How to Make Radio Advertising Work for You in 2018

“Radio advertising is dead.”

This is a commonly heard refrain from digital marketers, auto dealers and Pandora executives. Terrestrial AM/FM radio has certainly experienced a slippage in listeners lately, though it’s not really the fault of the medium.

We have a limited amount of listening time and a short attention span today, and there are a variety of other options available to us, including satellite radio; Internet radio like Pandora, Spotify and iHeartRadio; platforms like iTunes, Google Play and the disruptor of disruptors, Amazon. It’s not a surprise that traditional radio has suffered.

Should you still advertise your dealership on the radio? The answer is “Yes,” but only if you have the right content. Content is the key to maximizing your radio spending.

Let’s Face It: Most Radio Ads are Irritating

Name your LEAST favorite thing about listening to the radio. Is it commercials? Of course it is. Nobody wants to hear an endless barrage of commercials interrupting the program. You listen for the content, whatever it is — music, news, weather, traffic or funny on-air personalities you find entertaining – but NOT commercials. Think about it: who listens to the radio to hear the commercials? The people who buy the commercials.

Place Your Ads Strategically Near the Content

If content is why people listen to the radio, then it makes sense to place your radio ad adjacent to that content. In this way, you’re buying what people want to hear. People are tuning in to hear the traffic, weather, contests and music – so your dealership should be sponsoring those things.

“WXYZ radio traffic, brought to you by Smith Subaru” or “Your chance to win $500 in the Smith Subaru Summer Sweepstakes is coming up” are far more cost-effective messages than 60 seconds of yelling at listeners at high speed during a break in the content.

Hone Your Goals 

It’s also important to think about what you’re hoping to get out of radio. Why are you using it? Is it going to help you sell 15 cars this weekend? Probably not. But it might it make someone aware of your dealership who wasn’t before. It might help park your dealership’s name in the consciousness of something who’s going car shopping in the future.

Don’t Annoy Listeners

Our first instinct as auto dealers is to jam as much information as possible into a sixty second radio commercial. It’s important to remember, though, that nobody is listening through the entire sixty seconds. In addition, you’re reaching an entire population of people who aren’t in the market for a car and don’t care about your lease specials that are good “THIS WEEKEND ONLY!”

The most effective way to use radio today is for branding and through sponsorships that will help plant those seeds in the listeners’ minds. When they ARE in the market for a new car, whether it’s next week or two years from now, they will give you a call or stop in at your showroom.

Remember, don’t get buried in a commercial break – ask your radio rep or advertising agency what kind of features are available for sponsorship, what contests might be happening, and how your dealership can stand out from your competitors. They want your business, so chances are good they’ll do what it takes to make you a happy client.