Radio Advertising for Pay Per Call


Radio Advertising for Pay Per Call

Learn how to use Radio Advertising to generate inbound phone calls to your pay per call campaigns.

About Radio Advertising
Pros and Cons of Radio Advertising for Pay Per Call
How Radio Advertising Works
Radio Advertising ROI by Sector
Types of Radio Ads
How to Produce a Radio Ad
The Importance of Memorable Phone Numbers
Choosing Radio Markets
Types of Music vs Demographics
Best Times to Advertise on the Radio
Negotiating with Radio Stations
Reviewing Results from Radio Ads
Radio Advertising Examples


About Radio Advertising

Radio Advertising is massive. There are 11,000 radio stations in the United States alone, and they all have varying coverage and syndication options. Some of those radio stations cover entire major metropolitan areas or even multiple metropolitan areas, and some of them are hyper-targeted and local, and they syndicate all sorts of different shows and content between them all across the United States. Of course, they have radio stations in other countries as well, but for this lesson, we’re going to focus on United States radio.

Radio doesn’t just mean over the airwaves anymore. 61% of the U.S. population listens to online radio, which is a considerable percentage. Some major players in radio are digital like Spotify and Pandora, and these type of platforms are pretty brand new. Their advertising systems have not fully refined yet, and a ton of people are not advertising on them, yet so they’re fantastic outlets and have a massive potential for success when it comes to performance-based marketing.

Radio stations in America generated 15 billion dollars in 2017 revenue, and all of that is from advertising. It’s a significant market that you can tap into that most performance marketers are not even thinking about. That’s what’s exciting about radio advertising whether it’s digital or over the airwaves because if a lot of performance marketers aren’t thinking about it if you can find wins in radio, you’re going to have virtually zero competition.

When it comes to radio advertising, you have three different options. You have broadcast which is over the airwaves, regular radio like you listen to in your car — Digital which is internet, like Spotify, Pandora, SoundCloud and so on. Sattelite radio, like Sirius and XM radio that comes from a satellite and that’s even more interesting because satellite radio listeners pay for that service, so they’re very loyal to it.

Pros and Cons of Radio Advertising for Pay Per Call

Let’s take a look at some of the Pros and Cons of Radio Advertising:


– Massive Reach
– Less competition from direct response marketers
– Done right you can subconsciously program people
– The higher barrier of entry is a competitive advantage
– Not easy to find and steal advertising campaigns
– Almost unlimited opportunity


– Targeting isn’t an exact science
– Higher cost than online advertising
– The cost comes down drastically with scale – starting is expensive
– If your ad isn’t entertaining people will change the station
– Limited to audio – people have to remember how to reach you
– Requires a lot of creativity
– Immediate campaign pausing not possible

How Radio Advertising Works

Simply put, in a short ten-step process, you’re going to determine your target audience. We’re going to think about what type of campaign are we running, who the listeners are, are they male and female and what demographic group are they in, where are they geographically located, and then once we understand who our target audience is and where they live then we’re going to reach out to radio stations. We have to do that first because we don’t want to call a Pittsburgh radio station if we’re looking for retirement homes in Florida. We want to call the radio stations and the salespeople that have coverage where our clients are.

Then, we talk to the ad reps. You’re going to have to find the ad reps at the radio station, get them on the phone most likely and then get a rate card, reach information, demographic information for their listeners. They’re going to have a whole package on this, so the good thing about radio is you’re not going to ask them for this information, and then they have to go figure it out. No, no, no. They’re going to have a standard rate card and standard demographic information for you so you can make your decisions and that’s your upper bounds. You should never pay street rate, which is what they give you on the rate card. You should negotiate it. We’ll talk more about that.

Then we want to determine our spot length, and so that spot is either going to be 30 seconds, 45 or 60 seconds and it’s not necessarily better or cheaper to have a shorter spot, so we want to think about that when we’re producing our advertisements. We’re going to choose our placements, our time of day, where we want our spot to run and then we’re going to start the negotiating process with the advertising rep. We should never talk to just one radio station. We want to speak to three or five radio stations, get all their rate cards and compare their rates for different times of day, their demographics and then pin them head to head against each other when we start negotiating. If these radio networks think that you’re only talking to them, you’re not going to get a lot of movement on the negotiating, but if you’re putting them against each other, they’re going to try and win that business back and forth.

