In a world of ubiquitous media players it really is a wonder that conventional radio stations actually get anyone to listen to them at all but overall ratings on the over twelve thousand broadcasters on the AM and FM bands have been remarkably consistent for the past few years. As an event marketer you can get your message out to a local audience through radio in a remarkably efficient albeit very ol’ school manner. Follow these top seven tips and you’ll be well on the way to making your next regional event an “audible” success!

  1. Demographics. Just because you like to listen to New Age synthesized Zen water drips when you’re stuck in traffic doesn’t mean that your potential attendees share your proclivities. Meticulously review the demographic profiles of all the major radio stations in your town to ensure that you’re targeting the people most likely to attend your event.
  2. Frequency. Your radio station sales person is going to insist that you buy a spot every quarter hour but inform them that you have no intent to finance their next vacation to Hawaii. For most events an hourly frequency is more than enough but keep it running around the clock. Don’t just concentrate on morning and evening drives as people listen to radio at all hours. Run Of Station is the way to go.
  3. Length. There is no reason to buy a 60 second spot. They cost twice as much and, if anything, have even less impact than the standard 30 second ones. If you can’t say it in half a minute it’s not worth saying, so if you simply have to get all verbose about your event, do it in segments. Deal with one subtopic in one ad, a different one in another, and so on.
  4. Co-promos. You don’t have to be just a cash cow for your radio station’s sales department and do nothing other than buy straight ads when you can get massively more mentions by tying in with the station in a co-promotional agreement. In exchange for “XYZ-FM Presents” the station will get their announcers chattering about the event, do live broadcasts from the event (or any pre-events you have scheduled), and likely give you a whack of outright free spots.
  5. Multiples. Unless you’re in one of those amazingly rare radio markets where one huge station dominates all others and therefore obtains the lion’s share of ratings, you should buy on at least two stations at a time and preferably more. Remember to stick to the demographics, as if your number one station is Hip Hop Hits and your second is Big Band Music, your audiences will be too far apart.
  6. Announcers. It’s difficult to believe but it’s true: Many radio ads achieve greater impact if they’re spoken by a station personality than if you have your agency pull out all the stops to create an audio masterpiece complete with a 100 piece symphony orchestra playing your brand leitmotif, etc. You’ll achieve an even greater share of your listeners’ attention if the announcer does each ad live, working it in to their regular patter.
  7. Negotiate. Radio stations’ sales departments are the modern equivalent of a Middle Eastern Bazaar, so no matter what they quote you is up for some heavy-duty kvetching. A good rule of thumb is that if you push hard enough on a decent sized spot buy you should be able to finagle at least a good 20% off their rate card prices and likely well beyond that if you have the horse trading dealmaking sense of a master negotiator.

In a marketing universe where online vectors are attracting all the hype, there is still a place for Guglielmo Marconi’s time-honored invention. Although you’d be well advised to not rely on radio as your sole means of advertising your event, the Jurassic AM/FM bands can still pack a punch and deliver an audience to your event that you might not have been able to reach in any other manner. And that can make the difference between a half-full and a packed house!