Direct Response Radio Deserves Mailers’ Attention

Aug 18, 2008 11:53 PM  By

Most catalogers won’t give two minutes thought to using direct response radio for prospecting. But radio shouldn’t be overlooked; direct response radio offers opportunities for expanding your customer base without breaking the bank.

Radio is in fact a relatively inexpensive medium to test. And compared to direct mail and television, radio is a bargain. For less than $25,000 a cataloger could test a two different creative options and find out which formats are most likely to be fruitful.

Radio also has many options. With thousands of stations from coast to coast, there are a myriad of formats, day parts, geography, and networks to test and evaluate. While all those options may seem challenging at first, they offer opportunity for targeting your message. For example, format choices run the gamut from rock and country to gospel and talk. Stations with the same formats generally have similar demographics as well. Your first testing goals should be identifying which formats are most receptive to your message.

Identifying appropriate day parts for your brand should be your next goal. Do you reach your audience during morning drive time? Weekends? Testing will help you hone in on where to focus.

But how does a cataloger go about creating a message and an offer that works on radio? In most cases this means focusing on lead generation. Remember that there are no visuals in radio. So it will often be a challenge to try to sell directly from a radio ad if your product requires visuals such as apparel. However, to generate catalog leads doesn’t require visuals. A good radio script can create word pictures very effectively.

And don’t forget to make a great offer – a discount, free shipping or free item off a first order is a good start. If you have an unusual product line that appeals to a large enough segment of the population you should be able to generate a good number of calls or Web site visits. Remember that with lead generation offers you want to cast a wide net – get as many quality catalog requests as possible and then capitalize on converting the requesters to buyers in the best and fastest way possible.

Remember that you’ll need to capture the responses to both phone and Web and track effectively to know if radio is working for you. Set up unique phone numbers and URLs for radio responses for this purpose. For a simple catalog request, consider outsourcing some call center services to deliver a lower cost per response and avoid abandoned calls—and lost sales opportunities.

Shari Altman is president of direct marketing consultancy Altman Dedicated Direct.