One of the things about radio is it’s declining. Ad revenue for radio is not going up; it’s dropping a little bit. Especially, airwave radio because a lot of it’s going online to the digital radio stations and so the representatives are going to be hungry, and they’re typically going to be veterans especially at some of these local radio stations. They’re going to be people who’ve worked there a long time, and they see the decline in radio revenue, and so you’re going to be able to push them if they know they’re competing against stations that they may have a rivalry with.

I will even go out and say to the ad rep, “Who are your biggest competitors for my business?”, and they’re going to groan. They’re not going to want to tell me that. I’m just going to be like, “Look, I’m going to google it and call ’em anyway so why don’t you be cool about it? Tell me who they are.”, and then they’re going to know you’re serious and if they give me those names I’m going to call ’em. If they don’t give me those names, I’m going to google them right when I’m on the phone and confirm with them who they are and then contact them. I’m just going to be fun about it. I’m going to be like, “Look. I got to comparison shop. You can’t be mad at me for comparison shopping. I want you to know that you have to give me a good deal. This isn’t my first rodeo. I know what I’m doing. I’m going to comparison shop you and so let’s figure out a way we can build long term business together, and I need some of that love up front so I can do my testing”. That’s how I’m going to handle the situation and how I have when I’ve done radio advertising.

Next, I’m going to create a radio advertisement. We’ll go into that in detail. You have a few options, but realistically it is not expensive, and it is not hard to do. You don’t need this incredible professional studio and voice actors and all this expensive stuff to create a radio advertisement. You do not. I’ve run quite a few successful radio advertisements that I’ve produced for a hundred or two hundred bucks or even used my voice. My business partner Harrison and I used to live together, and when we did, we were like, alright well how do we do radio ads one day. We got a kid, his name’s Mark, hilarious kid and he brought a microphone over, and he had a band, and so we found a guy who had a band on craigslist and for literally nothing, it was like 20 dollars or nothing. I don’t even know if we paid them. We might’ve gotten them lunch. We just created 30 or 40 advertisements with a voice that ended up being successful so it is not expensive to do this on the production side and I don’t think you should spend a lot of money hiring an agency that does this to create your advertisement. You can find ways to do this relatively cheaply.

Then you’re going to give your advertisement to the station. They’re going to tell you what format and what length and all this other stuff and you provide it to them in the proper format, and then you must confirm your time slots because if you don’t confirm your time slots, they’re going to assume you don’t care. If you say, “Yeah run this radio ad,” and you let the ad rep do it they’re going to put you in less preferable spots. Because some of their other advertisers are smart enough to ask for high-quality slots and the premier slots, they can sell those for more money. Or use them as negotiating tactics and if you don’t ask about them or confirm them your ad may not run during the desired time, and so you want it to run during the desired time. Even better off to get it in your contract with them that it’s going to run in the specific times and then you want to follow up with them to make sure it actually does and then ask them for recordings of all of your ads and the actual times that they run.

Then, lastly, we review the results, and that’s simple. If it’s close to profitable, we optimize. If it’s way off, we don’t. We cut the spots that don’t work, and we keep the ones that do and scale.

Radio Advertising ROI by Sector

What I wanted to share with you here is statistics from an independent agency about how companies see their return on ad spent. For department stores that are advertising locally, they compute a 17x return on their investment. If they spend a hundred dollars, they’re bringing in $1700 in revenue. Now, a mass merchandiser, very similar to a department store, the same thing, 16x. Local businesses do well with local radio, but they can’t scale it. They’re stuck in their bucket, but the reason they get such high return is that they play their ads over and over and over and over and over and over and over until it’s ridiculously repetitive and you need that. When you run a radio advertisement if it plays once you shouldn’t expect a lot of results. What you’re looking for is to get people over and over and over again so that they remember and they use you when it’s time.

Now with Pay Per Call, someone may not be interested at that very moment, but maybe they need it a week later. Perhaps they need it two weeks later, whatever it is. Your radio ad spots are probably not going to yield their highest return on investment the first time they run, and you should be prepared for that so you really should be running a radio ad that has a multiple week flight or a multiple month flight to see what it’s going to do for you. Now if you run a spot for two weeks, you don’t get a single phone call, something is wrong. But if you run a spot for two weeks, and it’s not producing a return on investment for you, but it is generating calls give it some more time and see how it goes because this is a long term thing.

