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How to Sell Radio Advertisements

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A photo of a motorist with his finger on his car radio

Radio advertising can be both the simplist and most effective way to use media to build a business, if you sell it correctly.

Photo © Mark Horn / Getty Images
Radio advertisements can be produced cheaply and put on the air quickly. Those are just two advantages anyone working in radio sales must tout when selling radio advertisements over other forms of media. Know how to sell your station while addressing the drawbacks of radio ads.

Radio Advertisements Can Be Produced Cheaply

Low cost is what will get you in the door to sell radio advertisements to a potential client. In many cases, all you need is a solid radio personality as an announcer, possibly some background music and maybe a few sound effects.

At many stations, the radio salesperson writes the script. Unlike other forms of media, simple radio advertisements are usually produced for free if the client buys a certain amount of spots. Radio easily accepts the six types of media advertising.

Cheap, or free production costs can be the carrot to seal the deal with a client. Some business owners don't have the time or creativity to come up with their own radio advertisements -- or worse, they want to produce a spot themselves that you know will not build their brand or their sales. That's where you, the radio advertising expert, should offer your expertise to do the work for them.

While they can spend extra money getting a well-known voice to make their on-air pitch, remind them that won't automatically boost their sales results, especially if people don't see the person's face to recognize the high-priced vocal talent.

Radio Advertisements Can Be Put on the Air Quickly

Television or newspaper advertisements can take weeks, if not months of production before the target audience ever sees them. Radio advertisements can be written, produced and aired all in the same day if a station has open advertising slots on its program log. Those availibilities, or "avails" are hard to get in the December Christmas shopping season, but easier during other times of the year.

Speed is what will sell clients on radio advertising. If it's late August and a clothing store has just decided to launch a Labor Day sale on its fall fashions, it can still mount a successful radio advertising campaign. Lucky for you, it's often too late for the store to get a TV commercial on the air.

Radio Advertisements Hit a Target Audience

Many potential clients may be confused by the term "target audience", because they want to sell their products to everyone. That's why they often waste money on ineffective newspaper or TV advertising that doesn't reach their potential customers.

Radio formats make targeting an audience easy. Most business owners instinctively know if the people they want to reach listen to hip-hop, country or sports radio. If a car dealer wants to move pickup trucks off the lot and you sell radio advertising for a country music station, you likely won't have to spend time convincing the dealership that your station is the right place to advertise. While it sounds stereotypical, matching the client to a target audience is criticial in getting results.

If you work for a cluster of radio stations, you have the ability to work a deal on the pickup trucks for the country station and turn around and sell ads for a sports bar on your sports radio station. You may work in broadcasting, but a broad advertising strategy is often not as cost effective as a smaller, targeted campaign. Radio is ideal for that.

Radio Advertising Offers Low CPMs

Another radio advertising advantage is a low CPM rate. You probably already know that CPM stands for "cost per thousand" (M is the roman numeral for thousand). Now sell this standard term to your potential client.

A business owner should know that the world's most slick, creative and convincing advertisement is not going to boost sales if it only runs one time. That is, with the possible exception of appearing in the Super Bowl. An ad has to be repeated over and over in order for the sales message to stick in the audience's brain.

Radio advertising provides that opportunity. Because of the low cost of getting on the air, money can be spent on increasing the frequency of the advertising spots. By the time a listener hears the same ad five times on the way to work and another five times on the way home, she will know the car dealership is offering once-in-a-lifetime deals on the most rugged pickup trucks that money can buy.

Radio Advertising Keeps Sales Messages Simple

A key reason that some forms of advertising don't work is that the sales message becomes muddled. A newspaper ad may be overlooked because it's lost on a page that most readers flip past, while a TV ad often has too much going on -- music, pictures, editing -- that the viewer is left with nothing at the end of 30 seconds.

Radio advertising demonstrates that a simple message is usually the most effective. A restaurant offering 99-cent tacos on Tuesdays can use the :10, :15 or :30 ad to say nothing else but, "Come get great-tasting tacos for 99 cents every Tuesday. Here's where to go." True, the listeners can't see the tacos, but that's where effective advertising copywriting will use words to create the mental image of the world's best, authentic, hot, spicy, crispy, fresh tacos. Feeling hungry?

Radio advertising offers a wealth of advantages over other forms of media, especially when trying to sell to a first-time client. Remind yourself that when a company is choosing how to advertise, being on radio may be the only decision a business has to make to increase its profits.

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