How to Make Radio Advertising Work

My husband and I use media very differently. I stream podcasts, digital radio, and audiobooks when I’m at home or in the car. My husband is a radio guy. Radio advertising in 2021 works for my husband, but it doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t work on me because I don’t listen to the radio.

picture of radio advertising listener demographic
My husband

My husband though is a radio listener. He’s also a creature of habit. He used to drive a lot for his job. So, he grew accustomed to listening to the radio. He didn’t have a smartphone until he was practically given one a few years ago, so he’s a man who prefers traditional media in general. He doesn’t “do” social media and if it weren’t for the maps and traffic app on his phone he’d trade his iPhone for a flip phone in a heartbeat. We’re both technically Millennials. However, we’re “old” millennials.

Radio Advertising Trends 2021

I like to observe my husband when he’s driving because I find people’s media habits interesting in general as a marketer. He does the same thing every time he gets in his truck. He adjusts his mirrors, turns the truck on and immediately turns the radio station to the news / talk radio station he prefers. Then he does a quick glance at his iPhone WSDOT app to check traffic and he’s off. He cruises down the road without touching the dial the entire drive. He’ll occasionally turn it down if the kids are fighting and he has to use his “dad voice” to calm the seemingly constant bickering, but when the kids stop arguing, he turns it back up and leaves the station untouched the entire remainder of the drive. It kind of drives me crazy. Why doesn’t he switch channels when the ads come on?! I’ll tell you the professional reason in a minute… because there is a real strategy to reaching demographics like him through radio advertising. He’s in the Men 25-54 demographic and Men 25-49 demo, in case that matters to you. 

Why does my husband refer to Brian at XYZ Financial like he knows the guy?!

But, before I give you the scoop on how to make radio advertising work in 2021, I have to mention that I find it so interesting that my husband Jarritt truly engages and absorbs the ads without realizing it. I can’t tell you how many times he has told me about an advertiser he heard on the radio?

We’ll be casually discussing an investment idea (we’re entrepreneurs, don’t judge!). He’ll be like, “have you heard of XYZ Financial?” (XYZ is not the real name), and I eye roll and give him the “here we go again” look while he tells me about the radio ad he heard.

But then, I stop and think that advertising on the radio is influential when he tells me these things, even in 2021. My husband can tell me all about this guy on the radio commercial (Brian, BTW, like he knows him lol, but he doesn’t!) as if he had a personal referral but he does not.

Jarritt hears the ads consistently on his go-to radio station and his perception is that this local financial guy is really smart. Brian probably is. Or at least he’s good at marketing… But we don’t know that he’s good at investing because of a referral, we assume that because my husband hears his radio ads all the time. Isn’t that interesting!?

Point being, radio advertising can still work in 2021. But why?

Here are some tips on how to buy radio advertising post Pandemic.

Plus, a few secrets about why some radio advertising is effective and some ineffective.

These are the reasons that I believe Jarritt seems to “know” Brian from the radio when other advertisers throw money at a radio station and get zero calls?

Three Ways to Make Radio Advertising Work in 2021:

picture for radio advertising agency seattle1) Advertisers on talk, news, sports, or Christian radio stations see better results than advertisers who advertise on music stations.

It’s pretty common sense. If you’re listening to music, you want to hear music, not ads. So, if you live in a big enough market to have more than one music station you enjoy, you’ll just touch the button the moment you hear the commercials begin. Suppose you’re listening to a Christian radio station. In that case, you may choose that station because of it is family friendly music and talk so similarly, you aren’t as likely to switch to a different station format at a commercial break. If you’re engaged in a program on a news/sports/talk station, then you’re waiting to get back to the program that is not available elsewhere.

2) Radio Hosts’ endorsements drive leads.

Advertisers that pay a radio personality to endorse their product are more successful than advertisers who do not. It’s worth the extra monthly talent fee to get a trusted voice/personality to endorse or mention your business. Listeners automatically tune their attention back in when they hear a familiar voice. You benefit from the voice alone.

Add an endorsement to your radio advertising package and you’ll have an even better success rate because listeners trust their favorite radio personalities. Often, the radio personalities will pepper in personal anecdotes that entertain the listener, making the tactic even more successful.

While we’ve suggested shying away from music stations for advertising, a talent endorsement can become an exception to our recommendation to avoid music stations. Advertisers can effectively use endorsements on music stations. Ideally though, an advertiser or media buyer would request the spots air at the open or close of the commercial break so that listeners either haven’t tuned out or are tuning back in at the sound of the radio personality’s voice.

Note: If a radio personality voices your radio commercial without an overt endorsement, it’s a little different and would be called “voicing” versus “endorsing.” However, this tactic still has a positive effect.

3) Secure a Radio Advertising sponsorship if you can!

Sponsoring a specific segment of a radio program can provide a great return for advertisers. These can be done successfully on any radio station, including music stations. For instance, a traffic sponsorship consistently keeps your message top of mind for listeners. Traffic reports are read live by a news anchor, and the live traffic report sponsorship (typically 10 seconds) can be read live by the same talent. So, while listeners are tuned in intensely, listening for an update on their commute, they fully hear the 10-second sponsorship message about your business or brand. We’ve seen great success with radio advertising sponsorships.

Need a custom radio advertising plan?

As always, the very best way to get more for your advertising budget is to use a professional media buyer. Media Buying is what we do every single day. We know how to get you more for your marketing dollars and candidly we’ve been told by many clients that we’re worth our weight in gold! Business Owners and Marketing Managers alike love that we do the heavy lifting! Owners see improvements in their bottom line and Managers see more kudos for doing less work. It’s win-win and we’ve got stories to share and testimonials for proof. Let us help you make this year the best year you’ve had yet!