Radio DM for Print and Mail Veterans

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Now that you're enjoying successful print and mail campaigns, what's next? How about a medium that lets you make creative adjustments on one day's notice; target an audience by precise demographics; integrate your offer seamlessly into the creative content that the audience enjoys; and have your offer endorsed by the medium's top-drawing celebrities?


Radio can work for you. The following is a summary for print and mail veterans to understand how to make radio work for your business models:


Determining your test media. How have you tested your campaigns in the past? Do you target a local region, several regions or nationwide? How much do you know about your customers' demographics? There are 35 established radio formats designed to attract a unique audience. Arbitron rates these stations by audience size, gender and age. Plus, secondary studies show listener income and consumer spending habits (for example, if you need to know which station in Seattle reaches the most credit card users). Radio lets you pinpoint which stations, markets and times are right for you.


Here are the most common examples of radio formats to use, depending on your target:


· Adults 25-54: news, news talk.


· Men 25-54: sports, FM talk (i.e., Howard Stern), modern rock.


· Women 25-54: adult contemporary/mix music, country, Christian music.


· Men 35+: classic rock, conservative news talk, Christian talk.


· Women 35+: oldies, classic country, Christian talk.


· Adults 45+: big band/middle of the road music, news talk.


If you are transitioning from national print and mail campaigns, many syndicated network shows deliver CPMs as little as $1. The loyalty of their audiences is staggering: Rush Limbaugh's weekly audience (ideal for conservative adults, male skew 35+) is larger than most weekly network primetime TV shows (for about 10 percent of the cost). Dr. Laura's weeklong ratings exceed virtually all cable shows geared toward women 35+.


Other strategies include:


· Buying the entire spectrum of a radio station can waste a lot of money fast. Most people listen to programs by dayparts: morning drive (6-10 a.m.), middays (10 a.m.-3 p.m.), afternoon drive (3-7 p.m.). You can achieve more by blitzing at least three spots per day in the daypart you think works best. How do you choose the right daypart? What's your target's mentality? Newspaper readers read in the morning (morning drive); work-based Internet users respond to spots during middays; people read mail and magazines when they get home - after they have driven home (afternoon drive).


· People are mostly committed to two or three of their 12 preset car radio buttons. Increase your success by buying the top three rated stations in your proven market for your target demo. Buy spots during the same dayparts to ensure that even if your listeners flip the dial, they are forced to hear your message.


Determining your creative. A typical 60-second radio spot includes 150 to 170 words. Transitioning your proven copy points to radio should be easy. Use the first 10 to 15 seconds of the spot to set up the listener's problem or need and the next 30 or so to define all the proven reasons why your product or service is the best solution. Then leave 15 seconds for your call to action. Have one announcer voice your ad. The more basic your spot, the higher your response.


Does your print or mail ad feature a company spokesperson or expert as the key selling point? Have that person read your copy for the spot. Has your ad succeeded because of customer testimonials? Record two or three testimonials, edit their best sound bites and use them to illustrate product benefits in the middle of the spot. Ensure you mention "credit cards" near the end of the copy.


Repeat the phone number three times. Vanity numbers work best, but never use extensions or passwords. And never mention price on the radio. Soft leads are proven to generate qualified, closable calls.


A final word on live reads and endorsements from on-air personalities: This is the medium's most powerful marketing tool. Historically, personality reads may cost twice as much, but your results can improve at least threefold. When a beloved on-air talent reads your spot, two positives occur: Listeners are more likely to pay attention (it is being read by the person for whom they tuned in, and the talent often works their own shtick into your copy); and the callers, trusting their favorite personality, are more motivated to buy your product. No other medium gives you this option.


However, there's a down side. Live reads are being done less these days. The government is listening closer to what's being said on air, and radio personalities are being more cautious for fear of getting caught in a scandal over an endorsement.


Preparing your call center for radio callers. The best thing about radio? It generates the most qualified calls of any medium. People are calling from a program they tune into daily. Listeners trust their content, particularly from news, talk and Christian stations. And if that listener just dialed a number he heard only two or three times - without a visual impression - then he is interested.


Upsell conversions are the most rewarding part of radio. At least one in three radio sales can be upsold. I've seen simple $19.95 offers turn into $200 sales with the right inbound scripting and teasing on-air copy.


Radio stations work for years to establish trust with listeners. Buying into this trust is a natural transition from print and mail campaigns and can yield close and upsell ratios that will make radio the next essential part of your marketing plans.


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