Forums » The Round Table: Brainstorming & Problem-solving

Why Isn't Radio Working for Advertisers?

    • 1228 posts
    November 30, 2017 12:55 PM PST

    Rebecca White wrote, "Lately we've had several advertisers buy packages and then back away. They say their radio ads didn't work for them. I asked what did work and they said they've tried local and regional newspapers [and they didn't work]. We utilize radio, social media and web. Is it our society who is oblivious to advertising? Any thoughts on what is affecting the masses to be deaf and dumb regarding radio advertising. This has been a growing worry the last few months."

    This post was edited by Rebecca Hunt at November 30, 2017 1:01 PM PST
    • 1228 posts
    November 30, 2017 1:09 PM PST

    From Dawn Lemaitre I think it depends on their target audience. The younger generation is all about social media... also.. if the radio ads are not working for them, how long are they running their ads for? I usually suggest for the first time advertisers to run for 3 months in order to get results. We hear it a lot that radio didnt work for them in the past,, but come to find out, they never gave it a real chance. Some clients jump from one form of advertising to another and another too quickly and don't let their ads really sink in to the listeners..

    • 49 posts
    November 30, 2017 3:32 PM PST

    A lot of people are not wanting to spend ANYTHING on advertising. They use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. and then if that fails, they will go to yard signs. I don't know how many legitimate businesses are buying yard signs and puttin up on telephone poles or just out along the road. Then when that fails they will go to the local newspaper. They're not cheap and often soak small businesses for about $800 for a color ad. Then when that fails they come in and 

    complain to the paper that their ads didn't work and they say, do you have any other ideas. The paper then says, why don't you go see the radio station. I get so sick of being the last resort for people who have exhausted their funds and they come to me and say here's a couple of hundred bucks -- what can you do? 

    I want to crack them on the head and said, well if you'd have been smart, you would have come to see me to start out with and I could have connected you to may 10,000 social media followers and the 100,000 who read my website weekly and then put you in a respectable flight of spots for 2-3 months to get results. 

    I just don't know how to become the TOP OF THE LIST rather than the LAST RESORT. 

  • December 1, 2017 5:13 AM PST
    Yes. We are becoming oblivious to advertising. We're inundated with so much, everywhere, every day, that we're getting better at filtering it out. But we also know that radio works.

    If your ads aren't working, it's likely a combination of a bad schedule and bad copy. Bad copy is everywhere. And when your give that a two spot a day schedule for three days, it's guaranteed to do nothing. Or pretty close to nothing. Who is writing the ads? What kind of training do they have? Do they check of all the blah blah boxes of "friendly staff" (minimum expectation everywhere you shop), "locally owned," (influences pretty much nobody to buy) and "conveniently located at," (insert civic address here to discover the business doesn't even have a visible street number on the building). No business is conveniently located today. Amazon is conveniently located wherever the heck I already am. (In my pocket/in my hands already) No brick and mortar can beat that. Oh, and let's not get started on those two voice spots that waste the first 4 seconds (critical time in ads, where you have to grab the ear) establishing fake names for fake people who are usually station announcers acting badly. (Hi Jesse! Oh, hey Bill. How do you----already lost the listener.)

    One of my favorite responses to "radio doesn't work" and "nobody listens to the radio" had always been one my manager told me many years ago. Ask them to let you run two ads in the morning saying one of their best products (and not something cheap) will be free for the first 50 customers that morning. If there's no crowd, the ads are free. If they come back with something about they can't do that, it would cost to much, reply with, "but if nobody listens to the radio, they won't even know about it, will they?"

    Radio works, but it doesn't work the same at every station. It's not just where you say something, it's how you say it too. (And if there are any weird words in here I missed, sorry, I can only see two lines at a time +autocorrect.)
    • 16 posts
    December 1, 2017 7:00 AM PST

    First Radio works! We see it every day with different clients, but it doesn't work every time with every client.  There are key elements to a campaign that improve your ability to get success.  I'm really concerned about the word "Package".  If you are selling packages than these are not well thought out plans developed strategically based on performing a Customer Needs Analysis to find their N.O.W (Need, Opportunity, Want).  I would direct you to Paul Wayland's "5 Reason Why Advertising Fails".  If you review each campaign based on evaluating how well you did in these 5 areas... you'll learn where you need to put your focus.  Here they are and if you want more info., send me your email address and I can forward.

