Radio is a powerful tool––and we don’t just mean for burgeoning pop stars. Buying radio ads provide an excellent advertising medium for small businesses or even larger entities looking to expand their customer base. Just imagine how many people you can reach with one on-air ad. If your company is in a city where a large number of people travel by car, radio is a prime platform for getting your message and company name out there. We have in mind big cities such as Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, or Los Angeles. There, it will all depend on your need for music backgrounds, sound effects, and use of professional or amateur actors, such as yourself, to read your copy. This is why targeted radio ads are so important.

According to Nielsen, radio alone reaches almost 270 million American listeners each week. This number alone makes radio a promising platform for your business’s advertising, and that’s without considering new modes of streaming.

These days, traditional radio advertisements are accessed mostly in the car by morning and evening commutes. The internet has prompted most radio stations to now offer a live stream of their programming online. They reach even more local and national audiences and casting an even wider net of potential consumers for your company. Plus, if your on-air advertising piques online listeners’ interests, they’ve got instant easy access to your website. They can do this via click-through ads and other strategic ad elements such as vanity URLs. The reach of radio advertising is bigger than it ever has been before, and is prime for your taking when buying radio ads!

It is evident that radio provides a promising advertising medium for small and large businesses. But, the key to driving consumers to check out your business and services is making sure your radio campaign is effective and within your budget.

Basic guidelines for buying radio ads

The more experts you consult on the subject, the more advice you will get. Very often, this advice, like the one from Entrepreneur magazine, agrees on the following four steps in buying radio ads:

  1. Pinpoint Your Audience.

Every radio buy must begin with a clear understanding of the listeners you want to reach. All you might need here is a one-sentence detailing the profile of your target audience. The data you should include is the age, gender, where they live, and other factors, such as household income.

Based on this, consult with the sales representatives of the stations you are considering. They will be able to tell you whether the profile of your target audience matches the profile of their listeners.

As Entrepreneur points out, the radio station sales reps have access to both qualitative and quantitative information concerning their listeners. They should be able to give you customized proposals that include schedules with rating breakdowns.

  1. Know What You’re Buying.

Here, you have to bear in mind three key elements. These are the station’s reach, frequency, and cost-per-point. Reach is the number of your prospects that’ll hear your marketing message. Frequency isn’t the number of spots you run, but the average number of times your prospects will actually hear your message. Cost-per-point is the basis for evaluating cost-effectiveness. This is what it’ll cost to reach 1 percent of your target audience population. The key here is to buy enough frequency to ensure your message is heard at least several times.

More on basic guidelines

  1. Look for Special Sponsorships.

Most radio stations offer the opportunity of sponsorships. You can sponsor news, weather reports, or other types of regular programming. “As a sponsor, you’ll typically get additional mentions, such as with “billboards,” which are announcements of your sponsorship that lead into special programming. Often, sponsorship will guarantee your spots air first in the commercial breaks, or pods, so you’ll reach more listeners before they have a chance to switch stations or tune out during long breaks.”

Also, practically every radio station tries to get involved in local community events. A joint involvement with a radio station in such events, particularly those that include your target audience can reap additional benefits.

  1. Entertain the Audience.

When all the preparations are done, you need to prepare your radio spots. Certainly, those need to be punchy and effective. Radio spot production is rarely a do-it-yourself job. You’ll most likely work with a production company, an agency, or a station. They will do most of the work, but you still need to understand a few basics. This will make you part of the team and help you keep things on track.

“Great radio spots grab and hold attention, usually through humor. They may also use sounds, compelling music, or unusual voices to grab attention. Your spots must tell stories or present situations your target audience can relate to. To keep your audience listening to your spots month after month, make them part of an ongoing campaign theme. Your audience will listen for the newest versions, helping extend your message more successfully than if you were to run unrelated spots. “

Working on a small budget and the length of your ad

  • Buying radio ads with a small budget

The first step to purchasing air-time at the most cost-effective rate is to do your research. You should have plenty of turnaround time when booking your ads. You should look into negotiating a longer-term (3 to 6 months) or yearly contract to save money. Radio stations often have discounts for companies committed to longer contracts upfront. With a long-term contract in place, you could be guaranteed the agreed-upon rate beforehand and are not subject to price increases as time goes by.

You can also get creative with purchasing air space for your advertisements by offering to swap merchandise or services that the station can use as promotional giveaways in exchange for airtime or on-air mentions. Radio stations may be open to out-of-the-box arrangements like bartering for airtime; don’t be afraid to get creative when approaching stations.

  • Determining the length of your radio ad

The standard air-time commercial is usually 60 seconds in length, but stations often offer shorter commercial options for advertisers with smaller budgets. The cost for a 30 second, 15 second, or 10-second ad is much lower than the standard 1 minute of air-time. There may also be a company name-only option such as sponsoring the news segment of a radio show. In exchange, the station will mention your business on air. Different stations may offer different options, so check around and consider negotiating the length of your ad to fit within your budget. If you can get your message across in less time, shorter advertisements at a lower cost may be your best bet.