Telecommunications providers like some of the biggest radio advertisers in the country, they get a 14x return on their ad spend, and they’re mostly nationwide. They not only enjoy the scalability of radio, but they’re able to take advantage of what radio can deliver. The good news is there’s lots of telecommunications Pay Per Call campaigns, and so you can start there and know that it’s already working for these companies in some way, shape or form and improve on what they’re doing.

Home improvement has a 9x return on ad spend, which is all the home services stuff. Those are two high-value sectors that are already winning nationwide in radio.

A lot of quick service and fast food restaurants get a 3x return, which is not great, but they have to fight for their business in these local areas to get people in there. They have a lot of competition, but you guys, on the other hand, don’t necessarily have any or a lot of competition, and so that’s why radio is a great opportunity.

If you’re going to do radio, you should pick a couple of target markets. Consolidate your budget in a place where you can get the repeat spots over and over and over again instead of trying to go to a mass market audience at first so that you can see what your long time ROI is before you scale. Because your radio ad may not work if you play it twice in a week, but if you play it every single day for three months you might train the market to call you, and that’s when you might start getting your massive return on investment like some of these return on ad spend numbers.

Types of Radio Ads

There are three different types of radio ads, essentially. There’s pre-recorded which means that you’re going to pre-record a radio spot and you either have to produce that, or sometimes radio stations that are desperate for advertising will make a simple ad for free, and you can ask your rep, but I don’t recommend you do that. I recommend you get good at creating your advertising spots so that you have control over it because they may make you the first ad for free and if it sucks and doesn’t produce you don’t win.

They know that too, but this is for you to figure out and to design your ad for your audience. I don’t recommend that you do that even if it means you fail a couple of times or you have to learn how to make your ad. I still don’t recommend that you do that because if you’re a good marketer and you can learn how to make great ads that are going to help you everywhere. Not just in radio and so you need to learn how to do it. As I said, it’s not expensive, and it’s a lot of fun actually to make advertisements. I love making the ads. I think it’s hilarious and a good time.

Next is the deejay. If you don’t want to produce your advertisement, the deejay will read your ad for you and throw a couple of sound effects in there. You can do it, but what happens with this is one of two things. They may record the first one the deejay does. That may or may not be good for you, or they may have every single deejay impromptu do the advertisement every single time, which means you may not have consistency in the ad. Which means that sometimes it may work, sometimes it may not, one deejay may be worse than the other or better than the other, and you’re going to run into that issue.

What you can do is you can have a deejay do it, ask for a recording of all the spots that the deejay did it in and then review them. Maybe one deejay’s good; one isn’t. You figure it out, and if one’s outstanding you can take the recording of that deejay and ask them to play that recording instead of having them do it impromptu, and he could even play that recording during other deejay’s shows so that the high-quality recording is still there.

Then last we have public service announcements. These are a little bit trickier. You have to craft your message in a way that it offers something to the public that’s beneficial. If you can do that the ad spot for a PSA is usually way cheaper and it incentivizes the audience that the announcement is coming from an authoritative body which will get you results in different ways, but you have to be creative about it. You can win with any one of these three you need to figure out what’s going to be best for you and you’re going to want to talk about your ad rep for it. I highly recommend that you try and do all three. If you’re going to invest in radio, you got to play with it. I would start with pre-recorded. I would try and figure out if I could convert that into some public service announcement for some things it’s probably not possible but for others, for significant segments of the Pay Per Call space, I think you can create a public service announcement and then make it work, and that may be really beneficial for you.

There’s a bunch of different spot lengths. You got a 15 second, 30 seconds, some of them do 45 even, and then 60-second spots. Shorter is typically less expensive, but not generally proportional. What radio stations have learned is that it’s not the length of their advertisements that gets people to change the station it’s the number of ads so regardless of whether you pick 30 seconds of 60 seconds the radio station is still probably only going to play three or four ad spots in each commercial segment. Let me cover that again just in case it didn’t come through perfectly the first time.

Radio stations have segments of ads. Typically those segments are going to be three ad spots, maybe four ad spots. It all depends on the radio station and what that means is regardless of whether you choose 15 seconds or 60 seconds. You’re going in an ad spot or an ad segment at the radio station that has a limited number of spots in it and so they may discount a 30-second spot, but it probably isn’t going to be half the price of a 60-second spot. It may be 10% or 15% cheaper but not half.