    1. Wrong Demographic

    2. Horrible Creative

    3. Stingy Budget

    4. Unreal Client Expectations

    5. Pre-existing Marketing Challenges.

    Keep educating yourself every day and searching for answers.


    This post was edited by Michael T. at December 1, 2017 7:02 AM PST
    • 49 posts
    December 1, 2017 7:08 AM PST

    I have a morning show that includes guests from non-profits, civic organizations, schools and law enforcement or celebrity guests who call or come into the studio. We cover the Louisville, KY market so there is no shortage of guests. We have some of the business sponsors who support the show come in as guest co-hosts. I've had a few local businesses tell me how great the show is and ask how they can be a guest. I tell them that the guests are either for sponsors or for the groups I mentioned previously. I'm not sure if other stations are faced with businesses wanting free shots on the radio and if you do these, where do you draw the line? I've always felt that if you give away the milk, they won't want the cow. But then I hate to be thought of by the community as not helping out small businesses but these are the same ones who will put money in other avenues and then come to me for a freebie. I don't think we've tried to brand ourselves as the "ones to turn to when you have exhausted every other source of advertising". 

    My father used to help people out and often gave people free plugs on air. But I realized that doesn't put money in the bank. Often one of the local papers offer to do an article on a new business if they buy advertising. I've offered to include them on the morning show if they buy a certain amount. 

  • December 1, 2017 8:39 AM PST

    Michael makes some good points.  Although I think wrong demo should be a lot lower on the list.  (Unless you're pushing Monster Jam on a classical station ... that's a definite demo issue!) 2 through 5 are right on the money.

    There are ways to sell around small budgets.  You've probably heard of the one-day blitz ('hot spot' or 'featured special' ... call it what you will).  It's a one day, high intensity buy - with a really good price point.  Instead of spreading a couple hundred bucks out with 1-2 spots a day for a week, you blitz the air with a dozen or more spots all in one day, PLUS another dozen or so live announcer mentions.  You saturate the air for that day, so people can't escape the message.  It's best used when there is actually an enticing message too.  A one day blitz for 5% off select widgets isn't going to do anything, no matter how big their budget.

    I think you're right to limit your morning guests to either a) paid sponsors and b) non-profits/schools/etc that your station supports.  Those are essentially PSAs.  One of our litmus tests for free vs. paid is if they have bought paid ads for the event/sale/etc with other media.  That's exactly because we're also a business, not a free public service. (At least the commercial stations out there!)  Another is if it's a for-profit event or for charity.  Is there an admission fee/cover?  

    Unfortunately, it's a slippery slope when you start giving freebies to ones who don't fit your pre-defined criteria. Because a) they'll come to expect EVERYTHING free in the future and b) they'll surely tell their friends about how you did stuff free.  Which, nice for word of mouth about your station - but then they tell people who need to advertise something, and they come looking for the freebie too.  So you have to be selective.   The key there is to decide in advance what your criteria are.  Put it in writing somewhere.  Stick to it like Krazy Glue, or buy a good toboggan and get ready for the long slide.

    • 16 posts
    December 1, 2017 8:51 AM PST

    Please don't look at the list as in order, that's just how Paul had them.  If I were to put in order I would say:

    Bad Creative

    Mismanaged Expectation

    Stingy budget

    Pre-existing Marketing Challenges

    Wrong Demographic

    From my experience. Similar to Radio Ad Writer, we work with a number of smaller clients.  The smaller the budget the more narrow the schedule.  Own a Day, a Daypart, a show.  But again it is still about communicating what's going to happen for the client and setting expectations.

    Free... I don't like bribing clients to buy.


