Make waves with radio

Radio Frequency Dial - Radio Marketing for Service Industries

You don’t know what you don’t know. That’s how the saying goes, right? Well, the same is true for your potential customers. If we don’t know that something exists we won’t go looking for it. By extension that means that if someone doesn’t know that your business, charity or service exists they won’t go looking for it. They won’t become your next customer or service user. It’s generally accepted that new business is the lifeblood of pretty much every organisation. Without new business or service users how can you flourish or grow? Long term it would be catastrophic.

You know that you can reach new customers via marketing, advertising and PR, but how do you do that efficiently and effectively?

For organisations in the Arts and Culture, Hospitality and Charity sectors, radio advertising is an often over-looked but highly effective method for reaching a large number of people in a cost efficient way. Radio marketing has low ad avoidance, high trust, and delivers an average ROI of £7.70 for every £1 spent. In terms of effectiveness that ROI makes radio advertising second only to TV, but due to radio’s much lower entry cost it is much more accessible to many SMEs and charities for whom a TV budget would be out of the question.

But why does it work so well? What makes it more effective? More affordable? Let’s explore some of the factors at play…

Reach & Cost
Radio listening is measured by RAJAR, who release listening figures every 3 months. For the period ending March 2023 these figures show that 88% of the UK population aged 15+ listen to radio for an average of 20.4 hours every week! Those figures do not even include streaming services such as Spotify and DAX, which are often considered to fall under the ‘radio advertising’ banner.

Radio airtime is priced on a cost per thousand basis. The cost per thousand varies across different radio stations and radio groups, but it is often extremely competitive compared to other channels meaning that you can reach a huge amount of people for a low cost per thousand. The more listeners a radio station has the higher the investment required to advertise. You might be very surprised at how affordable advertising on your local radio station, although that depends on where you’re based and the radio station/s you choose.

Radio can not only help you reach local and regional audiences, it can help you reach national audiences too. The only limits are your budget and your ambition!

Brand Awareness
We are much more likely to interact with known brands. Think of the charities you donate to. You’re probably much more likely to donate to a charity you’ve heard of and with whose mission you empathise. Radio is not only excellent for building brand awareness, it’s excellent at building brand fame as well. Radio can also help you to get more out of your online presence. It increases brand browsing by an average of 52%!

As well as building your brand awareness it’s important to build brand trust. Radio is the most trusted medium and when you advertise on a radio station their listeners extend that trust to you. It is a perceived endorsement of your brand, product or service.

Getting Emotional
As humans we are often strongly influenced by emotions and the more strongly we feel about something the more likely we are to engage with it. When done correctly your radio ads can make your target market feel a certain way about your product or service. There are various tools at a radio creative’s disposal and a highly skilled one can use these to subtly influence your target audience on an emotional level; creating stronger connections and driving a better response.

Hide & Seek Advertising
Some forms of advertising require the customer to go to the advert. For an example let’s use my family. It’s Saturday. It’s sunny. We decide that we want to go out somewhere. We’re not going to hop on the computer and thoroughly research. We’re going to go to one of a small list of places that pop into our mind… the local petting farm, the seaside, picnic at the reservoir? An open air museum room interior - this attraction could use radio marketing

Perhaps the local open air museum has a special event on this weekend that our family would love, but because we haven’t heard it the museum doesn’t even make our mental list. We needed that message to come to us rather than the other way around and radio is an extremely effective way to achieve this. It’s also why radio advertising is a superb way to remind people of things they may have forgotten about. Have you forgotten how good a dippy egg with toast soldiers is? We often forget the things we like and radio can give people a gentle reminder and put you back onto that little list in people’s minds.

One of radio’s great strengths is that you can deliver your message when people are most receptive to it e.g. a restaurant chain can talk to people on the drive home after a long day at work when they really don’t feel like cooking. Reaching people when they are most receptive to your message or when it is most relevant to them is likely to make them much more responsive to it.

Opting In
When thinking about radio it’s important to remember that airtime advertising is only one of the options that radio stations have to offer. There are also sponsorships, promotions and digital opportunities.

You can sponsor a show or a feature such as the breakfast show or the weather report. Promotions include on air competitions and also cross over into online opportunities. With an on air promotion having a presenter that listeners trust talking about your event or service is incredibly powerful.

If you were to run a competition with an online element on a radio station’s website you would likely find that your opt in rate for further information or for joining an email list is higher than the online average. This is probably because once again you are tapping into the trust between radio station and listener. If data capture is important to you then this is something worth looking into.

Ad Avoidance
There’s a saying in radio that ‘you can’t close your ears’. We can look away. We can throw a flyer in the bin without reading it. But we can’t close our ears. This is a part of why radio has the joint lowest ad avoidance. Radio marketing shares that lowest spot with cinema advertising. Lower ad avoidance means more bang for your buck!

To Sum Up
In the service industries, as in all industries, if people do not know that your offering exists they will not seek you out. Radio is a proven method of proactively taking your message to them in a cost effective and compelling way.

Rachael Gladstone-Heighton, of Create Create, radio advertising specialists