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Direct Response Marketing

Radio Waves: New Growth Opportunities Await DR Radio Landscape

1 Sep, 2008 By: Response Contributor Response


With the mass media's steady stream of gloom-and-doom messages about the state of the economy and its prospects for the future, Chicken Little must be doing cartwheels! But this popular perception of pessimism and paranoia means only one thing to the savvy direct response marketer — opportunity! And no medium presents a greater abundance of opportunity to the DR community in the current environment than radio.

Daniel Meehan
Daniel Meehan

Radio has never been known for embracing new business models, and, until a few years ago, the stations were so fat and happy, they didn't see any reason for change. But now with traditional advertisers cutting budgets or fleeing to new media outlets like the Internet, the industry is paying for its myopia.

Stations and networks have been forced to rethink their business models in an attempt to identify new sources of revenue. Fortunately with the help of DR marketers, the radio industry — terrestrial, satellite and online — is using the current economic environment to reinvent itself, opening its eyes to a greater variety and depth of revenue streams.

If you're a direct response marketer looking for new ways to inject life into your business and grow your company's sales, read on. Two ideas that are not new to media like television or the Internet, but that represent "virgin territory" on radio are:

  • 1. Long-form radio
  • 2. Social networking forums

Today's educated consumers have come to expect more information about a product before making a purchase. Television infomercial marketers have used this to their advantage for years, but radio has shunned the idea of "block advertising" out of fear of losing core listeners.

The all-powerful program directors have hung out the proverbial "closed for business" sign to the infomercial world, but with the rise of "infotainment" and other product integration strategies, we've found that the right combination of salesmanship and entertainment cannot only help DR marketers find virgin airtime, but the audience is more than ready to respond. By delivering content that's proven to drive higher response rates and consumer brand identity, long-form radio has the potential to rock the radio industry.

Similarly, social networking has exploded in today's society and the radio industry has not taken full advantage of this cultural phenomenon. However, in the spirit of the "better late than never" philosophy, we've identified three major areas where you can tap into the social networking world and achieve strong advertising results:

  • 1. Listener interaction
  • 2. Mobile integration
  • 3. Online forums

It has been our experience that the only way to make this a win-win scenario for both the stations/shows and the advertiser is to develop a turnkey solution. For instance, with one new program, it's possible to monetize all of the calls coming into a radio station's programming, serving ads to all of the folks who want to speak with Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura Schlesinger or just their local DJ.

A standard radio practice — calling in to speak with the on-air talent — has been adapted to create new advertising opportunities for direct response marketers and an entirely new source of "non-traditional revenue" for the stations. In addition, a true DR radio agency will help the stations develop a platform for social interaction that incorporates all three areas outlined above. Callers can be encouraged to engage with the programs, and this provides a progressive avenue for highly targeted advertisements.

Mobile integration is then utilized to allow for sharing of the engagement with others, driving these individuals to online forums. This provides a highly targeted audience that is engaged with the programming and advertisers in a setting that drives bottom-line results.

The mass media and Madison Avenue might see a glass that is depleting rapidly, but as long as there is a "sip" left, there is opportunity to prosper. Let their loss be your gain — unprecedented opportunities are presenting themselves daily on local, national and satellite radio, but only for those DR advertisers willing to capitalize on them. So if you have been sitting on the sidelines waiting to give radio a try, get your helmet on and jump in while you still can!

Daniel Meehan is vice president of sales and marketing for Glen Allen, Va.-based Robinson Radio. He can be reached via phone at (804) 726-6400, ext. 114, or via E-mail at dmeehan@robinsonradio.com.


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