In 1930, The Galvin Manufacturing Company of Chicago, Illinois invented the first successful car radio. They called it a Motorola (yes, that's where the name came from). Despite the expense (the first Motorolas cost as much as $7400 in today's dollars) and despite the safety concerns (56% of American's polled back then by the AAA deemed car radio radios to be a dangerous distraction) the mobile medium flourished. By 1946 over 9 million cars had a radio. With the advent of transistors in the early 60s which brought down the size and cost of in-car audio, soon, for every driver in Portland radio ruled the road.
AM/FM Radio Dials Back The Competition
Over the years, there have been several challengers to radio's dashboard dominance. In 1955, for instance, Chrysler installed a small turntable in its luxury cars that played little, 7-inch records that contained about 40 minutes worth of music. That didn't work out so well.
Then in 1965, Ford introduced the in-car 8-track player and then the in-dash cassette player in 1970. In 1985 Mercedes-Benz introduced the first in-car CD player. In 2002, Chrysler, Ford, and BMW began to offer satellite radio in their cars.
Last year, more than 140 different car models began offering Pandora's streaming media service to drivers. But despite all of the would-be challengers to be "king of the road," plain old AM/FM radio remains the number one in-car medium for drivers in Maine and the rest of America.
Radio Still Dominates The Dashboards of Maine
According to the US Census Bureau, the average consumers in Southern Maine spends over 49 minutes per day commuting. Here's how this breaks down by county:
- York County: 54.4 minutes
- Oxford County: 53.6 minutes
- Sagadahoc County: 46.8 minutes
- Androscoggin County: 46.4 minutes
- Cumberland County: 44.6 minutes
A study released last week by Edison Research makes it very clear that traditional AM/FM radio is still the dominate listening option for Maine's commuters. Even after 87 years of in-car entertainment no other medium comes close. Not Pandora. Not Sirius/XM. Not podcasts. Not Streaming. Surprisingly, the distant number 2 choice is commuter's own music collection on CD or MP3.
Radio's Dashboard Dominance Drives Retail Sales
Intuitively, you could conclude, that because consumers use their cars to travel to points-of-purchase, radio will be the last medium consumed before they make a final buying decision. In other words, Portland radio can help Maine small business owners get in one last word before customers buy.
This, indeed, has been the conventional wisdom for many years. But now, there is conclusive proof. Data provided to trade publication Inside Radio from cross-platform measurement service USA TouchPoints clearly demonstrates the link between radio and retail.
According to the publication, "Radio’s ubiquitous in-car presence is such that more purchases are made within 30 minutes of radio listening than are made after tuning to satellite radio, streaming audio and downloaded music combined. USA TouchPoints reports that 13% of the time that purchases were being made, radio was listened to in the same half-hour, compared to just 3% each for satellite radio and streaming audio. And 45% of the 18-64-year-old population made a purchase and listened to radio in the same half-hour during the week, which is five times higher than internet streaming audio."
Source: Inside Radio
Inside Radio goes on to say, "Radio’s proximity to the point of purchase is especially evident in the automotive category, which has seen a steady migration of ad dollars from traditional media to digital channels. More than one in five (21%) of automotive supply purchases, which include anything to do with automotive products such as buying gasoline, are made in the same half-hour when the customer was listening to radio. 'Because of the high percentage of time in the car that people are listening to radio, when they are stopping for gas or purchasing windshield washer fluid, they were just in their car and they were just listening to radio,' says Matt Hird, senior research analyst, USA TouchPoints.
Maine Small Business Owners Already Knew This
These findings are echoed by Tucker Cianchette, owner of Tucker Ford, who credits Portland radio as part of his mix for success. "We advertise on radio, says Mr. Cianchette, "because it allows us to get a personal message to a very large audience from every demographic. This is Maine's version of a billboard."
Other Maine business owners and marketing professionals, too, have benefited from Portland radio's proximity to consumer's buying decisions. This includes Stacy Dodge, owner of Bill Dodge Auto Group. Her company runs 8 dealerships throughout southern Maine including brands such as Kia, Infiniti, BMW, Cadillac, and Hyundai.
"We have been using 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."
Ms. Dodge goes on to say, "It is extremely important to be able to keep your ads current and there is a very quick turn around with radio. A new program or incentive can be announced to us in the morning and we can be on the air with a current ad reflecting the most recent information in the afternoon."
"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."
Portland Radio Provides Word Of Mouth
Jim Darroch, Director of Marketing for Madison based Backyard Farms, has successfully utilized the endorsements of Portland radio personalities to expand his company's business. "Our most powerful marketing tool is a happy customer telling his/her friends about our tomatoes, said Mr. Darroch. "When popular radio personalities share their honest thoughts and opinions about Backyard Farms with their audiences, we're able to reach thousands of people with the power of a friend's recommendation."
Theresa Torrent, Senior Planner of the Maine Coastal Program, echoes Mr. Darroch's strategy of leveraging the equity radio personalities have with their listeners. "It has proven to be the most effective method that we have tried for getting our message to a receptive audience," said Ms. Torrent. "With radio we have been able to create engaging messages often working with the radio hosts who the listeners know and trust."
Cathy Manchester, a real estate agent based in Gray, Maine, credits her advertising on Portland Radio with the ongoing success of her business.
"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!"
More Useful Advice For Maine Small Business Owners
- 5 Facts Maine Business Owners Know About Portland Radio That Ain't So
- A Good Slap To The Ear Can Pay Off For Maine Small Business Owners
- How Much Frequency Is Enough When Advertising on Portland Radio?
- Portland Radio: Turning Nickels Into Dollars For Maine Small Business
- Choosing A Portland Radio Station To Market Your Maine Small Business