How To Apply Direct Response Radio Principles To Improve Your Retail Campaign

Radio has been the backbone of retail support and product launches practically since the days of Marconi. The reason is obvious – it is the medium that you are closest to when at the store making your purchase. And to their credit, traditional buying agencies do have their formulas for success that combine CPPs, GRPs, etc. However, when you apply key Direct Response radio buying techniques to your retail-driving or new product launch campaigns, results can not only increase, but also be more quantifiable.

First off, many traditional retail advertisers buy schedules that are heavier on reach, as opposed to frequency. They might likely buy 5 spots each in Mornings, Middays and Afternoons. They also tend to place a strong emphasis on Morning Drive, since that is where the monster audience numbers exist on many stations. While this can work for some, it goes against the traditional DR radio buying model.

Morning Drive radio can have strong impact on an advertiser’s business or response, but it is also good to stay away from for two reasons – 1) it is often a pricier daypart, and 2) when’s the last time YOU whipped out a credit card before 9AM? Morning drive is the time of day when listeners are thinking about getting the kids to school, fighting traffic, and the workday ahead. Most listeners are not likely to pull off the road to head to a retail store or respond to an offer at that time. Conversely, that is why DR people tend to buy Middays and Afternoon Drive more often (and sometimes night and weekends due to lower cost).

When buying those other dayparts – especially Afternoon drive, which is when the vast majority of listeners will be most apt to check out a retail offer – the key is to buy not reach, but Frequency. Buying 3 or 4 spots per day, which assures you’ll run at least once per hour, is the prime method of assuring your spots will be heard with enough frequency for the listener to retain your message. (As a rule, a minimum frequency of 3.5 is best to assure response from a radio listener).

Buying radio with a Direct Response mentality can also lead to another key benefit for your retail campaign – quantifiability!! You do not always need to have a toll-free phone number or website in the spot to determine results. Radio, more than any other medium, has resources for added value to your campaign that allow you to measure the impact on an audience. Most radio stations heavily promote their Websites, which often feature audio streaming and podcasting. If you negotiate an added value with their Website, you can determine click-thru’s and/or downloads that resulted from the campaign.

Most radio stations also have in-person events for their listeners in which sponsors can partake. What a great way to make sure that free samples or coupons are given away (with you knowing how many listeners actually took them), or for your products to be demonstrated in front of a captive audience. Radio programs also hold contests where your items can be given away – and you can collect a database of listener names. Finally, so many radio stations have ‘street teams” who set up a remote broadcast or just a booth where they give away cool stuff at a highly populated location. Stations will often set up these street teams at a retail partner of your choosing, and will easily have their people encourage passersby to sample a product or go into the store to check out your product line. Some stations will even incentivize listeners to go to your point-of-purchase by having them redeem a bumper sticker, t-shirt or other prize that is located next to your product. Of course, you’ll know how many people were exposed to your offer by determining how many giveaways were taken.

Radio has resources for outside-the-box marketing like no other medium. By negotiating added value, combined with a high frequency schedule at a time that listeners actually WANT to make a purchase, your retail campaign can have the same edge that direct-response advertisers enjoy.

Joe Rashbaum is president of The Radio Solution Company, a radio direct response agency and consulting firm celebrating 11 years of success. Reach him at (805) 279-3391 or inquire below.

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