How to Produce a Radio Ad

First and foremost, you have to choose your spot length. You’re going to have to do that upfront before you make your radio spot. Longer spots are proven to work better because people can repeat their message more and have more engagement with the user and so by repeating your message more or having more time to tell a story you’re going to see a higher return on investment. Also, you’re going to need to repeat your number over and over again so that they can remember it.

Next, we need to write our script, and we need to focus our message on a single idea and then repeat that idea and phone number so that people can remember it. Now typically, they’re not going to remember a phone number if you just read it. Especially if it’s a complicated phone number, not a vanity number, not a pattern and so the number one way to get people to remember your phone number is to sing it.

You’ve got to put it in a song, and that is going to make the difference between success and failure and I have some examples for you about this, but you need to write a jingle and sing the song. Then you can reuse the jingle, portions of it in your IDR, which is an excellent way for the customer to know that they dialed the correct phone number immediately. Now, you can also do this with shortcodes and texting and whatever you want, but the key here is you have to create a song or a jingle for them to remember your phone number.

The likelihood that people are going to remember it otherwise is almost zero, and so this may seem complicated for you, but it is not complicated to write a little jingle and then find someone to sing it for you. If you want to do this yourself, you can get a blue yeti microphone like I’m using right now and then what you need is some royalty free music or find a local kid that plays the guitar or makes music, and he’ll make you a little jingle. It’s not that hard to make a jingle. There’s a ton of people who love to make music, and they’ll do it for cheap. You can find these people on craigslist, you can find them on fiber, you can buy royalty free music and then you can edit it yourself in audacity or if you find someone who’s going to play the jingle for you on their guitar, they probably edit too and so it’s not going to be that expensive.

It should only cost you maybe 50 or 100 bucks for the editing. If you’re going to use royalty-free, you’re talking $15. For your voiceover or someone to sing the song, you’re probably talking 30 to 100 bucks. If you want someone actually to write the music and record it for you and they’re a hobbyist, but they’re good again, you can probably get it for as cheap as 20 bucks all the way up to, I don’t know, $200, but either way all of this combined is just a couple hundred bucks. It’s not that big of a deal to produce the advertisement.

The Importance of Memorable Phone Numbers

If you choose a random phone number, it’s probably not going to work. Unless you sing it or you get it in a song like numbers you hear in even some pop music, you remember them forever because they’re in a song. Now vanity numbers are easy to remember and so are really strong phone numbers. I have some examples below here. You want to get a vanity number or a strong number or a rhyming number because the best way to get someone to remember it again is to sing it, so you need them to sing it. Otherwise, they’re not going to remember the song.

Now if you get a stronger number like 800-554-5000, it’s easier to remember, and you can put it in a song. Again, “Call now 800-554-5000” (singing). Make fun of me, but that’s what needs to happen for you to remember it. It needs to get in a song, it needs to have some music with it, it needs to be repeated, and it needs to be a simple phone number, so either a strong one or a vanity number to get the results you want. Now if you want really strong phone numbers like this top one. 800-554-5000. Ringba has a limited inventory of these. They’re not cheap. You’re going to have to rent it because they’re costly for us to acquire. I’m talking up to tens of thousands of dollars a phone number, but we have them, and they are available.

Vanity numbers, we also have those available, and we can also help you find them. Talk to your rep. We have some new search tools, and we can help you find vanity phone numbers. We can also help you acquire a vanity phone number somewhere else and figure that out with you, but it’s crucial if you’re going to do radio that you have a great phone number otherwise you’re in trouble and you must, must sing it to people. I would not do a radio ad with a phone number in it unless it sang. I don’t think it would have the propensity to work as one that doesn’t. If you disagree with me, I’m up to have a conversation and a debate about that, show me the results, but the most profitable radio campaigns that I’ve ever done were songs with phone numbers in them, so guys sing it.

Choosing Radio Markets

Once we have a general idea of who we’re marketing to and where they are, we need to choose our market. First, we need to do AM versus FM, and that’s going to have a lot to do with our demographics because AM is mostly talk radio or sports or something of that nature. If you’re going to listen to NPR, you’re a specific kind of person, and we need to determine whether that’s our audience or not. If it’s not, we’re going to look at FM because there’s a lot bigger audience there we can target, certain people by the traits of types of music that they listen to.

