When It Comes to Radio, Think Beyond Ads and Rates

Navigating the Radio Chaos: Part 2

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Doug Zanger Doug Zanger
As I keep digging into some radio "enlightenment," I feel like it's a good chance to dispel some of the myths and perceptions that people might have about the medium. (Read Part 1.) Radio, like everything else, can be an effective tool for advertisers. Right now, there is abundant opportunity to leverage the intimate connection and value that radio delivers. A couple of thoughts:

If You Get The Talent, You Stand to Win Big
Straight-up advertising is powerful, but there are plenty of assets that you may have never considered. In my experience, on-air engagement is probably one of the most valuable pieces of radio. This goes deeper than just an "endorsement." It is about getting on-air talent to dig deeper into a brand to share it honestly with the audience.

In one case, when I was at Entercom, we had a morning show in Portland work with the Portland Mercedes-Benz dealer group. We had them drive the C-Class and talk about it on the air. We had scheduled times for them to talk about it, but we also left it very loose, giving the talent a chance to weave the brand into their show. All we really asked them to do was to say the dealer name, and talk about whatever incentive was going on at the time. The results? The dealer sold out of C-Classes and, for the first time, they beat the Seattle dealer group in sales. We started this in 2004 and the program continues, with great success, today.

In another case, also with Entercom, we created a four-market campaign for a bank. It was a combination of on-air and digital. The on-air talent worked with a financial expert in each market and we created vignettes that addressed retirement. A bank blog called out the campaign in one of their posts (giving the radio creative an A+), indicating that this was an effective way to engage the consumer using both platforms. The results? Around 16,000 legitimate leads for the client.

Sure, one could say that these were "endorsements," but they went one step further, by connecting with the listeners in a way that reflects the intimacy of radio.

Ask Your Radio Group What They Can Do for You
Over the years, I have heard agency folk lament about radio. They have said that it doesn't work as effectively as they would like. When I've dug deeper, I have found out a few things that unsuccessful attempts at radio: the creative wasn't very good, the buys weren't thought out well enough and they weren't using the full capabilities of radio.

In a lot of places, radio companies are making the effort to take a more holistic approach. Emmis, for example, took five years to incubate its digital team and it has been wildly successful. Clear Channel has a dedicated creative team that has done work for national clients that has had the intended effect and impact. CBS is going guns-a-blazin' with its digital approach. Entercom and Cox continue to develop their strategies. Everyone else in radio is following suit because they realize it just can't be "business as usual."

Sure, in some cases, it is a work in progress and it can be a market-by-market proposition. However, it starts with an agency simply asking its radio partner what they can deliver at this point. Ask them what their capabilities are. Ask them what resources they can tap into with their national network. Think, then rethink, how you have used radio in the past and how you can use it today and in the future. A good radio rep will work with you to make sure that no stone goes left unturned. But it starts with an agency asking questions deeper than just about rates.

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