Take Advantage of the Traffic
by Chad Rueffert

Once again this morning I sat in the left turn lane of Union Boulevard through five cycles of lights waiting to turn on to Austin Bluffs.  Is it any wonder I feel like I have a personal relationship with all the morning drive-time radio personalities?

Colorado Springs has some of the worst traffic of any small city in the country.  And as the KKMG promotional materials say:  “What a boon for radio!” 

Radio advertising has always been one of my favorite marketing tools.  Maybe it’s just the copywriter in me that loves the creative approach to sending a marketing message without the use of visual images.  Making words work magic in the minds of listeners is one of the great challenges of radio copywriting.  But from a practical and strategic point of view, radio has competitive advantages that make it a must for many marketing plans. 

• On average, over the period of a week, close to 95% of the buying public listens to the radio.  Taken as a whole, radio reaches twice the people our daily newspaper does. 

The average person spends around 18 hours a week listening to the radio – more than 2.5 hours every day!

There are more than 20 radio stations in the Colorado Springs market.  Radio does an excellent job of segmenting the market into the basic demographic categories.  If your goal is to reach teenagers, it’s a simple process to determine which radio station is the most popular.  Any radio station salesperson can take your target prospect and tell you quickly how their station ranks against the competition. 

Radio station listeners are relatively loyal.  In a market like ours, radio station listeners probably cycle through only 3 or 4 stations, and most likely have one station that gets close to 50% of their time.  That allows advertisers to focus their efforts on a limited number of stations to achieve enough repetition to make a memorable impact.

Radio production is cheap and fast.  Most radio stations will write and produce your spot for free with the purchase of a consistent advertising schedule.  Because they have the equipment and talent easily available, radio can provide immense flexibility for advertisers who want to promote sales or other time-sensitive events.  When compared to the graphic design costs for print ads or the video production costs for television, radio is very cost effective.  Because of this cost-effectiveness, you can often write and produce different radio spots for different stations and target audiences.

Sixty seconds is a long time!  When was the last time you spent sixty seconds reading a print advertisement?  In sixty seconds you can convey a lot of information to your prospective buyers.  A radio campaign might include several spots, giving you as much as 3 full minutes to talk to your customers. 

Local radio ads are as good as the national ones.  Nationally produced television spots use intense graphics, celebrity spokespeople, professional filmmakers and high-paid actors.  The visual and quality differences between national spots and local spots can make small business television look amateurish.  Though there are some limitations in custom music and celebrity spokespeople, local radio spots can sound as professional as the national ones – especially if you go outside the radio station for professional production. The mom-and-pop pizza restaurant can compete on an even footing with the Pizza Huts and Dominos. 

Radio is relatively cost effective.  Sixty-second prime time spots on the top ten radio stations average around $65 each.  Weekend spots can be bought for about $20.  Generating enough frequency to make an impact does not require a six-figure budget.

Radio stations are often willing to discuss service trades and cross-promotions, and can provide other marketing outlets like sponsorships and live broadcasts.

Radio stations offer agency commissions.  This means you can hire a professional advertising agency to handle your multi-station media buy at little or no cost to you.

Radio is an excellent supplement to print or direct mail campaigns.  I almost always recommend radio advertisers have a print presence as well.  Radio does an excellent job of introducing your prospects to your product or service.  But rarely do people pick up the phone and call from their car.  But when they are sitting at their desk and see your ad in The Business Informant, they are far more likely to take action.

The traffic problems in Colorado Springs aren’t going away.  It’s highly doubtful drivers will begin reading newspapers or watching television during their commutes, so it appears radio advertising will be an effective marketing tool for some time to come.  But like any marketing, effective radio advertising requires up-front strategic direction, a commitment to creating a consistent campaign, and a little patience to allow for enough repetition to get your point across.  Most local radio stations have excellent sales representatives who are willing to answer any of your questions and provide you with free information.  One excellent place to start is by calling Clear Channel Radio at 540-9200 and requesting a copy of their free Colorado Springs Radio Buyer’s Guide.  With the help of radio advertising, you might just get over the road rage and find yourself taking advantage of those traffic jams.