How to buy BIG advertising with a small budget

Just because your budget isn’t huge doesn’t mean you can’t get good results from your radio advertising campaign. You just have to know how to buy your frequency to get the best bang for your buck. You may think it’s best to buy as many stations as you can, and pepper your ads throughout the day. That isn’t a very good idea unless you have an enormous budget. Very few businesses can afford to make that work. It’s all about frequency saturation. You want your ad to get noticed. I’ve already written a lot about how you can make your message stand out, but that’s only half the battle. You also need to buy & place your media effectively to get the most out of your ads. Frequency saturation refers to the amount of commercials you have playing in any given radio hour. You don’t need to have them playing in every hour to be effective, but the higher the frequency, the more saturation you have. The more saturation, the more effective your campaigns message can be. It’ll get noticed more. It will be more effective. Having low frequency saturation can turn a big budget into a big disappointment in a hurry.

Think of it this way. Let’s say you have $20K to spend. You spread your commercials across 4 radio stations over the course of 6 months. Your frequency gets lower with every station you buy. Your ad won’t play often enough on any of those radio stations to create a lasting effect. You won’t benefit from memory retention in your listeners. Your ad is just not playing enough on any of those stations to become something that stands out. It takes the average person 17 listens to really recognize a commercial they’ve heard. 17!!!! If you’ve spread your media buy out really thinly, you might not get anything from your buy.

It’s better to put all your eggs in one basket and play close attention to that basket. Even if you have a medium or large budget, it can be a great benefit to buy only one radio station. You’ll be able to afford to get your message heard with greater frequency. Ideally you want people to hear your advertisement a lot! Not only that, you need to run the same piece of creative for a long time. Remember that you’re really close to the product. You may feel like your ad has burned out. Usually that’s not true. It takes a long time for a good ad to burn out completely. It happens quicker with comedic commercials. But, still, remember that you want your commercial to be remembered eventually. If people know what the commercial is about when they start to hear it, that isn’t a bad thing. It will just solidify your message. Your commercial won’t need to break through to the listener the way it did when you started running it. People will know what it’s about, and be reminded why the message is valid. As a rule of thumb, if you think your creative is on its last legs, let it run for at least two weeks more. It will always burn out faster for you than listeners.

What about if you have a really small budget? That’s ok. You just need to purchase your ads in a different way again. Stick with buying one station, but instead of buying times throughout the day, pick a few hours a day, and buy the crap out of them. It’s easy to think that the best hours to buy on a radio station are during the morning show. That doesn’t have to be true. You have to remember where your business can get the biggest return. Morning show ads are expensive, but the audience is big. But, the audience is usually pretty big throughout the day as well, but the cost of advertising goes down. That means you can run more ads. Also, try to relate your business to a certain time of day. If you run a restaurant, you may want to advertise around lunch or dinner. The 6-8am hours may not be as valuable to your business. Try to catch your audience when they’ll be the hungriest for your product. I like the idea of buying evenings and weekends when you have a small budget. They cost a lot less, but you’re still getting an audience. Actually, since PPM ratings have been common, we’ve been learning that listernership remains pretty heavy throughout the day. Also, the people who listen in the evening are more likely to be listening in the evening consistently. You’ll be advertising to those listeners a lot if you buy the times that they listen. Think of it this way. In the evening, the average major market radio station may have 25-75 thousand people tuned in. If you have a high frequency saturation, a really good commercial with a great message, you will do really well off of your media buy. You’ll reach a smaller audience than the morning show, but you’ll pay a lot less, or play your spot a lot more. So, really, there’s no difference. Also, how many people do you really need to reach? Getting 25000 to know about your business is a really good step in the right direction.