For the past 92 years, Maine small business owners have depended on Portland radio to market their goods and services. For each of those years, new technologies have come along that have led to predictions of radio's doom.
This year's supposed existential threat to radio was smart speaker technology. This included Amazon's Alexa, a little device that dishes out audio content upon a voice command. Previous years brought us Pandora, YouTube, Facebook, iPads, iPods, and television. We had disco on eight tracks and cassettes in stereo (tip of the hat to Jackson Brown).
During the course of 2017, despite the allure of the new and the glittery, Maine small business owners learned 5 things that reconfirmed radio's robust value as an advertising medium.
1. Radio Still Reaches Just About Everyone
The research company Nielsen recently released its Total Audience Report for the second quarter of 2017. This report compares consumer consumption off all viable media. The findings: 97% of consumers are reached by radio each month, far more than any other medium.
2. Radio Advertising Drives Significant Web Traffic To Business 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%
This research complements the 21 recent studies conducted by Nielsen that demonstrate radio advertising's ability to deliver "eye-popping" returns-on-investment for business owners. It is this type of information that made Doug Schoen all gaga in a Forbes Magazine article.
"The implications of results like these," said Mr. Schoen, "are profound for the communications and advertising industries and as a marketing professional with over 35 years of experience, I found this data nothing short of fascinating. It’s quite clear that we should all be paying more attention to radio, its reach and potential to help our businesses. It’s doing the job with expert efficiency."
3. Portland Radio Delivers For Maine's B2B Advertisers
There are 144,002 Maine small businesses. Ninety-nine percent of all businesses in Maine are small businesses.
More than 60% of these small businesses generate part or all of their income from selling directly to other businesses. This includes goods and services like insurance, cleaning, printing, office supplies, furniture, HVAC, legal, advertising, internet technology, landscaping, light bulbs, extermination, and break-room supplies.
In southern Maine alone, it is estimated that B2B (business-to-business) spending will reach $427,500,000 in 2017. To successfully compete for an unfair share of this enormous pie, many B2B companies are turning to Portland radio to market their wares.
Every week, 93.7% of small business owners in Southern Maine tune-into their favorite Portland radio station. No other medium comes close.
Local TV stations, for example, reach 75.7% of small business owners each week. While only 43.4% read a newspaper.
Doug Martin, President of W.H. Demmons in Westbrook, Maine, uses radio successfully to market his small business to other business owners.
W.H. Demmons is a design-build-maintain engineering firm that focuses on reducing a business's energy costs. The company, founded in 1914, comprises 3 distinct divisions: air-conditioning; roofing; and geothermal.
According to Mr. Martin, "Not only has radio generated business, it also gives brand recognition to W.H. Demmons". This is apparent when he meets prospective clients for the first time.
"When I introduce myself," says Mr. Martin, "a lot of times, someone in that meeting who did not know me before has heard me on the radio. That almost gives instant credibility. It's like generating a warm referral." He claims, "Radio really works. It's not just generating business over the phone, it's actually improving our recognition in the community."
"When we run radio ads," continues Mr. Martin, "it's almost like adding another salesperson. I have a small sales staff to begin with, but using radio puts another salesperson in the field for me. Not only is it generating leads, we are also getting people to call us which is a good indication of someone who has a significant need."
"Leads generated from radio advertising are a lot different that knocking on a door and making a call for yourself, says Mr. Martin. "When you have someone who hears you on the radio and they have initiated the call you are already in good standing."
"So not only have we created another salesperson in the office by using radio," says Mr. Martin, "But the leads that come in are very positive. There's a need there. The client has taken the initiative to call us... so the closing ratio is very high."
Mar. Martin offers advice to other Maine small businesses. "If you are not using radio, then you're probably doing yourself a disservice if you are trying to build your reputation or your market share."
4. Portland Radio Listeners Remember The Ads They Hear
If you're a Maine small business owner who depends on radio advertising to market its products and services, then the penultimate goal of your commercial should be to be remembered.
Recent research reports are unanimous: when you advertise your business on the radio, you will be remembered.
Local Ad Recall, a research company that measures the effectiveness of advertising, found that brand recall was 516% higher for companies that advertised on the radio vs. companies that did not. Consequently, Maine businesses that advertise on Portland radio have a much better chance of being remembered by prospective customers than companies who don't advertise on radio.
Consumer insight company Nielsen found similar results. Across several different business categories, on average, radio advertising improved recall by 82%. The businesses measured were a health and beauty company; an information technologies company; an auto aftermarket retailer; a motorcycle company; and a mobile app company.
Source: Nielsen 2016-2027
Scott Libby, owner of Freeport, Maine based Royal River Heat Pumps, has seen first-hand how effective brand recall is for his small business. He credits his radio advertising with contributing to a 200% increase in sales in one year.
When you ask Mr. Libby what he does for a living, he won't say he sells heat pumps. He tells anyone who asks, though, "I am a marketer. My company sells and installs heat pumps, but it's my job to make the phone ring,"
To market Royal River Heat Pumps, the company started using print advertising with some success. "But," says Mr. Libby, "Every time I would turn on the radio I would hear one of my competitors. So, I decided, reluctantly, that I would try it, too. According to Mr. Libby, he began to see results immediately.
"Twice in the same week," says Mr. Libby, "I showed up at new-home construction sites. When the builders, who I never met before, introduced me to their crews, the workers immediately began singing my radio jingle. I knew right then radio was working."
