blog-radio_beaming_upThese days, more and more companies continue to look for the most effective way to advertise, often debating whether a traditional television commercial would have just as much impact as a more modern, digital commercial. But while these two mediums go head to head in the marketing world, there is one other medium that is too often overlooked: Radio. Although some people might believe that radio advertising is about as effectual as standing on a sidewalk wearing a sandwich board to advertise your business, the truth is that radio offers some significant advertising advantages.

More Universal

According to American Music Concepts, radio is still listened to by over 90% of Americans, or 243 million people, each week1. And if you think that it’s just the elderly, you would be wrong. Radio is listened to by the majority of almost all generations – from Baby Boomers to Generation X-ers to Millennials1. It’s easy to see why, considering how someone can listen to the radio practically anywhere: At home, in the car, at the beach or park, etc. This virtual omnipresence gives radio a clear edge over print and even television when it comes to advertising, as it can reach more people in more locations.

Better ROI

The other advantage of radio advertising is a more successful ROI rate. According to Radio Ad Lab, radio advertisement’s ROI is about 17% higher than that of TV advertising2, and a Nielsen Catalina Solution study showed that 10 brands that used radio advertising on Clear Channel/iHeart Radio stations reported a higher ROI than Facebook or other digital media advertising3.  Brands also tend to see an average sales lift of over $6 for every dollar spent on radio ads3, which is double the ROI of even the best results of recent digital and TV advertising. And radio advertising prices have risen less than print or television advertising, making it far more cost effective.

But even with these clear benefits, it is not enough for a commercial to simply be on the radio. For a radio commercial to have maximum impact, here are some key points to remember:


When it comes to radio advertising, studies show that repetition leads to increased response rates. In order to be truly effective, a radio campaign must run for at least 18 weeks, with ads being heard between 6 and 10 times.   This makes sense – people are often distracted and doing other things when the radio is on, so it may take a few tries for them to truly hear a commercial.   To get the most out of a radio campaign, it is important to know where and when to advertise. If you know your product or service is geared towards a certain demographic try to place the majority of your campaign on stations that they would be most likely to listen to. For instance, if your product is aimed towards teenagers, have your commercial be played on stations that play pop or alternative music. Conversely, if you are offering a service that might appeal to mothers, then perhaps having your commercial on an easy listening or Top 40 station might be the way to go. Also, try to get your commercial aired during times when people are more likely to be listening AKA “Peak Times”. Morning and evening commute times are always a good bet, or even during lunchtime. The more chances people have to hear your commercial, the better.


Now that you know when and where to play your commercial, the next step is knowing what should actually be in it. Do something that sets you apart from the competition; don’t use tired clichés, like “Low prices!” or “Let our friendly staff help you today!” Such phrases have been used for decades, and are practically meaningless now. Since nearly all customers automatically expect low prices and friendly service, such gimmicks probably won’t work on them. Instead, try to appeal to senses and emotions. For example, don’t just try to sell a pizza – sell the convenience of picking up a ready-made pizza so that a parent doesn’t have to cook, and can spend more time with their family.

Also, be sure to keep the advertisement short and to the point. Radio listeners expect clear and concise information; don’t overwhelm them with a laundry list of benefits or complicated jargon, as they will most likely not be able to take it all in.   Instead, use vignettes, testimonials, and even jingles to get your point across – just remember to connect it all to the actual selling point. Finally, keep the dialogue casual, but avoid using slang or trying to sound too “hip”. Listeners, especially younger ones, can see right through such shameless attempts at pandering.


The third, and perhaps most crucial, key to successful radio advertising is memorability. A good commercial makes an impression, without always yielding immediate results. The goal is not necessarily to sell your product or service right then and there (though that’s always a good thing), but to entice people so that they recall your advertisement down the road. After all, a person might not need their roof fixed when they hear your commercial, but when the time comes that they do, you should be the first business that comes to their mind.  You can help ensure the indelibility of your commercial by using such time tested methods as a catchy jingle, which helps keep vital information like the name of the company and a phone number in the listener’s head.

Speaking of phone numbers, it is also imperative that the listener recalls HOW to reach your company.   Some people will say that the number one mistake in radio advertising is including a phone number, as listeners will not be able to remember or even write the number down.   However, this does not make a lot of sense, as people obviously need some way to contact your business. And in today’s fast-paced world, directing people to your website to find a telephone number would be considered far too much of a hassle for most listeners. The secret is not about having NO phone number, but having the RIGHT phone number.   While it is true that someone probably will not be able to remember a number like 1-800-639-7663, they would be more likely to remember a vanity number such as 1-800-NEW-ROOF.   Custom toll-free numbers are proven to be 14 times easier to recall than numeric phone numbers. By using one in your commercial, you can distinguish yourself from the competition and make it far simpler for customers to remember and contact you.

A top priority of any business is to be bringing in new customers regularly. To do this, a business must be advertising regularly, and radio remains one of the best ways to get your message to the masses.   With careful positioning, a little creativity, and ensuring you stay unforgettable with such tools as an easy to remember vanity phone number, your radio commercial can yield some amazing results.