Before we do that though we need to understand where they live and we need to understand that because certain radio stations only reach certain geographic areas so do we need old, do we need young or whatever. We need to know where our customers live, and if there’s a high concentration of our potential customers in a specific market we’re going to want to focus our ad dollars on that market for a higher return on investment, and I highly recommend that you do this. You pick one highly targeted market that has all of your potential customers in it and then focus your money there with repetition versus trying out a bunch of different markets, and it’s easy enough to figure out where your customers congregate and then once you do that focus. Now maybe there are a bunch of different places where they’re at, a bunch of different cities. That’s fine. I still recommend that you focus on one and then once you figure it out then replicate it because like I said, it may take six weeks of blasting these people every single day during their commute or whatever it is with the same ad before you start seeing your ROI.

Now, you also need to understand what language they speak. In the United States, you only have two options. English or Spanish but there are a lot of Spanish speaking radio stations. They usually have cheaper ad rates and can be fantastic if your call center has bilingual capabilities, and so that’s an entirely untapped market that you need to pay attention to in Pay Per Call because people who speak only Spanish still need things like home services and insurance and have financial issues. If you want to take this to the next level, you can also look at reaching those specific audiences, and they’re super easy because you look for Spanish radio stations. Your work is already done for you.

Types of Music vs. Demographics

Then we need to understand what type of music do our target audiences listen to and then we want to go after the stations that predominantly play those types of music in our target audience. The good news is your demographics are pretty standard like most demographic groups listen to the same kinds of music and so typically what you’ll find is a higher number of radio stations that play the music that targets your demographic in areas where your demographic predominantly lives. Then we want to think about, do they commute to work or are they retired? Are they male or female and are there any income levels that we’re specifically looking for because they apply to music taste as well. The good news is the radio stations have all the demographic information, but what we have here on the screen is pretty industry standard.

Adult contemporary is women 35-44, and it’s the top 40 hits over and over and over again with no rap music. Then we have adult standard, and this is all 50 or 55 plus, and it’s like the nostalgia format which I think, Sinatra, older pop music. It’s not hard rock. It’s entirely geared towards older people. Then we have classic rock station that’s usually men between 45 and 54, and it’s old school classic rock but it is almost always men, and so if you’re advertising typically to men it’s a great place to do it, and that’s a targeted range.

Now, country music is the most popular genre of music nationwide. It has the most listeners. Now, I was surprised actually, to hear this when I put this information together but I verified it, and it’s true. Their demographics are not skewed male or female or an age range, but they’re biased towards areas of low diversity. Country music, typically white people but it is a massive market and audience, and they’re very loyal to their country music, and so it’s consolidated in the center of the United States, mostly in the south but all over as well so especially in rural areas. That doesn’t mean that it’s not an incredible place to advertise. It’s the most prominent option you have, but you need to know your audience before you go with that.

The inverse to that would be just rap stations that only play rap. It would be the opposite. It’s mostly African American listeners, but it’s not nearly or even close to the size of any of these other segments up here. Next, we have news or talk radio. That’s men mostly 45-54 and sports, sports talk radio, is the fastest growing segment of radio content. If you want to go after men that are 45-54, you’ll know that your audience is increasing if you advertise to sports radio.

Now, for religious, that’s going to be moms. Women but mostly moms 25-44 and that’s only religious music, and it’s primarily light rock and uplifting, and they’re probably not going to change the channel. That’s a unique thing about these last two — talk radio and religious. Talk radio, the ads are typically really geared towards those people, and so they’re not going to change the station. People listening to Rush Limbaugh are not changing the station. They want to listen to the ads. They don’t leave their camp very often, and so the people who listen to the news, talk radio and sports probably are not changing that station, so they’re going to listen to more of the ads all the way through. Religious channels are even less likely to change the station because they’re programmed to only listen to that content and I say programmed, and I mean it. They’re not changing the station. If you have something to sell to moms 25-44 you should be all over those religious channels because they are just going to listen over and over and over to your ad. You can get them to become loyal to your brand. With that, on the religious stations, it’s almost like getting an endorsement, from God. Let that sink in for a minute.

Next, we have soft contemporary. That’s women 35-54, and that’s going to be mostly ballads, easy listening, you could think Celine Dion. It’ll put you to sleep, but that’s what they listen to and then if you want to reach the millennial and younger demographic. Top 40 hits are men and woman, typically between 18 and 34 and that’s going to be all pop and rap music. Or poppy rap music, not Gucci Mane, but like Drake’s biggest hit.

