Why It Pays to Be a Radio Active Retailer

With today’s emphasis on online promotion and social media presence, retailers may be tempted to dismiss a more conventional advertising medium: radio.

But for many jewelers, radio spots offer a reliable, cost-effective way to reach core demographics. According to the Nielsen RADAR national radio network ratings, the old-school medium reaches nine out of 10 U.S. consumers every week. And people listen to radio commercials more than you might think. A 2011 joint study by Nielsen Audio, Media Monitors, and Coleman Insights discovered that radio retains 93 percent of its lead-in audience during commercial breaks.

John Potter, SVP of professional development for the Radio Advertising Bureau, says radio’s regional DNA means retailers can reach a finely targeted demographic. “Because of the targetability of radio, your message is delivered to the right kind of consumer for your business,” he says.

But while radio (be it terrestrial or satellite) reaches most ears, how can a jewelry retailer make sure his or her ads are cutting through the noise?

Potter says it’s best to focus on one concept at a time, so as not to diffuse your message. “Think of a single benefit of shopping with you and drive it home,” he advises. And if you want to promote various benefits, “create separate commercials in a series.”

And even though radio is auditory, strive to use “the theater of the mind to create an image where the listener visualizes himself or herself owning the product or service,” says Potter.

Skip the price quoting and item ­descriptions. “It’s okay in print, but it doesn’t work on radio,” Potter says. “People buy on emotion and justify with logic. Price and item isn’t very emotional.” Clichés such as “friendly service” and “drive a little and save a lot” also aren’t effective: “They are so overused that listeners mentally tune out.”

Getting a listener’s attention right away is crucial, as is creating awareness by telling the listener the benefits of doing business with you. “Don’t say, ‘We are having a sale on our best clothing,’?” says Potter. “Turn it around as a benefit by saying [something like], ‘You can afford the very best clothing because we are having a sale.’?”

Also important is relaying a certain attitude. If you want to be known as an elegant outpost, for example, the music you use in your spots should reflect that. And always point listeners to your website (if it’s a lengthy or confusing URL, consider changing it).

John Sabet, owner of Charleston Alexander Diamond Importers in Bethesda, Md., has been running radio ads for 25 years and describes his store’s yearlong campaigns as “extremely effective.” He adds, “Radio definitely improves brand recognition and draws immediate traffic into the store. It’s amazing how many people say, ‘We were driving in the car and heard your ad, and came in to the store.’?”

Sabet credits his success to “frequency, consistency, and commitment.” Also, devotion to the format. “With radio, you need to be committed. You need to come up with a six-month or annual campaign and stick to it, because it takes time to build it up.”