"Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising." Although this was written by Mark Twain in 1889, it still resonates with Maine small business owners who have the ambition to expand.
In 1889, advertising media consisted of newspapers, handbills, and sandwich boards. Today, southern Maine businesses must choose among a score of viable options with new ones presenting themselves every day.
Since July 25, 1925, the day WCSH-AM took to the air, Maine small business owners have depended on Portland radio to advertise and market their goods and services.
Based on 5 significant digits, Portland radio is still the most reliable choice for business owners with the desire to grow.
Portland Radio By The Numbers
...that is the number of adult consumers who tuned into a Portland radio station last week. This is substantially more than watched local TV, read a local newspaper, flipped through a local magazine, or listened to Pandora or Spotify.
Remarkably, in 2018, Portland radio reaches 93% of all adult consumers. This is the same reach radio had in the year 2000. This was before smartphones, Pandora, YouTube, Facebook, iTunes, Words-With-Friends, Twitter, and HQ. (Yes, Virginia, there was a time before all those things existed.)
...that is the number of Portland radio stations a typical listener tunes into each week. A primary reason radio advertising works so well for Maine small business owners is listener loyalty. In this era of over-abundant media options, the typical radio listener, according to a recent Nielsen study, spends 87% of their time listening to just 3 radio stations.
Compare the loyalty of radio listeners with the loyalty of TV viewers. The typical household, has access to 206 TV channels and will spend measurable time with 20 of them. No loyalty here.
To determine which Portland radio station is likely to be the favorite of the best customers, the business owner must first define their best customers.
According to The Small Business Guide To Effective Radio Advertising it is extremely important to define "best customers" in terms of socio-economic characteristics and buying habits rather than by broad age or gender characteristics.
So, for instance, if you were the owner of a small business who sells energy-efficient heating systems to homeowners in York and Cumberland County, then you could use qualitative information from Nielsen to determine which 3 Portland radio stations are the favorite among listeners who plan to make that type of purchase within the next 12 months. In this case, according to Nielsen, those stations would be (in order), Rewind 100.9 [WYNZ]; WCLZ; and Coast 93.1 [WMGX].
In another example, a Certified Financial Planner in Freeport is looking to market specifically to people who are planning to retire during the next year. Nielsen's qualitative information identifies Maine Public Radio [WMEA]; WGAN; and Rewind 100.9 [WYNZ].
In both of the examples above, the three "favorite" radio stations reach at least 68% of all of the consumers who have been defined as the business owner's ideal customers. Most interestingly, in neither case are the 3 "favorites" among the stations with the most overall listeners.
...that is radio's "share of ear". For a Maine small business owner's advertising to be effective, it must find its way into the brain of prospective customers. The fastest path to success is through the ear.
Our brains can process a sound in 0.05 seconds. This is 5 times faster than it takes for our minds to process visual stimuli. We can recognize the beginning of the 5th symphony by hearing just one or two notes, but we would need to interpret millions of pixels to recognize that it is actually Beethoven sitting on the piano bench hammering those notes out.
Of all sources of audio input, Maine consumers are partial to Portland radio. Last week alone, according to Nielsen, more than 700,000 adults living in Southern Maine tuned into their favorite station. The latest data reveals this is by far more than watched TV, read newspapers, used a smartphone app or listened to Spotify and Pandora combined.
When it comes to audio media, Edison Research reveals that AM/FM radio overwhelming commands the ears of consumers. Who is #2? Not Pandora. Not Spotify. Not Sirius/XM. Not iHeart. Not Apple. Not YouTube. The distant number two are personal music collections...CDs, MP3s, and vinyl.
Because audio is the express-lane to a consumer's brain and radio is the dominate medium, it is no wonder that radio ads deliver such powerful results.
...that's the number of recent research studies conducted by Nielsen that demonstrate radio advertising's extraordinary return on investment.