All of this is mostly accurate, and it’s not ever going to be entirely accurate because there’s no way to talk to every single person that listens to the radio and what channels they listen to and then figure this all out. It’s mostly based on statistics, but they’re pretty accurate at this point, and I would use this a rule of thumb when doing my radio advertising. I would use this because these demographic groups are going to be pretty close. Then I would also ask every radio station I’m talking to for all the demographics of their different programming so that I can match it up and find those sweet spots.

Best Times to Advertise on the Radio

Best times to advertise on the radio
We have to think about the time we’re going to run it. Now if you do not request specific spots at specific times you’re probably not going to get them, and that is a major mistake with radio advertising and let’s talk about why. 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM you have your morning drive, and that’s in the local time zone of the radio station. The demand for that spot is high, and that’s because listeners are highly engaged and captive, and they also have a 99% plus phone penetration, so anyone that is driving to work, driving their car or carpooling to work has a 99% chance that they have a phone in their pocket. For Pay Per Call that’s pretty good.

I say they’re highly engaged because it’s the morning and they’ve woken up. They don’t want to sit in silence in their car; they’re listening to the radio. They’re on their way. Another reason why this is in extremely high demand is that if they’re commuting on Monday, they’re probably commuting on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. People are creatures of habit and even more so when it comes to their morning commute because they have to be at work every day on time and most people work Monday through Friday, and they have to be there at a specific time. If you run your spot during the morning drive time at the same time, at the same spot Monday through Friday what you’re going to do is guarantee repetition with the same audience so you can drill your message into their head. That’s why the demand is high because smart marketers know this and they’re going to do it.

I want you to understand that each radio station may have a different consideration for when this is. Maybe it’s 6:30 to 10:30 or 5:30 to 9:30, whatever but typically they’re going to have some semblance of these slots and they have a limited amount of advertising spots that they allow during these time slots, and so there’s going to be competition for them, and that’s why you want contractual placements.

Next one’s from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM. This is the midday slot. The demand on this is medium, and depending on your target demographic, this time slot may be ideal. Older age groups leave the radio on at work as background noise. They’re going to be a lot less likely to pick up the phone and call. Because they’re at work but when it’s background noise if you can create a cool jingle that’s repeated over and over and over and over and over again, it’s a home services product or an insurance product or whatever it is. You are going to subconsciously get in these people’s heads because they’re just going to listen to it over and over and over again. The midday spot is going to be less expensive than the morning drive or afternoon drive because there’s less demand for it so you can get more repetition in there. You’re going to have to test it but same people every day leave the radio on at work, and they leave it on all day.

Then we have the 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM. This is considered the afternoon drive, second rush hour of the day. Demand is high for the same reasons that the morning one is high. Food, entertainment, and ads related to home or home services are going to be most effective as people are likely to be interested in this at this time. They’re going to be hungry, they’re going home, they want to be entertained and if they got to home maybe their wives going to be nagging them about fixing something in the yard or whatever it is. They’re going to be thinking about these types of things so if you listen you’ll notice that Home Depot and other home advertisers buy a lot of these spots during the afternoon drive because people are headed to their home, they’re thinking about their home, you can give them a message about their home. Again, there’s a 99% plus phone penetration for this; however, they’re more likely to pick up the phone and call for something they have to deal with afterward. If they got a plumbing issue maybe they’ll pick up the phone and call a plumber on their way home from work so that they can have that guy come over. They’re thinking that way, and so you should think that way too.

We have 7:00 PM to 12:00 AM. This is the evening, or they’ll call it some other things slot. It has a low demand. It has a much smaller audience. People do not typically listen to the radio at home. It’s going to be skewed towards older audiences, and it’s going to be lower engagement because they’re not a captive audience. They can be doing whatever they want with the radio on in the background. You don’t even know if they’re sitting there listening.

The thing about the drive slots is you know they’re listening because they’re in the car, but in the evening slot they may have the radio on at home, and maybe they went out to dinner. You don’t know, but these should be significantly less expensive for you. That is why you need to know about this because those ad reps at the radio stations, they’re going to try and figure out if you have any idea what you’re doing and if you don’t they’re going to bang you on these because they know what they’re doing. Rates on these should be less expensive, significantly less costly any way you slice it.

