Radio Doesn’t Work….Unless You Ask

In the world of radio advertising, things never change. The medium has been around for almost 100 years and regardless of the rumors, it is not going anywhere. For whatever the reasons, radio still doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

The advertising agency business is filled with great radio success stories. Here’s one that shows radio going from hack to hero with help from an integrated campaign.

Recently, we had a local law firm client that specialized in estate planning. Not a huge advertiser, but a consistent one with a solid branding message. Most of the budget was invested in radio.

One day during a planning session with the client, the question of effectiveness came up. We were talking strategy, and then the conversation shifted and went something like this:

“We’re not getting any results from radio. We are getting lots of calls and booking quite a few appointments, but no one has heard our commercials. When we ask people where they heard about us or why they called, they all say the Yellow Pages. Nobody has mentioned radio”.

After the meeting, we took a look at the local Yellow Pages to see what they were talking about. Here’s what we found:

  • There were 67 pages of attorneys
  • The name of the law firm began with the letter “M”, putting them over 30 pages deep into the section
  • Their ad was a little 1/8 page with no color, no offer, on the inside of the page with just a name, address, and phone number
  • There was no reason for anyone to dig 30 pages deep to respond to this tiny ad without some type of prompt, outside influence, or traffic-driving mechanism

We called the client back, expressed our concerns, and agreed to review the message and radio campaign. In the meantime, we asked him to help us out with a research project. He agreed that over the course of the next week, when people called and mentioned the Yellow Pages, they would ask the caller if they ever heard the radio commercial.

A few days later, the client called all excited, saying he felt like a celebrity. They had asked every “Yellow Pages” caller the question, and every single caller, a full 100%, said they had heard the radio commercial.

“Oh yeah, we hear it all the time” was a frequent response.

“We’ve even seen you on TV” was another interesting response. The client had not done TV, but the lasting image created by the radio announcement had customers thinking they had seen one.

Instead of cancelling radio or shifting budget into another medium, they increased the budget, giving radio all the credit rather than none.

No one medium deserves all the credit, but if the budget will allow, the integrated plan will always be the most successful.