The Big Mistakes In Radio Advertising

The Big Mistakes In Radio Advertising.

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The Big Mistakes In Radio Advertising

After over a decade in direct response, we have peered "under the hood" of hundreds of direct marketing campaigns across every type of category imaginable. Sometimes a new client will come to us after a failed attempt with another agency, or simply to get a second opinion on whether their campaign was or is being run optimally. As a result of this extensive experience, not only have we seen which decisions make campaigns successful, but also which decisions condemn campaigns to certain underachievement of their potential.
Biggest Direct Response Radio Mistake #1: Faulty or non-existent testing methodology
There are many ways for a testing methodology to fall short, which is why this is #1 on the list. Testing the wrong variables, testing in the wrong order, testing too many variables, testing too few variables. The list is long. The point to remember is that success requires a scientific approach. That means disciplined and well thought out - a "ready-aim-fire" approach verses "fire-fire-fire".
Any good direct response agency has staff that understands the process for conducting scientific research, particularly research methods, statistics, and database management. The best DR agencies have applied this knowledge over time and have developed a proven testing methodology, along with the supporting technological infrastructure, that will get you from testing to profitability with the least amount of up-front time and money.
If you don't follow a well-defined, proven testing methodology, you are throwing your ad dollars away. Period. You simply will not know why one ad works better than another or whether there are other approaches that could work better. You will just be out of money before you can determine whether your campaign has legs.
Biggest Direct Response Mistake #2: Inadequate data capture and analysis
The power of direct response radio stems in part from the ability to collect and analyze results from the bounty of data that can be collected - and to distill insights that drive further refinement of the campaign. As all experienced marketers know, it is the insights that lead you to grand successes. With the right tools, technology, and processes, it is possible to conduct station-by station analysis, look at performance by market, format, day of the week, daypart, and a whole host of other variables to understand what's working and what's not for a particular campaign. This is vital to the process of optimizing campaign profitability.
Yet many avoid this process, shield it from their clients, or conduct "analysis lite" on the data. The problem is that you can't distill the insights if you don't dive into the analysis. As a result, perfectly viable campaigns are being deemed failures. In these situations people declare "radio just doesn't work", and proceed to run away as fast as possible. Avoid this mistake by making sure your media buys are backed by thorough, detailed analysis, not a cookie-cutter approach cloaked in unproven, formulaic assumptions.
Biggest Direct Response Mistake #3: Flying blind
It still astounds us how many people, smart business people, ask us to move forward with advertising before they know the basic key metrics associated with their campaign. We refer to this as "flying blind." It is not unlike deciding to fly a plane surrounded by instruments that are providing you data you can't use to make important decisions about flying the plane. Turn left, turn right, speed up, ascend, descend? Scary thought? It should be, because absent a tremendous amount of luck it spells sure death.
Every direct response campaign has a similar set of key profitability metrics and each one has a hurdle or break-even level that must be met in order to achieve some level of profitability. The big mistake is spending a dime before this exercise has been completed. Why? Because when you get the test results back, you won't know what to make of the data. You won't have a context within which to assess whether what you are looking at is good, amazing or awful. Bottom line: model the campaign, identify the key metrics, and know what those numbers have to be. And by all means, make sure your agency knows so they can maximize the profitability of your media campaign.
Biggest Direct Response Mistake #4: Having the wrong people on the bus
Each DR campaign is comprised of similar vendors. This includes a manufacturer, a creative and media buying agency, a sales center, a customer service group, and a fulfillment center. You can poll any one of these groups of vendors and there is one thing they would all agree on: not one of them alone can make the campaign a success. This is a classic team situation. If one member drops the ball, the whole team fails.
As the client, perhaps the single biggest impact you'll have on the success of the campaign is how you decide to choose the members of your team - who you put "on the bus". Sales centers will always tell you they will meet the needs you've expressed (guess what, they're good at sales!). Big agencies will always try to convince you that only they can get the lowest rates and only they can grow your campaign really big (as if suddenly the laws of market economics don't apply).
Will you choose the ones who say they've been around since the beginning of time and believe they know all there is to know, or the ones who are experienced but also unassuming enough to be constantly learning, improving, and giving birth to new ideas? Will you choose vendors who play nice with the other team members, or those who throw the others under the bus at the first sign of trouble? If you don't choose wisely, your campaign could fail for reasons you won't even understand.
Biggest Direct Response Mistake #5: A corrupted creative process
The biggest mistake in the creative development process is...not having a disciplined approach. This is too common and is easily avoidable. To avoid this mistake, you've got to communicate one thing very clearly: how do you define success? Agencies want to please the client. If you ask for an ad that will make you proud (even though you aren't the target market), then you'll get exactly that. If you ask for an ad that sounds and/or looks like all other ads, you'll get that. You'll get an ad that won't stand out, won't offend anyone, and won't be created using the best direct response wisdom available. The ad will bomb. Every time.
Once you communicate the definition of success, allow the creative process to unfold. A professional direct response ad creator is someone who has learned a tremendous amount about what works and what doesn't, on millions of other people's dimes. We've built a large database of direct response wisdom that can save you a lot of time and money. If you define success as an ad that reaches a certain CPO, and trust the creative process, you're much more likely to get an ad that produces successful results. Now that will make you proud.
Now that you are armed with knowledge of the top 5 Biggest Mistakes in Direct Response Radio, you are well on your way to boosting your chances of Direct Response success. To be sure, there are other mistakes to avoid. Knowing about these mistakes is half the battle. Knowing how to avoid them is the other half. How do you produce insights? How do you approach testing methodically? How do you know which vendors to choose? How do you develop breakthrough creative? How do you get the remnant rates on the best time slots?
Radio can be an enormously profitable customer acquisition channel for many businesses. We build and manage campaigns that range in size from $1 million to over $15 million in annual advertising spending.
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Serge Daudelin is a Search Engine Optimization Specialist who has written over 300 articles in print and 5 published ebooks. Serge is dedicated to helping others and offering the best information on how to make more money online.

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