“It’s Too Expensive” (Radio Advertising Misconception #3)


This is the third installment in our series on common misconceptions about radio advertising. In our first post, we discussed why asking your customer how they heard about you isn’t enough to understand the impact of your radio advertising. Then we explored how your customers are indeed spending time listening to radio. This week we’ll look at another radio advertising misconception: It’s too expensive.

If you’re interested in an introduction to how radio advertising is priced, check out our blog post on determining your budget for a radio campaign. We give you a simple formula for estimating the cost of your spot based on AQH (the average number of people listening per quarter hour) and CPM (the cost to reach 1,000 listeners).

Small business owners may believe that radio advertising isn’t an option because of the upfront cost, but this logic often fails to take the returns from radio advertising into account. The reach, trust, and powerful influence that radio provides make the initial investment well worth it. Furthermore, the price of a radio spot is subjective, and ultimately, your costs can be controlled.

3 Quick Tips to Keep Your Radio Advertising Costs Under Control

There are some steps you can take to help ensure radio is a tactic that stays affordable and drives positive marketing ROI.

1. Remember—Your Budget Comes First

Advertising is only valuable if it helps your business succeed, and if you spend without regard to your budget, you’re more likely to overspend. Develop your budget first so you can choose the best strategy (including what stations to use and how many spots to place) that sticks to your budget.

2. Let Your Audience Be Your Guide

While your budget keeps you on your path, your target audience should be what guides you forward. When you have a clear understanding of your target audience, you can make informed decisions about your radio creative, station selections and schedule, and how it fits as a piece of a greater integrated marketing strategy. Don’t use radio just because it reaches most of Americans, and don’t choose a station because it’s extremely popular. Choose the stations your audience listens to.

3. Find a Dependable Media Partner

Chicago business owners need to keep one thing in focus: their business. Finding the right media partner lets you tap the expertise of a team that knows radio inside and out. At Hubbard, we stay on top of best practices and new tools, help develop brands and build campaigns that move the need, and guide Chicago businesses to the radio stations and programs to reach their audiences effectively.

3 Variables that Impact the Price of Your Radio Spot

Here are a few of the variables that will impact what you pay for your radio commercial:

1. Production

In addition to script development, your radio ad production costs can include casting voice over talent, recording sound effects, and editing to get your spot down to the perfect time. This will require recording and editing, and the equipment and personnel to handle post-production and ensure your ad is polished and professional. Affordable options are available, so you don’t have to break the bank, but quality matters. You could have a solid creative concept and end up with a spot that flops because of campy sound effects or a script that tries to pack too much into 30 seconds. Make production decisions carefully, and let your budget guide your decisions (not the other way around).

2. Length

Radio ad spots are typically 15 seconds, 30 seconds, or 60 seconds long. As you might guess, longer spots will cost more, but you should consider your message and the necessary frequency to see results. (For instance, is this a longer brand awareness campaign, or are you looking for an immediate impact on sales?)

A 15 second spot may make coveted dayparts (e.g., when commuters are driving) accessible, or give you the freedom to run a high frequency reminder campaign for an event or promotion. A 60 second ad may be a good choice for branding, as you can spend time sharing a longer story and educating your audience at a lower frequency.

3. Placement

When and where your ad airs is critical to determining the cost of an ad spot. A less popular station or daypart may be less expensive, but it might also provide a smaller number of listeners. An extremely popular station or daypart will cost more and have more advertisers to compete with for attention, but you reach a much larger audience. This is also true of popular radio personalities, who can add the benefit of informing or influencing listener brand and purchase choices. You’ll need to balance the initial investment with your expected results, on top of having a great message.

There are many misconceptions about radio advertising. When Chicago business owners avoid radio because of what they think the cost will be, it can end up costing them more in the long run—in the form of missed opportunities for business growth.

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