Like thousands of other Maine small businesses, Northeast Technical Institute advertises on Portland radio to find customers. In NTI's case, their customers are students looking to start a new career.
NTI, who has campuses in Scarborough, Lewiston, and Bangor, is one of 11 for-profit schools in the state that compete for the attention of the 3000 students who enroll annually.
"With a variety of career programs that appeal to men and woman in several age categories, and with a limited budget to recruit prospective students," says NTI President Jim Liponis, "it is hard to beat radio advertising."
"NTI," says Mr. Liponis, "was established in 1995 to address the career training needs of students here in Maine. We were a 'sister company' to a school that my father began in New Hampshire to train people to become commercial truck drivers."
"Over the years, we've expanded our offerings to reflect the employment needs in the state," continues Mr. Liponis. "In addition to commercial truck driving, we now offer other short-term programs that train students to begin careers in healthcare, internet technologies, and HVAC."
"To recruit students," says Mr. Liponis, "we have spent millions of dollars advertising our brand. We've always utilized a broad mix of media. Early on, newspaper ads were a staple for us. Lately, we've been pushing more money towards internet and digital."
"For the past 22 years, though," Mr. Liponis adds, "advertising on Portland radio has had the most consistent place in our marketing mix. We have found that radio has a strong presence in Maine. With the variety of great stations, we can really fine tune our demographics and tailor our message to get the attention of what we know to be our target audience."
Mr. Liponis's view of radio's broad reach among potential students is supported by findings from Nielsen, a company that analyzes media consumption and consumer purchasing habits.
Research conducted by Nielsen earlier this year indicates that among all adults in southern Maine who are planning to go back to school for the type of training NTI offers, 95% tune-in to their favorite Portland radio stations every week. This is substantially more than watch local TV; read a local newspaper or magazine; or use a streaming media service like Pandora or Spotify.
"Generally speaking," says Mr. Liponis, "our marketing campaigns are designed to tell inspiring stories about our graduates and then were rewarded with fulfilling careers."
"In telling those stories, he says, "we often include messages from employers who’ve hired NTI graduates. While our primary expectation is that prospective students will respond to our advertising, we know, for sure, that our marketing efforts have played a big role in paving the way for Maine employers to place a high-value on the students we have educated."
Here are two examples of NTI commercials currently running on Portland radio stations:
"Over the years, says Mr. Liponis, "these types of radio commercials have given NTI a steady voice in the communities we serve. Our carefully designed campaigns have allowed that voice to be not just ours, but the voices of students, graduates and employers. In essence, we’ve been beating the drum of a better, more qualified workforce and we’ve grown the NTI brand on the back of those messages."
When asked what advice he would give to other Maine small business owners who were considering advertising on Portland radio, Mr. Liponis says, "I believe that using radio successfully means having a plan to deliver a clear and concise message and to do it steadily and to work with a station representative who really knows the market and who will take the time to get to know your business."
"We have benefited," Mr. Liponis emphasizes, "from having great relationships in the business and when it is the right person on the radio side, it is really like adding marketing expertise to your team, without having to bring on the payroll."