How to advertise your business on the radio

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Radio advertising can be just as viable as online advertising. Knowing your business well and a few tips and tricks can help your small business get the most out of radio advertising.

Many small business owners view radio as a viable commercial advertising option due to a perceived consensus that no one listens to radio anymore. But that’s just not true. Sure, most people of a certain age group rely on their music streaming service of choice, but there are plenty of others who still like to turn on their favorite local radio station.

If you run a small business, these people are most likely your target audience, or at the very least a large subset of your target audience.

What to consider before advertising your business on the radio

You shouldn’t just advertise on the radio because it’s there. You should if it really benefits your business. Consider the factors below before deciding if radio advertising is right for your small business.

1. Target audience

You should already know your target audience before you set up your business, but if you need a refresher, be sure to do so before signing a radio advertising contract.

You will need to choose a time slot for your ad, and each time slot comes with its own audience. You’ll want to make sure your audience aligns with listeners in that niche. The radio will have all the data you need to know about its listeners in its media kit.

Example of a local radio station's media kit page explaining the listener characteristics of their two radio stations.

This diagram lets you know who listens to the radio station you want to advertise on so you can determine how it fits in with your business’s target audience. Image source: author

2. Marketing budgets

Your marketing vs. advertising deliberation is determined by the customer needs you have discovered (marketing) and the actions you take to meet those needs (advertising). Therefore, your marketing budget should dictate the type of advertisements you will use, including radio. Local radio advertising costs are known to be affordable (otherwise small businesses wouldn’t be able to use them), so you should have options.

3. Type of advertisement

This is detailed below, but there are three main types of radio advertising. You will have the choice between sponsorship, commercial advertising or live reading. They all serve different purposes and will benefit you in different ways.

You can choose one, two or all three depending on your budget and needs. You’ll work with a sales representative at the radio station, and they can guide you to the types that will work best for you, your business, and your budget.

The 3 Types of Radio Ads You Can Buy

Depending on your business, you can choose from one of the three options below, or a combination of the three. Radio stations always offer deals on advertising slots, especially during the holidays. Their radio station offerings can also be coupled with digital advertising options on their website.

1. Sponsorship

Have you ever listened to a radio show about a local sporting event like high school football or basketball? If so, you’ve probably noticed that these shows have sponsors. These sponsors are always small businesses that want to publicize their business not only to the live game audience, but also to those listening on the radio.

This type of advertising is ideal because you are reaching many different types of people at once, and your package will most likely include a certain number of signings per game, for each regular season game.

2. Commercial announcement

When a radio station airs ads between songs, take note: that’s where your ad will air. This is a pre-recorded advertisement played a certain number of times at certain times of the day or night. These specifics are all determined by the package you choose or the terms you set up with your sales representative.

3. Live Reading

This type of announcement is where the radio DJ takes a different script and reads it aloud between music selections or as part of the “radio talk” segment. The same instructions apply: it will be read a certain number of times during a time slot depending on your agreement.

How much can a radio ad cost?

Many factors go into the cost of a radio ad. Although people may not realize there are costs, radio commercials are certainly not free advertising. The most crucial factors are the length of the ad (usually 30 or 60 seconds), number of plays, time slot and location.

The cost of radio advertising can be between $200 and $5,000 per week. That seems like a big range, but the lower end will be the cost of local radio advertising, while the upper end is for larger markets.

Regardless of the market, radios have their prime time slots, which will drive up the cost, and lesser listened time slots, which will result in lower costs for you. Just because a slot is considered “prime time” by the radio station doesn’t mean it’s the ideal listening time for your target audience, so keep that in mind. mind when you choose.

How to promote your business on the radio

Radio advertising is one of the easiest ways to market your small business for many reasons. First, it’s sort of a one-and-done, meaning you can have a script or recording of your ad, and it runs as many times as your contract allows. Below is a step-by-step process for getting your small business advertised on the radio.

Step 1: Make contact

This is probably not something you will need to worry about, as radio stations have sales reps who go from company to company. They’ll bring their packing materials, media kit, and business card, and if you allow them, they’ll sit down with you and discuss all of your options. If for some reason no one has contacted your store, you can request advertising information from the radio station’s website.

Step 2: Choose your ad type

Next, you will determine the type of advertising that best suits your business. Your sales representative at the radio station should review the options with you. As stated above, your options will be a combination of sponsorship, commercial ad or live reading.

Step 3: Choose your time slot

You will be presented with a list of slots to choose from, and usually you can choose more than one. Times will usually come within a two hour range. For example, you can run your ad between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. and then between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Your best option is based on how your audience matches the radio station’s listeners.

Step 4: Write a script

Once you have chosen your time slot and ad type, you can now compose your script. The type of script will vary depending on the type of announcement you are making, but the main options are a skit or a purely informational announcement.

A skit will have “characters” that verbally act out a scene that tells listeners about your business. When done right, it can be one of the most natural ways to advertise your business. For example, one speaker can represent a customer while another plays the role of a salesperson or service member, depending on your type of business.

For a live read or sponsorship, you’re more likely to be recommended an informational ad because it will be read aloud in the moment. For either type, you can write the script yourself, have those at the radio station do it, or work with them to create one.

Step 5: Record your spot or have it recorded by someone else

If you’ve written a skit or script for a pre-recorded commercial, the last step is to record it. You don’t personally have to be in the business, but most small business owners choose to make their voices heard. If you choose not to be included, any radio station employee can step in to read your script or play the various characters in your skit.

If you opted for a live playback ad, your work will be done in step four. There is no need to worry about making a recording.

Final Thoughts

While there are plenty of other listening options these days, radio isn’t as antiquated as many people think. Stations find ways to stay in the know and, as always, are a great way to advertise your small business.

The effectiveness of your radio advertising will depend on many factors, but know your audience, know your budget, and know what type of advertising will work best for your business, and you have a recipe for radio success.

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