Your Target Audience – You Name It, Radio’s Got It!

THE POINT: Radio can be used to target any regional, gender or ages demos you seek – for lower prices than you’d think. To make it work, you must understand key aspects of the medium.

Thousands of intelligent direct marketers and advertisers make radio pay out DAILY. It is a Very Unique medium, but once you understand its uniqueness, along with the key elements of making the Creative AND Media work, the rewards can be there for you.


People listen to radio as a matter of habit. We all have 5 to 12 preset stations on our car stereo. We are loyal to the same stations and personalities at relatively the same times during our day. Our daily radio listening is predictable – perhaps we listen to the Top-40 team when we wake up, news during our car commute, music at the workplace, back to news in the car, and lighter music or sports as we unwind at night. Moreover, every station is designed to reach specific, targeted age and gender demographics. With 31 station formats to choose, you can pick a station to deliver Women 25-54 (Easy Listening), Men 18-34 (Alternative, Sports), Men 30-54 (Classic Rock), or any combination under the sun. Also, the average listener spends most of their listening time loyal to only two to three stations. By purchasing only the Top-rated couple of stations, you easily secure the majority of your target demo for an entire Metro. Not too many other mediums can deliver that!

As a result of listener loyalty to their favorite stations, hosts and DJ’s, listeners who respond to radio offers are THE MOST QUALIFIED leads and customers you will find. Think about this – the average radio ad only mentions a phone number or web site two or three times. With no visual or permanent impression of the number, the listener then repeats the number, URL or info many times to themselves as they frantically scramble for a pen and paper, the nearest phone, or their Internet-accessible computer. These customers have actually convinced themselves to react quickly, and be sold on your offer – sight unseen!

Accordingly, radio listeners are much more apt to buy higher-priced items, stay with retail or Web sites, and stay on continuity offers. Amongst the advertisers categories that are most successful of radio: anything automotive-related, financial services/debt relief, nutritional supplements, collectibles & unique gifts, laser eye/vision improvement, and hair restoration. It should also be noted that radio’s regional targeting makes it apt for time-sensitive local-targeted offers, such as memorabilia for a championship sports team, concert tickets, or special retail sales.


Here’s a checklist for marketers selling their goods and services direct via radio.:

KEEP IT SIMPLE – You’ve got :60 and no visuals – portray the listener’s problem, tell your unique benefits, and why you are the BEST alternative out there. The more overproduced an ad is, the lower sense of urgency is created. Avoid using dialogue, unnecessary sound effects, or overusing music. Stay away from “cute” storylines and amusing tales of irony. Male-read, single-person scripts still pull better than any other method. The last fifteen seconds of your ad should leave the listener with the confidence of having found their “magic bullet.”

REPEAT THE CALL-TO-ACTION – Mention the phone number, Web Site, or brand name three-to-four times in the closing 15 seconds of a spot (in addition to other mentions throughout the spot). Make sure to say this critical info address slowly or even spell it outright – the listener may not be as smart as you.

“BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE” – Direct response marketers utilize premiums, giveaways and time-sensitive discounts with their offers. You should do the same. Have the listener click on a “radio-only” Web site button to redeem a coupon. Have first time users buy $20.00 in merchandise free. Include a special value product with first order, visit or company trial. Have a simple contest for listeners of the station on which you advertise. You are demonstrating the value of NOT USING your competition.


Listeners “make appointments” with their favorite stations throughout the day. This is why radio schedules different hosts, DJ’s and programs by dayparts – Morning Drive (6A-10A), Midday (10-3P), Afternoon Drive (3P-7P), Evenings (7P-Mid.) and Overnights (12A-5A). Each program is designed to maintain a loyal following throughout the daypart. Marketers, can take advantage of this – rather than buy a full schedule, simply determine which daypart(s) best suit your target demos, and buy only those timeslots. Conversely, you can test multiple dayparts, yet only roll out widely during the dayparts which pulled sufficient results. This saves a TON of potentially wasted dollars.

One positive affect of our current economy it that is now more cost-efficient than ever to buy radio. Direct Response radio marketers buy News and NewsTalk stations because they deliver loyal audiences who pay more attention to what they are hearing, and are amongst the lowest-priced radio formats — regardless of strong ratings!

There are some great buys out there. For example, I know of three Mid-West Talk stations that are amongst the most powerful, far-reaching AM radio signals in the nation. These three stations are also the number one-rated stations in their respective markets in most adult demos. These stations have been the pulse of their communities for many years, and their broadcasters are long-time hosts with great credibility and audience loyalty. Amazingly, you can buy a drive time, host-read spots for as little $150.00 (and not more than $3-400.00 for top-rated shows) on most of these stations. Now, try to buy that time on a number-one rated, Top 20 market, TV newscast.


Lastly, remember the greatest asset that radio advertising offers – on-air personalities whom listeners have come to trust. We turn to hosts and broadcasters for information, familiarity, comfort, and escape. Some personalities have been on the air for decades, and are respected community spokespeople. We feel that we’ve gotten to know our favorite hosts and DJ’s as invited friends, and we love their unique personalities. The bottom line benefit to this – we pay much closer attention to spots read by our favorite on-air talent, and we receive the messages with much more inherent credibility. Personality-read spots will cost you a little more, but the likelihood of increased response far outweighs the extra costs. Good personalities can be had for usually no more than $100 per spot maximum, or a weekly talent fee of a couple hundred bucks. Remember though – without personality reads, we would not know such brands as Vermont Teddy Bear, Hooked On Phonics, Body Solutions Weight Loss, EarthLink, or Breathe Assure.

Radio has it all. Best of all, radio can work for you as long as you learn from the methods of people who have made it work for them. It can deliver your audience, deliver longer-term loyalty from customers, and deliver them less expensively than other media. It has built brand and business models for your competition – why should they have all the fun?

About the Author: Joe Rashbaum is the President of THE RADIO SOLUTION COMPANY, a full-service, radio direct-response agencies. Joe has consulted many first-time radio advertisers, and has guided many TV and print marketers to successful radio marketing. Joe may be reached at (805) 279-3391 or inquire below.

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