Then you have the overnight. 12:00 AM to 6:00 AM. There is a deficient demand for this because there’s not a lot of people listening. It’s going to have the lowest possible prices, but if you can get creative with this, get creative with the audience and the products that fit these audiences, you can do well. It’s like an overnight infomercial. Overnight infomercials crush it when they’re done well, but you run into similar issues with that on the radio. Are the call centers open during these times? What type of volume can they handle? Do people even want to buy your product this late at night? Thatis is like remnant internet advertising. You got to figure out and make your ad work for your audience.

Negotiating with Radio Stations

The first thing I’m going to do is ask for a rate card and demographic information. They’re going to have it ready, and they’re going to give it to me. The reason I ask for this is, so I know my upper boundary and then I’m going to ask them for discounts based on the volume of spots, repetition of spots, and contractual lengths over time. What if I want to run a spot every day for a week, that’s a lot more spots, do I get a discount? What if I’m willing to commit for that same advertisement every day during the same spot for three weeks, a month, six weeks, eight weeks, 24 weeks, a year? Where are the discounts? Then they’re going to give me all that and I have the upper bounds and their discount tiers for things going over time. I’m going to ask a lot of questions. I’m going to make these ad reps work. I’m not going to be concerned about their time. I’ll be respectful of it, but I’m going to ask them all sorts of questions because I want to know, and then I’m going to ask the same questions to every single radio station I’m talking to. I’m going to make them all work.

I’m going to figure out what their viewer rate or listener rate is, excuse me, and then I’m going to look apples to apples. I’m going to compare the cost per listener between every radio station for the same type of inventory, so the same audience, the same kind of radio station that has the same demographics and then I’m going to see who’s cheaper. Then I’m going to ask them, alright do the rate card rates include specific placements or are they run on station ads, unscheduled? Then I’m going to find out if I get discounts for running unscheduled during particular times or segmented times? Can I get an unscheduled but first position during the morning drive and can you play my ad four or five times? I want to know what all my options are.

When I buy radio ads my budgets are going to be a little bit bigger, so this is going to have to be tailored to you, but I’m going to want to commit to some schedule so I can get discounts. I’m going to negotiate hard on those, and then I’m going to ask them for introductory rates for my first ads so I can test and then ask them if I can apply those introductory rates to my first contract so I can test and then get the benefit of the discounts. I’m going to want to make sure I do all of my scheduling during the same time, same show, see if I can build the first position because what I’m trying to do here is build an audience.

Ask the rep where the deals are. Do you have good deals during different slots? What are you not selling that I can get creative with that you can give me an absolute killer deal on? They’ll tell you — Ask where the remnant is. They’ll let you know, and then I’ll push them on that. Well, what if I buy remnant for a bunch of spots and agree over a couple of weeks, can you get even lower? They’ll tell you and then I’m going to ask them how the market shift is? Is spring better? Winter better? Certain shows, whatever, and what I’m trying to figure out here is how to get a price on the absolute cheapest spot I could get, so I have my lower bounds. If I have my upper bound rate card and my lower bound then I know I need to negotiate somewhere in that range and I want to get as close to the lower boundary as reasonably possible because then I have a gauge to figure out if I’ve gotten the best deal.

You want to let them know that you have a big budget. I don’t care whether you have a big budget or not. If you’re like, I have a $50,000 radio budget in Q1 and got to do a lot of testing. I’m willing to allocate some of that to you, but your station’s a wild card for me. I got to convince my boss to make this happen, so give me an excellent introductory rate, give me a couple of extra spots for free. Yeah, ask for free spots. It costs them nothing. If the advertisement space isn’t sold, cost them nothing to run your ad, so ask for freebies when you get started. Then you’re going to want to build a great relationship with your ad rep so they can notify you when inventory’s unsold. The best time to buy radio inventory is when it’s unsold, and they’re not going to run an ad during that spot.

You want to call them and ask them. “You got any unsold spots this week that you can give me at a hell of a deal? I want to make some money for you and me, and I want to convince my boss that your station is the station we’re going to do business with over the long term; so work with me on this. I got a budget, but I got to prove it to this guy. He’s a bit of a pain in the butt when it comes to money; so work with me”. You want to make it collaborative with the account rep, and anytime you need to go head to head with them and get pushy, you need to blame your boss so that it doesn’t harm your relationship. I don’t care if you don’t have a boss. If I’m going to negotiate with radio stations and if I were doing this I would because I love doing it, I would not be Adam the CEO. I would be an account manager at my company that has no decision-making ability whatsoever and so no matter what I do it’s someone else’s fault, and then I can be friends with this person and try and work together.

