How Small Businesses Can Find Success Using Radio and Magazine Advertising


Small businesses often assume that the best advertising tactics are only geared toward big businesses. Corporations have a more expansive budget to invest in all sorts of marketing, especially traditional formats. However, these media still offer profound value to small businesses. While you still need to bend to the constraints of your budget, small business radio advertising and magazine marketing can generate the results these companies need to succeed, especially when used together in a campaign to develop a message or build their brand.

Each media is already powerful in their own right. Magazine readership is up by 6.2%, and it has a strong readership with younger generations. Meanwhile, radio reaches a healthy 91% of Americans throughout the country and across all ages throughout the day. Hand in hand, these media amplify each other. For example, in an RAB case study, the brand ran a radio campaign that was bolstered by magazine ads, as well as other marketing channels. Name recognition jumped by 75% over just one year while there was an overall increase in phone volume compared to previous years.

Tips for Small Businesses to Find Success with Radio and Magazine Advertising

Knowing how powerful small business magazine advertising and radio spots or endorsements can be together is only the first step to leveraging them for success. Next you need to understand how to actually use them together for optimal impact.

Have a Plan.

If you plan the year ahead of time, you can make strategic use of radio and magazine despite the fact that they may seem more expensive. With an annual plan, you can develop a schedule that clearly lays out what is already needed and when, along with defined expectations about impact and ROI. You’ll be able to see where you want or have the room for expanding your campaign by adding magazine to raise awareness and/or radio for awareness or driving action. It helps to remember that magazines have a longer lead time and can’t be changed at the last minute, while radio spots are more malleable, especially if you partner with a personality offering an endorsement. This lets them play different roles in your campaign and touch your audience in different ways.

Allocate Some of Your Budget toward These Efforts.

With a calendar, you’ll also be able to weigh whether these channels could provide the impact necessary to warrant a piece of your budget. Marketing is an investment, but that means your budget must always come first. It should guide everything from how many channels you use to what your frequency should be for each, not to mention the development and production of the ad itself. Don’t undermine your efforts just to spread out to more channels; instead, focus on effectively using each for the best results.

Once you’ve determined how much budget you can allot to magazine and radio, you can develop a plan to strategically deploy them to accomplish your goals. For small businesses, this probably means dominating one channel at a time rather than try to do everything at once. Start with adding the channel that best suits your business goals and promises the best results.

Know Your Target Audience.

We cannot overemphasize the importance of your target audience. To be effective, your marketing must reach a qualified audience on channels they use. That means that while a particular radio station or magazine is highly popular, if your audience isn’t there for it, you’re wasting your investment if you advertise there. On the other hand, if your audience adores a particular radio personality, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity if you don’t advertise.

Try to understand how your audience interacts with radio and magazines differently and where each of them intersects that audience in their path to purchase. This allows you to use one to bolster the other. If they predominantly read magazines, for example, radio could act as a great reminder media. If you’ve noticed a trend that they listen to a particular radio host on their way to work and read a magazine during lunch or once they get home, the roles would be reversed and the radio ad or endorsement would provide the bulk of your message, while the magazine spot would act as a reminder that moves them closer to your brand.

Develop Great Creative.

Choosing your medium is only half the battle. Base your creative on your target audience to appeal to and influence them. Dull, generic, or overused creative becomes boring and easy to ignore. We’ve explored how to develop amazing creative before, so be sure to check out our tips for crafting a memorable experience. Remember, while radio and magazine present very different types of ads, the underlying creative should be cohesive. If you’re also using other channels, the entire campaign needs to be unified. It’s true that a magazine can’t feature a jingle, and that a radio ad can’t feature a logo, but the message should be the same, and you should rely on your standards guide to maintain consistency with branding elements.

Determine How To Track ROI.

If marketing is an investment, then it’s critical to track the returns for that investment. What that looks like can vary based on your goals, the type of campaign you run, and the medium you’re using. Radio is an inherently ephemeral medium, so you’ll need to take the extra step to tie it to something tangible, like a radio-specific promotional code or landing page. Also, while the ultimate goal may be to improve sales, remember that not all impacts are tangible and attribution isn’t always straightforward. For instance, if you’re running a branding campaign through magazine, you probably won’t see a specific spike in sales or web traffic. Changes will be in awareness and brand perception, which can be harder to measure. Take your time to develop a real strategy for seeing results.

Remember, just because you see big businesses flooding a traditional channel, that doesn’t mean that it’s inaccessible to you. Always be sure you explore what your audience wants, what the actual costs to you will be, and the sort of impact it will make on your results. Small business radio advertising and magazine ads can provide great benefits when you leverage them together properly. Use our tips as a starting place to consider your options.

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