Utilising Radio Marketing

By Kerri Lewis / 10 Feb 2020

Clinic manager Kerri Lewis explores how radio marketing can be beneficial for your business

Radio may not be the first platform that springs to mind when you think of advertising your business, especially in an age where social media seems to reign supreme allowing you to showcase your company with little or no cost. In this fastpaced world, radio can seem old-school and, potentially, expensive as a promotional tool. However, there are several very valid reasons why you shouldn’t write off marketing through radio. This article will explore the marketing concepts and key considerations when deliberating the opportunities that radio marketing can offer.

The rule of seven

Let’s first look at ‘the rule of seven’. This is a marketing principle that tells us that prospects must come across your offering a minimum of seven times before they even notice your brand and maybe take action.1 This is a concept which has been around for decades and is based on the human brain’s reticular activating system (RAS).1 It sounds complicated but simply put, your RAS acts like a filter to keep what is relevant in your conscious and the not so helpful in your subconscious. Everyday your potential patients are being overwhelmed with marketing messages and there’s a huge amount of competition out there. Getting your message through the data smog at least seven times to your desired audience is a herculean task. But the important takeaway is that you do need to do this, and you need to review and experiment with the marketing channels that you use.

Advert avoidance

Radio (along with TV), has the lowest level of advertising avoidance according to market research company Sifo Research.This is because it’s rare that people switch between stations and so are more likely to hear your advert. Advertising company On Advertising states, ‘Listeners use radio for emotional reasons – to keep their spirits up, to stop themselves from feeling bored in a car or isolated while doing daily chores. This leads to them seeing radio as a kind of friend, and this is a valuable context for an advertiser to appear in’.3

The digital world

Audio has always been a strong call-to-action medium and even more so in a world where listeners can access brands online.4

In fact, a study conducted by industry body Radiocentre found that exposure to radio advertising boosts brand browsing power by an average of 52%.5 As well as this, more than half of browsing that was identified as having been stimulated by radio takes place within 24 hours of exposure to advertising.5

Other research suggests that 66% of the UK’s population tune in to digital radio each week, which means that listeners literally have your brand at their fingertips.4 You can take advantage of this by directing listeners to your website and/or visually with display ads that they can click on through listening to the radio via an app. This means that prospects can access your website (or any other digital platform you direct them to) whilst the enthusiasm is there; we live in an age of instant gratification. I believe we could be missing a trick if we don’t tap into the need for instant gratification and potential patients could go with a competitor who can satisfy this need.


Radio marketing isn’t something that you should jump into without serious consideration as, in my experience, it’s likely that you will be asked to sign a contract with the station for a minimum of six months or up to a year. Shorter term contracts may increase the price of your adverts.5 Like any marketing platform, if you don’t do it well, you could waste your money and, unlike social media, you can’t be reactive and change your advert overnight.

