificing targeted reach. If you’re running a weekend sales event, let your customers know—over and over again. Build up the frequency of the commercial load as you get closer to the weekend. (See “See Spot Run: Making the Most of Broadcast Advertising,” JCK, February 2004, p. 105.)

Developing the right commercial message. You’ll need to develop a radio commercial. If you can’t afford to hire an advertising agency, many radio stations will produce a commercial for you. Another less expensive option is to work with a production house.

Radio commercials are generally 60 seconds long and can be produced in advance or read live on the air by an air personality. Your advertising package can include sponsoring a specific feature (“The Beatles Daily Double is brought to you by Sparkling Jewelers”). Policies and rates vary from station to station.

Here are eight essential rules for developing a winning radio spot:

  1. Make the product the star.

  2. Use emotion to connect with the consumer

  3. Use brand identifiers (local personality, original music, or unique sound bite to identify with the product over a period of time.)

  4. Use clean, balanced production.

  5. Keep it simple; promote only one unique selling proposition (USP) in each spot.

  6. Use the right voice (e.g., hip young adult, sophisticated professional, Hispanic or African American, etc.).

  7. Reinforce other media you may be using (“See our ad in this Sunday’s Daily News“).

  8. Include a clear, specific call to action (“Be sure to come to Main Street Jewelers this Saturday for our one-day Diamond Event”).

No. 5 is critical. A commercial should carry only one message. If you have a special diamond sales event coming up that you want to advertise, stick with that. If you want to create awareness of your store’s ability to create custom jewelry, make that the main message. Because radio production is relatively inexpensive, you can develop two or three versions for your campaign to address different goals and to target various radio format audiences.

Use radio to evoke emotion and capture your customer’s imagination. The mental picture of seeing oneself in a gold necklace or presenting an engagement ring to one’s fiancée is much stronger than a picture of a stranger in these situations. Radio is the only medium that can generate that kind of intensely personal reaction to an advertisement.

Talk to radio reps. Learn what’s going on on-air at the stations you consider appropriate for reaching your target audience. Then, work with those stations’ account representatives to develop an advertising plan. Account executives also can help you identify and incorporate co-op dollars into your plan, which can stretch your budget for maximum impact. A variety of free information is available from the Radio Advertising Bureau at (800) 252-RADIO (7234),

Gary Fries is president and chief executive officer of the Radio Advertising Bureau.

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