Purchasing time slots and

  • Deciding on what time slot to purchase

Primetime slots to air your traditional radio advertising would be in the morning or early evening when a big majority of folks are in their cars. This is the time when they are listening to the radio as they commute to work. For online radio, most listeners tune into their music stream mid-morning as they get settled at their desks and late afternoon as a post-lunch pick-me-up. You can choose to purchase air time for your ads during these slots, but they’ll come at a premium price. If your budget allows for it, then these peak hours are ideal for having your company message heard by as many ears as possible.

However, many small businesses may not have the budget for buying radio ads in a premium slot. Still, there are excellent alternatives that will cost less but can be just as effective, such as rotator ads. With radio ads of this kind, the cost is less because your advertisement is given a window of time in which it can run (you’re not guaranteed a specific time slot). Though perhaps smaller in chance, your ad may just be aired during commute hours without the premium price tag.

The other option for purchasing time slots with a small budget is to choose off-peak days and hours. These would be time slots with less demand––but consequently, also fewer people tuning in. Mid-day and late evenings on weekdays or air time on the weekends will be priced lower than other time slots. This is always an option if you don’t have a lot to spend, but to get the most bang for your buck, lean more toward online radio advertising for these fringe times. There’s a higher chance that more people are streaming music through their computers and devices at this hour than are in the car with the radio on.


Considering radio stations and tracking your results

  • Considering the radio stations

Before any type of negotiation takes place, research, and pinpoint your target market. You must have a clear understanding of the audience that you are trying to reach. Start by drafting up a listener profile for your business: the age, gender, whether or not you need local listeners. Maybe even the income bracket of your prospective customers. This will give you a better picture of your target audience. Provide this listener profile to the sales representatives from the radio stations you’re looking into and they can tell you if their listener demographics match your desired consumer base. Ideally, pinpoint which programs at what time of day have a larger percentage of listeners that match your criteria.

For instance, if your business specializes in paraphernalia aimed at teens, you would not want to purchase ad space with a radio show that airs mid-morning on weekdays. That is the time when teens are in school and won’t be listening.

Strategic research is vital to narrowing down the best radio station to purchase advertising space. Keep your consumer base and the demographics of the radio show and station in mind, and find the perfect match to run your advertisement.

  • Tracking the results of your radio ads

Now that you’ve done all the groundwork for buying radio ads for your company, it’s time to see your hard work at play and measure the results and reach of your advertisement. The two most effective and simple ways to track your radio ads results in terms of visibility and increased traffic to your company website are:

  • Include redirects or vanity URLs in your ad;
  • Include unique coupon codes.

The best methods to track your ad results

  1. Include redirects or vanity URLs in your ad

These are easy to remember or catchy URL addresses that play during your radio advertisement and serve as a call to action prompting listeners to check out your website. Pick a URL that listeners will easily recall and be able to type in quickly to be redirected to your site.

You can add specific coding with tracking parameters to your vanity URLs, such as the name of the radio ads that ran or the station that aired it so that you can monitor incoming traffic entering via the link. If you’d like an alternative to attaching tracking code to the URL, you can also monitor traffic levels after your ad has aired. There should be a noticeable spike of people checking out your page if the vanity URL is successful––how big of a spike will correlate to how effective your advertising was in reaching listeners and driving people to your website.

  1. Include unique coupon codes

Offering listeners a redeemable discount code that is unique to your radio ads is a simple, clear way to track purchases from customers who found their way to your website or business via your on-air advertisement.

Just remember to make the code easy to recall and listener-friendly! Don’t air a coupon code during your radio ad that is a jumble of numbers. No one will be able to remember it. Use something short and simple.

The final cost of your ad

As Business Town points out, the cost of a 15-, 30-, or 60-second radio commercial will depend upon the frequency of the ad broadcast and the time of day that the announcement runs.

Keep these basic guidelines for buying radio ads in mind when setting out to purchase air space and reap the benefits of the wide reach of both traditional and online radio for your business. “Morning and evening drive times are usually more expensive than middle-of-the-day or late-night spots because the radio audience tends to peak during commuting hours.”

Of course, there are some other costs that you have to consider. These include all the production costs. Such costs depend on your need for music backgrounds, sound effects, and use of professional or amateur actors. You can read your copy yourself, but, then, that depends on what do you want your radio to sound like in the end.

Sure, DIY is certainly the best budget option but is it the wise one? As a rule of thumb, in most cases, it might be better to leave the recording and technical parts to professionals. You can always shop around for the best quality compared to quality ratio and find an agency or online professionals that will suit your needs. These days, the online option will possibly bear a little lighter on your budget. Still, it all depends on your needs and the general guidelines we mention.

Need an affordable, professional voice over for your radio ads? Bunny Studio can help. We can even help with scriptwriting, music, and sound effects too! Contact us for more info.