  1. Research: Consider, what will your target audience be listening to? Who better to ask than your existing customer base as, presumably, you’d like more people who are similar to them through your doors. It’s worth the effort of sending out a simple survey asking what, if any, radio stations they currently tune into. The radio station should be able to offer you their listener figures which will allow you to make an informed choice, alongside your own surveys/research on the station you choose.
  2. Multi-channel marketing: Multi-channel marketing (multiple touch points) means that you can reach prospects no matter where they are or what their marketing preferences are. For example, if you restrict yourself to Instagram (a mobile channel) you’ll be missing the opportunity for your message to reach those using Facebook (both a mobile and computer channel), or potential patients who listen to the radio (radio/mobile/computer channels). We also mustn’t forget the retail shopfront, which is a physical touch point. When we first opened our clinic, The Skin to Love Clinic, we were approached by a sales representative for a nationwide radio network with a county-based station. I made the mistake of taking up that advertising opportunity because we wanted to get our name out there and we were lured by the station’s large audience numbers. In hindsight, I don’t believe at that stage we had enough supporting touch points to expose our message to our prospects.
  3. What will you get for your money?: Each station will offer different packages so it’s worth researching what’s on offer and whether you can create a bespoke package to suit your budget and needs. Drawing from my own experience, given our first attempt at radio advertising and the learning points mentioned above, I had a good understanding of why that station didn’t work for the clinic. But, I knew that as a medium, radio had great potential. So, we approached another local radio station which had a target audience more suited to our brand. We discussed budgets and together built a sponsorship package that included an advert, sponsorship of a specific lifestyle show and monthly on-air interview slots which allow us to educate listeners. Personally, I listen to a radio station that doesn’t have advertising, but I realise that I am subconsciously influenced by comment, discussion and ideas. So, for me, the most valuable part of our deal is the opportunity to inform prospects about the clinic’s offering and break down any barriers they may have about coming in to see us. In my experience, no two radio stations have offered me a like-for-like package and therefore the price has been variable. Workspace gives us a very generalised idea of costs, by stating, ‘As a rule of thumb, radio advertising is charged at a rate of approximately £2 per thousand listeners at one time. If a show has 100,000 listeners at 10am, then buying a 30-second spot at that time will cost you £200. The late show’s 10,000 listeners at 11pm would only cost £20’.7 No matter your choice on station, if you have a budget in mind, it would be worth approaching them and asking what package they can offer you within your price range.
  4. Decide who should represent you: Stations should provide the option of producing your radio advert as part of your package and naturally you will have input into the content. You should be able to discuss the type of actor you think should be right for your advert; for example, male, female, age and tone of voice. All of this proved particularly valuable in the success of our advert as the voice actress represented our desired target demographic; a middle-aged female with an accent similar to the broadcast area.8 If the package that you select presents the opportunity to speak on a show as part of an interview or discussion, you need to think carefully about the topics you want to discuss and, egos aside, who is going to best represent you. In my opinion, presuming you have a background in the industry, the best person is probably going to be you unless, of course, the subject matter is outside of your speciality; a carefully selected practitioner would be a good alternative if they’re required to talk about medical or specialist topics. Remember, this type of interview is not going to be a frightening display of investigative journalism from your interviewer, it’s a conversation much like the ones you have on a daily basis with your patients. The interviewer will be wanting to get the best from you and not try to trip you up on purpose. That said, if you’re asked to offer specialist opinion for a radio debate, it may be more intense than an interview that is part of your advertising package. If this is the case, or if you simply feel you need some help with any radio interviews, it may be worth investing in some media training.
  5. Don’t forget your call to action: It may sound obvious, but don’t forget to direct listeners to your business, otherwise it’s a wasted opportunity. Radioworks.co.uk, an independent radio advertising agency, states that, ‘Audio has always been a strong-call toaction medium. We can do this with traditional radio campaigns by running promotions that drive listeners online or with digital audio campaigns by using numerous methods such as audio adverts with clickable display banners’. Don’t beat around the push with your call to action, you should be direct. For example, what do you think is going to be more persuasive in getting the listener to do what you want them to do: ‘You can visit our website for more information’ or ‘Visit our website today to start your journey to better skin’. The latter example is giving the listener a reason to take the desired action and tell them exactly what to so. It’s down to you to enthuse the listener.9
  6. Adhere to the ASA guidelines: The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) monitor adverts and give guidance on how to keep advertising in the UK legal, decent, honest and truthful.10 Use this resource to make sure that your advert complies with their standards. Personally, I wouldn’t rely on your station checking your wording; after all, it’s unlikely that they’ll be experts in your industry. ASA displays the UK code of broadcast advertising which is free to download from its website and gives you comprehensive guidance for the copy of your radio advert.11

Return on investment

The goal with any advertising is generating leads. Measuring this return on investment (ROI) can be tricky when there is no ‘evidence’ of click-through to the website, which can be easily measured with digital marketing. To gauge where our leads come from, I ensure that our reception team asks patients where they heard about us at the time of booking their first appointment and again at their first visit. This is recorded on our diary booking system which easily allows me to run a report on sources of new patients. This is valuable as it saves me time collating the information myself, however if your diary management system doesn’t allow you to do this, a simple excel sheet could also work to record this data. You can also set up a website landing page, for example yourwebsite.co.uk/BBCradio1, and have your advert or interviewer direct listeners to that page so that you can monitor the number of prospects who have followed your call to action. Regardless of the difficulties in monitoring more traditional marketing there is much evidence to show that it can generate a good ROI.


Radio marketing can form part of a successful, multi-channel marketing plan. Implement methods to ensure that your radio marketing is well choreographed to work in synergy with your other marketing channels for a worthy ROI.

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