Contractors and builders have contributed greatly to the success of Royal River Heat Pumps. Mr. Libby says, "They are a strong source for referrals and repeat business. When a contractor recommends us to a homeowner, that comes with a huge amount credibility. Our [radio ads] keeps us top of mind when it comes time for them to refer us."
As important as contractors are to Mr. Libby's success, the majority of his sales comes directly from homeowners. His radio advertising is working there, too.
"I went on one sales call to meet a married couple at their home," say Mr. Libby. "The husband told me about how he and his wife sing the radio jingle together when it comes on. I offered them a small discount if they would sing it for me right then, which they did. To my surprise, with the exception of a few words here-and-there, they got it right."
As the husband and wife were singing Mr. Libby knew, his ad recall among radio listeners was high. "Our radio advertising makes us more than just a service provider. It makes us fun and memorable."
Mr. Libby does not conduct sophisticated market research like Nielsen or Local Ad Recall. He, however, lets his cash register keep score. Noting that his sales doubled during his first year of advertising, he proclaimed, "Radio is second to none."
5. How To Advertise To Maine's Moms
Forbes Magazine reports that mothers in the U.S. control $2.1 trillion in annual spending. Based on population distribution, that would mean Maine moms will account for $8.6 billion dollars of that giant wad of cash over the next year.
According to Nielsen, there are 141,748 moms living in southern Maine. So, what is best way for Maine small business owners to reach this category of consumers who are eager to spend? All signs point to Portland radio.
In just about every way, moms living in southern Maine are more lucrative customers than the general population of women. According to Nielsen, these mothers are 42% more likely to have household incomes of $100,000 or more.
Here are just some of the ways Maine moms are likely to spend their cash:
- 102% more likely to buy a motorcycle this year
- 88% more likely to go skiing or snowboarding this year
- 52% more likely to look for a new job this year
- 48% more likely to visit a quick service restaurant 5-9 times this month
- 46% more likely to be a Maine small business owner
- 46% more likely to go back to school this year
- 39% more likely to buy or lease a new car this year
- 30% more likely to purchase a recreation vehicle this year
- 17% more likely to buy a new house condo this year
Of all media available to Maine moms, Portland radio reaches the most, particularly among working moms. Here is how Nielsen breaks down media consumption of women living in Southern Maine.
Once a Maine small business owners has enlisted Portland radio to help unlock the $8.6 billion dollars Maine moms will spend this year, the next step is what to say to them.
Last year, Saatchi & Saatchi, a large global communication and advertising agency, released a survey, "Moms & Marketing: IRL (In real life). According to Ad Age, the key takeaway for marketers, including Maine small business owners, is, "When it comes to moms, get real. Stop focusing on motherhood as a job, and start talking to moms like the multifaceted, multidimensional human beings they are."
According to the Saatchi, 51% of moms surveyed believe advertisers and marketers just don't understand them. That could mean Maine business owners are talking the wrong way to more than 70,000 key consumers.
Ad Age goes on to say, "Moms dislike when marketers portray their role as 'the toughest job in the world,' an exhausting daily grind emphasized 'by showing frazzled drudgery with the odd moment of saintly pride,' according to the study.
So, advertisers and agencies should "stop treating motherhood as a job," and quit constantly positioning goods and services as furthering women's maternal "careers," said Mary Mills, worldwide director of strategic intelligence at Saatchi. "Motherhood is about being, not doing. Sure, there is a lot of 'doing' involved, and we aren't saying otherwise. But the aim of every mum is surely to be a good mother, not to do well at motherhood."
What's more, continues Ad Age. moms believe that ads too often depict motherhood as a sacred duty, putting moms on pedestals.
"Don't focus on perfection" or portray your products as the means to attaining it, Mills advised marketers. After a while, such ads "begin to look alike," and moms tune them out or get resentful. "Avoid the 'happy housewife,' the one-dimensional caretaker, the striving perfectionist," said Mills. "Motherhood is not an innate ability, and moms feel they never quite nail it, so remind her that mastery is not required."
According to the survey, continues Ad Age, unsurprisingly, moms mainly see themselves as "carers," spending nearly half their time providing for their family's emotional needs. That said, they also serve as "elders," dispensing cultural wisdom (13 percent of the time) and "coaches," guiding kids on how to behave (11 percent). To a lesser extent, moms also can serve as "playmates," "heroes," "friends" and "fans."
"Each of these roles provides your brand and business with relatively uncontested territory in which to engage mums," said Mills. So, marketers should mix things up and acknowledge the many parts moms play, rather than narrowly focusing on an outdated paradigm, said Mills: "Mums don't want you to help them do a job—but they will let you help them be everything they want to be."
Ad Age concludes, At least sometimes, "let [mom] be the goofy one for a change," a role advertising usually reserves for dad, said Mills. Overly earnest advertising can be a turnoff, and marketers can gain more acceptance if they lighten up every once and a while and "let mom be fun."
More Advice For Business Owners
- Maine Businesses Employ Portland Radio To Recruit Best Job Candidates
- Borrow These Radio Ads: Inspiration For Maine Small Business Owners
- Star Power Works For Maine Businesses Advertising On Portland Radio
- Is Anyone Still Listening To Portland Radio?
- Maine Business Owners Reach Most Desired Consumers on Portland Radio
- Maine Small Business Owners Ask: Is Portland Radio Still Relevant?