Using radio as an advertising medium

Rick Hopkins of the Forum of Private Business has sounded a note of caution to small businesses on using radio as an advertising medium.

He advises small firms to “ask [themselves] a lot of hard questions”, before using the medium to advertise through.

A small business must target its audience as effectively as possible, Hopkins says, adding that it depends on a firm’s line of business whether using radio to advertise is worthwhile.

Choosing the type of radio station to advertise on, is also important, he adds, to ensure reaching the correct target market.

Hopkins advises small businesses further, to ensure that the cost is worthwhile. Big companies, he says, can afford to waste money, if a campaign does not work out, but small businesses cannot.

The cautionary note comes at a time when the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB – now called the Radiocentre) has just launched a third wave of its campaign pointing out the benefits of using commercial radio. These adverts will be broadcast across both national and local radio stations.

Advertising on radio can prove effective, particularly during an economic downturn, according to the RAB. A study commissioned by the bureau found that the medium was four times more cost-effective than using TV.

Related: Is radio advertising for you?

Douglas McArthur, chief executive of the RAB, said that when budgets are under pressure, some advertisers are forced to reassess the mix of media they use to market their products. “When they reassess radio they will find a very cost-effective medium.”

Mark Barber, a director at the RAB, explained that small locally based businesses may find their regional radio stations effective to advertise on, as they can reach their specific target audience reasonably cheaply.

More generally, he continued, radio allows small firms to target audiences at the times of day that will have the maximum impact for the business, thus making the advertising more efficient.

According to RAB figures audiences can also be reached three or four times a week, as opposed to just once a week with an average press campaign. Barber also added that “It doesn’t have to be expensive” to make a radio commercial.

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