Over the past few years, Nielsen, a company that tracks media consumption well as buying habits, has done 22 studies to determine what type of return a business owner could expect for every $1.00 invested in radio advertising. In every, case, radio advertising's return-on-investment, was, according to Ad Age, "Eye-popping."
The most recent ROI study, released this month by Nielsen is no exception. According to Westwood One, the company that commissioned this latest study, a radio campaign for a men's personal-care brand produced $11.96 in sales-lift for every $1.00 invested in radio advertising. Wow!
"To determine sales lift," says Pierre Bouvard of Westwood One, "Nielsen Catalina Solutions matches Portable People Meter panel data and shopper card data from NCS and Nielsen Homescan. This creates a household match of actual AM/FM radio listening and their purchase habits.
Mr. Bouvard also noted, radio advertising's overall effect on the brand's sales. "Households where men were exposed to the AM/FM radio campaign saw an 8% lift in sales for the parent brand. The growth in sales was driven by more spending per trip."
Not every radio campaign can deliver these types of results. On average, the studies Nielsen has conducted, produce a 6 time ROI. According to Ad Age magazine, these findings indicate that advertisers can expect higher returns-on investment from radio than TV, digital, or social media.
...that is the percentage of online search activity generated by advertising heard on the radio. Maine small business owners now depend on web traffic to nurture and convert prospect into customers. Many of these businesses also use their websites to transact business. Either way, radio has proven an effective way to drive consumers to these sites.
According to a new research commissioned by RAB, radio advertising created a 29% increase in online search activity for the product categories and brands that were involved in the study. The study was conducted by Sequent Partners, who worked with partnering organizations including Media Monitors and In4mation Insights.
The study involved measuring the effect 2100 local radio ads across six different product categories had on Google search data. The results were definitive. Radio drove listeners to the web for more information.
According to the RAB, the study first looked at the typical number of Google searches that typically occur for the subject product category and brands. This information creates a baseline of pre-radio expectations.
Next, search activity was measured for the times when radio advertising occurred for the subject categories and brands. The results were overlaid on the baseline.
The green bars above, indicate the days and time radio advertising aired. The green peaks highlight the incremental search that is attributable to radio advertising.
Most importantly, radio proved to be successful for every brand involved in the study.
- Automotive Brand: +7%
- E-Commerce Brand: +9%
- Wireless Communication: +18%
- Auto Aftermarket Retailer: +65%
- Insurance: +73%
- Jewelry: +370%
Why These Five Numbers Matter
These five numbers alone, 699,315...3...48...22...29, continue to support the decision of many of Maine's most successful small business owners to depend on Portland radio to help their companies grow.
Case in point. Scott Libby, owner of Royal River Heat Pumps in Freeport, credits his radio advertising campaign and its catchy jingle with doubling his sales in just one year. "When it comes to reach," says Mr. Libby, "radio is second to none."
Cathy Manchester, a real estate agent based in Gray, Maine, has had similar results utilizing radio as part of her company's marketing mix. "When we began advertising on the radio several years ago," says Ms. Manchester, "our business doubled! We went from selling 100 homes a year to approximately 200 homes each year! Radio advertising continues to provide a steady stream of well qualified customers for us!"
Jon Goodman, who is the front man of Time Pilots, a Maine based wedding band also experienced accelerated growth when he started advertising on radio. "It would be fair to say," says Mr. Goodman, "that our wedding business has tripled."
Stacy Dodge, an owner of the Bill Dodge Auto Group with Maine locations in Westbrook, Saco, and Brunswick, also lets reality not perception guide her company's media and marketing decisions. "We have been using Portland radio as a primary marketing source for about 10 years now." said Ms. Dodge. "We have seen very measurable results and are able to target our audiences more effectively."
"We are also more effectively able to market specific brands to a specific audience which is sometimes harder, and more expensive, to do with other mediums, said Ms. Dodge. "Radio is a very cost effective way to get your message out to the people you want to hear it."
More Advice For Maine Small Business Owners
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