You can find Procter & Gamble's products almost anywhere in Maine. They make Tide detergent, which you can find in your laundry room. They make Gillette razors, which you can find in your bathroom. They make Pampers which you can find in your in your nursery. And they make Swiffer which you can find in your broom closet.
The only place in Maine where, until recently, you could not find Proctor & Gamble products was on Portland radio. For years, Procter & Gamble, despite being the largest advertiser in the world, avoided radio advertising.
Recently, though, Procter & Gamble, announced they have begun making large investments in radio advertising. P&G's rationale can serve as a marketing lesson to Maine small business owners who depend on local media to market their own companies and brands.
"We are spending more [in radio] and you’re going to see more in the next couple of quarters,” John Fix, analyst/manager—North America Media & Marketing at P&G.
According to trade magazine Inside Radio, "P&G is now augmenting its media portfolio with radio buys for some of it biggest brands to reach Americans it can’t get through TV. Among P&G brands now using radio are Tide, Pantene, Vicks, and Gillete."
Fueling P&G's return to radio is their growing disenchantment with both TV and digital advertising. "93% of households are listening to radio, said Mr. Fix. "That’s the scale I need for my brands to reach the people that buy them." According to research company Nielsen, radio's omnipresence among consumers is eclipsing TV and all other forms of mass media.
In Maine, specifically, 706,000 adults tuned-in to a Portland radio station. In contrast, 72,118 fewer people watched a local TV station. Even fewer, 349,231 fewer to be exact, read a local newspaper. It turns out that broadcast radio is used more by Mainer's than all forms of media including smartphones, internet apps, satellite radio, Pandora, and Spotify.
In a recent panel discussion at a broadcasting convention, Mr. Fix credited an article penned Nielsen's Brad Kelly, “The Six R’s of Radio,” as fostering P&G's migration into radio advertising. “Recency, relevancy talking to the right people before they get to the retailer….There’s such a compelling argument for it,” Fix said.
Media expert Doug Schoen has reached a similar conclusion as Mr. Fix about the value of radio advertising. Mr. Schoen said in Forbes Magazine, "You wouldn’t know it from all the media coverage focused on streaming video and streaming music, but recent Nielsen data shows radio actually has the most reach among American media consumers. 93% of adults listen to the radio each week as compared to 87% who watch TV, a substantive difference."
Mr. Schoen goes on to describe how radio advertising was credited with the success of Amazon's first Prime Day sales event. "Of those exposed to [Amazon's] radio ads, 52% made a purchase. That compares with 48% of people who saw ads online and 39% who saw TV ads."
"The implications of results like these are profound for the communications and advertising industries," said Mr. Schoen, "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."
Many Maine small business owners have discovered the value of radio advertising as well. This includes Scott Libby of Royal River Heat Pumps in Freeport.
Mr. Libby credits his advertising campaign on Portland radio and his catchy jingle with doubling the company's 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."
It seems that Mr. Fix's thoughts about radio are in sync with Ms. Dodge, Ms. Manchester, Mr. Goodman, Mr. Libby and Mr. Schoen's. Inside Radio reported that Mr. Fix described himself as big fan of radio. He also expressed his frustration with millennial-aged, New York City advertising agency people who believe “myths” that radio is dying and has no reach.
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