Then over time, they don’t negotiate with you. When you spend a lot more money with these people over time you know the rules, they know the rules, there’s no games anymore. You’re, hey last minute, great, super price, great, alright got to pay a little bit more this time, fine. It’s no more crap, but at the beginning, you got to massage your way into at least better than average pricing. That’s my goal. Can I get better than average pricing? Because then, I have a competitive advantage. You do that by showing up, by knowing your stuff, by negotiating and talking to a lot of radio stations, and don’t take the first offer. Whoever shows up the most prepared and the most knowledgeable to a negotiation typically wins it, and for you, that’s going to be harder because you’re getting into radio ads. The ad rep’s going to know more than you, and so you got to do a lot of diligence up front so that you can negotiate harder. Now you get your costs down by 20, 30, 40, 50% on average. That absolutely can be the difference between a successful and a failed campaign and so when it comes to this type of advertising you need to get good at it; you need to push, you need to do your diligence because if you don’t you have a much higher failure percentage.

Reviewing Results from Radio Ads

Once your ad spot runs, you did all this work, and you’re all excited about it, you need to make sure that you used a unique number for each region or spot or placement or whatever. I know that’s going to be complicated if you’re going to do a song and so theoretically, you need to have one for each region and audience type, and then that means you’re going to have to have a song for each one. Means you’re going to need a bunch of vanity numbers, or you’re going to need the guy to produce a bunch of different songs, and that’s just what happens.

The cool thing is if you have a few of these, you can use three of them for testing and then one of them for successes. You do four songs, and you use the three for testing. You run your spots over and over and over again, and when they win, you switch to the one that has the best vanity number. You keep running that one, and then you reuse the three testing numbers, give them a little time to cycle off, look at the call volume, it should mostly disappear when you stop running the ads, and then you test again. Then you use your strongest, best vanity number. Your best strong number as you already know this market works number so as you expand you’re building a brand on your outstanding phone number, but you can still split test your campaigns.

You’re going to look at how many qualified calls you received, you’re going to calculate the ROI and if you’re running in multiple markets with your branded phone number a great way to do this is by the area code. It is not a 100 percent accurate, but if you’re running a campaign in Phoenix you’re going to see a Phoenix area code, if you’re running one in Kentucky, you’re going to see a Kentucky area code and you can kind of look at your statistics that way. You calculate your return on investment, and if it’s positive or close you call the rep back, you expand your placements, you negotiate contractual rates down, it’s just a math equation at that point. Even if it’s close to even you go back to your ad rep, and you’re like, “Hey. I lost ten percent on this campaign. I need to get my cost down 30 points. How do we do that? How do we do that with a contract? How do we get it down 40 points? Do I buy a year’s worth of advertising? What do I do?”, and if you get a year worth of advertising, you want to have a termination clause in there, and you want to have payment terms in there, so you’re paying every month or something. That way, you can get out of your contract but still, take advantage of those meager advertising rates you got from committing to a year.

Anytime you do any advertising; you should expect to fail. You should not expect anything but failure because you got to test. Advertising and marketing is nothing but perpetual failure until you find a win, and then you scale your successes. You should get comfortable with losing some money when you do this, and that’s why you need to set a budget and your first budget you should assume you’re going to lose it all. You should never do radio advertising unless you can afford to lose every dollar you invest in it. That’s a tough thing for people to get over but if you can start at a budget that you can afford to lose 100% of and expect to lose the entire thing if that happens you’re fine. If that doesn’t happen, well wait a second, you’re starting to win, but you should not bet your entire Pay Per Call career or your entire life savings on a single radio advertising campaign when you’ve done this before. You should expect to fail.

Radio Advertising Examples

Service Experts heating & Air Conditioning Radio Commercial #1
Service Experts heating & Air Conditioning Radio Commercial #2
411-PAIN Medical and Legal Referral Spot
Memphis Attorney Radio Commercial
Exciting Nissan Dealer Radio Commercial
1-800-94JENNY Jenny Craig Commercial
Trusted Choice Radio PSA “Don’t text and drive”

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