    • 73 posts
    December 1, 2017 9:37 AM PST

    Radio works but perhaps not as obviously as some media. When we think of media options, consider the following: almost all other advertising venue requires all the senses to work. It's hard to watcn TV, read a newspaper or peruse a website at the same time you drive in your car, talk on the phone or complete a task at work. Radio goes there and is there amid all these activities where most every other advertising medium hasn't a chance of reaching potential customers. Because radio shares the senses in lieu of requiring them all, their customer might not actually realize why they are in your store, but they are.

    I like to point out radio is the only media choice that is considered standard equipment in that vehicle the client drives. No other media has that level of penetration. Ask if the vehicle is important to their daily lives and point out what life is like when the car is in the shop.

    I even admit my Dad managed a book store and advertised on radio. He thought radio didn't work and stopped. His sales dropped 10% almost overnight. The corporate office called about the drop. He resumed radio and sales increased back to their prior level. He knew radio worked but he said he could never pinpoint one person or one single sale that was the result of that radio ad. He knew the key to gauging results was at the cash register and customer count. Lots of businesses don't know radio is working when it is.

    I am not opposed to putting the client on the commercial. If you want to get across that radio works, put their voice on the spot and they will have friends and neighbors say they heard the client on the radio. They will have more customers ask for the client. Anyway, to cancel themselves (their voice) is a failure in their mind.

    • 17 posts
    December 1, 2017 11:39 AM PST

    I'm curious about the schedule you're airing, also the creative.  Good schedule plus good creatine equals people walking in to their business.  When the say "Radio isn't working", please clarify.


    • 11 posts
    January 5, 2018 9:20 AM PST

    I have great success with our advertisers getting results. Our client retention is excellent. I do approach radio differently than many I think. I make sure they our listeners KNOW that they have to support our advertisers in order to keep their favorite station (us) on the air. I drill that message in constantly, you'd be surprised how many people DON'T realize that's how we pay the bills. I think when you educate the listeners and be more transparent then it helps them understand better. I also "talk" about my advertisers even if that's "not part of the package" my goal is to get them results which keeps them happy, and re-newing.

    It's working fo us! - Good luck this year everyone!

    • 8 posts
    January 5, 2018 9:23 AM PST

    I think it is a combination of things. If the goal is to generate a response then some of the stuff i have been hearing on radio lately is absolutely terrible. 

    One spot said, "stop what you are doing, pull over and text "approved to 242244" (not exact number because i forgot what it really was). Get over yourself if you think people are going to pull over to text you. Unless you are giving away cash very few people will actually heed that request. 

    The other one I've heard is telling people to text #250.  This code works for the advertiser on radio at that moment. At first its seems like a good idea until you realize that other advertisers use the same code and it does absolutely zero for your brand. Besides telling people your message, every dollar an advertiser spends should go toward reinforcing their brand. If company's A, B and C all use the same call to action then what does the consumer take away from that after the spot is done.  

    People are not ignoring advertising, they just are not putting as much effort forward. If you are not making it as simple as pie for people to reach you then your advertising won't work. 

    • 73 posts
    January 5, 2018 9:50 AM PST

    Pete Garcia makes an excellent point. I contend most listeners, giving it a little thought, realize the commercial pays the station but I find most listeners think radio stations have several sources of income other than advertising. They're sort of shocked when they learn advertising is it. They usually say 'that's all?'.

    In recent years I have communicated with a good number of Low Power FMs, 100 watt non-commercial stations. I have found a powerful statement in the successful Underwriting campaign is crediting the business as supporting the station. It's a requirement. You are okay saying the sponsor buying on commercial radio, but for non-commercial stations you must offer more detail (support comes from, for example). 

    By doing so, listeners grasp that their favorite radio station is made possible in part by that business that kicks in some dollars to keep it on the air. 

    The amazing thing is it creates a bond between the business and the listener. The listener doesn't think of the business as a stranger but as a business friendly toward them and having something in common with the listener. And it makes listeners rethink their buying habits. 

    I admit public radio does a good job getting across the message of how Underwriting and listener donations make the station happen and perhaps this is why there is such clarity in how radio works among these listeners. At any rate, letting people understand the connection between advertiser and station sure seems to add greater value to the message the business conveys. It helps to produce results.