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Direct Response Marketing

Heard It on the Radio

1 Jan, 2009 By: Bridget McCrea Response

Surrounded by newfangled advertising media that range from the Web to online video to mobile, one might think that radio wouldn't stand a chance of surviving as a direct response vehicle. And while few campaigns revolve solely around the radio waves, many more incorporate the more "traditional" option as part of the overall marketing mix.

Radio continues to play an important role in many DR campaigns.
Radio continues to play an important role in many DR campaigns.

By "streaming" radio programs onto the Web for all to hear, for example, stations have been able to keep up with the times and reach an audience that's less apt to listen to the radio in a more traditional sense. Still, Jeff Small, CEO at Portland, Maine-based Strategic Media, says there's plenty of room for radio to step into the new millennium.

"People expect each medium to be able to adapt to technology and change, but radio hasn't changed much over time," Small explains. "As a result, it has been challenging for radio to stay 'fresh' and find a balance that keeps listenership high through traditional means, on the Web or via devices like the iPod."

Working in DR radio's favor, says Small, is the fact that it works particularly well when used in conjunction with other media. "There's a lot of consistency with radio because it's not as fragmented as TV, the Internet or even some direct mail," Small adds. "You can target certain audiences with radio, despite the fact that it is an older, more traditional advertising medium."

Universal Appeal

Where radio was once looked upon as a DR medium that couldn't keep up with the times, it has since proven its longevity in an environment where new, high-tech advertising options come out of the woodwork on a regular basis. "More and more advertisers are interested in radio, and recognize it as more than just the 'elephant graveyard' of the media world," says Buck Robinson, president and CEO at Robinson Radio in Richmond, Va.

Avoiding DR Radio Mistakes
Avoiding DR Radio Mistakes

Radio can be especially useful for direct response advertisers that need an inexpensive testing ground for TV campaigns, or that are looking to give campaigns one last shot before throwing in the towel. "Some marketers are taking commercials off of TV and going to radio with them before putting a bullet in the entire campaign," explains Robinson. "Others are dusting off prior radio campaigns that didn't pan out the first time and giving them another try."

Robinson, who has been working in the DR radio world since 1993, says this turnaround in attitudes has taken place during the past couple years. "Getting marketers to talk about DR radio used to be like pulling teeth," he explains. "No longer, and that's a good thing." The environment on the media side of things has also changed, with the "fat and happy" stations now concerned about revenue erosion (from competition like the Internet) and becoming more appreciative of DR dollars.

"Stations no longer treat DR as the low-hanging fruit that gets dumped when something better comes along," says Robinson. "In fact, the stations recognize that while a lot of general-rate advertisers have come and gone, the DR advertisers have stayed true to them."

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