Creating a brand is essential to the long-term success of any Maine small business owner. The most remembered brands all have something in common: they advertise on Portland radio.
According to the YouGov Brand Index ratings for 2017, the brands whose advertising generated the highest ad awareness during 2017 were Geico, McDonald's, Verizon Wireless; AT&T; Walmart; Subway; DirectTV; T-Mobile; Progressive; and Walgreen's. Based on expenditure reports provided by The Radio Advertising Bureau, these 10 brands were all among radio's top advertisers.
So, what exactly is branding and why is it critical to the survival of a business?
Seth Godin, former head of direct marketing at Yahoo! and a recent inductee into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame, defines branding this way: "A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.
For branding to payoff, the consumer must recall the brand's promise at the point of purchase. Studies indicate that advertising on radio is a powerful (and affordable) way to create effective recall.
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 having their brand remembered by prospective customers than companies who don't advertise on radio.
Consumer insight company Nielsen found comprable 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 2016-2017
Scott Libby, owner of Freeport, Maine based Royal River Heat Pumps, has seen first-hand how effective brand recall can be. 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.
Radio Ad Recall Was Immediate
"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.
Customers Remember Radio Ad Word-For Word
"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."
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