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For both local businesses and national or worldwide businesses, local radio advertising can help the company hit a target market at a fairly low advertising cost. The specific benefits of local radio advertising can vary somewhat depending on the type of company doing the advertising, but since the production costs of radio ads and the fees for running those ads are fairly low, the company will be able to reach many listeners without spending a significant amount. A company is furthermore likely to reach a larger audience since a person does not have to be in a specific location to hear the ad.
A television ad, by contrast, requires a person to be in front of a television to see the ad. Local radio advertising can reach customers who are out shopping, at the office, in the car, or even at the gym. A person can do other things while listening to the radio, so the chances of a person listening to the radio alone are higher; a person listening alone is less likely to be participating in conversation or other tasks that require strict attention, so that person can think about the ad and retain the information. Since the ads are less expensive to produce and run, a company may choose to play the ads on more than one radio station, and more frequently, further increasing the amount of people who hear the ad at any given time.
A company can also invest in local radio advertising to take part in targeted marketing. A radio station is likely to know the demographics of its audience, so if a company is trying to reach a certain demographic, that company may invest in local radio advertising with one station over another because that station fills the needs of the target demographic. This means the company is spending money on marketing that is likely to hit the key audience rather than creating an ad campaign that may or may not hit the target.
A nationwide or worldwide corporation can begin to develop a local reputation through local radio advertising. Many people have allegiances to certain stations, and they identify that station with their region in many cases. Advertising locally allows a global or national corporation to identify with people on the local level, enhancing the likelihood that those people will then identify that global corporation as something more local than it actually is.
I really enjoyed my time selling radio advertising for one of my city's local religious radio stations. Our station broadcast several church services every Sunday morning, and also had a live remote broadcast from various churches on Sunday and Wednesday nights. The rest of the format was a split between modern worship music and traditional gospel quartet music. Our target demographic was older, and they were primarily small business owners or held management positions. The cost of local radio advertising was not their main concern.
Our standard practice was to allow clients to create their own radio advertisements in our studio. We did have our own on-air talent who could produce these spots, but our station manager really
believed that listeners responded better if they heard regular people promote themselves instead of voice-of-God DJs pitching the products. I think our radio advertising rates were much lower than the secular rock and country stations, simply because we really weren't in it to make a lot of money from advertising.
When I worked as a disk jockey for a local "oldies" radio station, I spent some time talking to our radio advertising salespeople. Sometimes they would ask me to create a sample commercial so they could play it for potential clients. One thing I learned was that local radio advertising had the potential to reach a much wider audience than local newspaper advertising. Only a certain percentage of the local population subscribed to the newspaper, but almost everybody had a radio in his or her car, and our station was very popular.
One salesman told me that the hardest part of his job was convincing business owners that local radio advertising rates were actually competitive. If the business owner
called a radio station first, he or she would probably get sticker shock at first.
Getting radio advertisements on the air isn't just a question of creating an ad and playing it at the breaks. It's also about paying for what we call "drops". That's the number of times a particular ad will play during the month, and at what times. More drops at more popular times, like the morning drive time or the evening commute, will cost the client a little more. It's still cheaper to produce a radio spot and get it played regularly than it is to hire a film crew to produce a television spot.
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