Monday, May 24, 2010

Once upon a time in the land of radio

Some 15 years ago RWA started working with a small retailer. With just one location, the company had no plans to expand. Rather the owner was quite content to simply grow the business that was currently coming into his shop, servicing as many customers as possible in his 9 to 5 (or sometimes 9 to 3) workday.

The company wasn’t the typical agency client, but we were impressed by the owner’s commitment to a consistent advertising effort so we took him on. Year after year, month after month, during season and during off season, we ran advertising for this one store. You know what? That old adage – the one about how consistent advertising works – well, it actually works!

For the past 15 years, we have consistently run advertisements for our retailer on local radio stations. Today, not a week goes by when a new customer doesn’t wander into this one shop and speak those glorious words “I heard your ad on the radio.”

Much ado has been made over radio and about the impact of new developments such as satellite radio on the effectiveness of local radio advertising. Granted radio listeners today have more options, much as they do in television, in print and online. So making an impact on radio is more challenging than it has been in the past.

The success our one-shop retailer has had on radio is largely due to the entertaining nature of its radio spots. Since the company has only one location which is manned only by the owner, the radio advertisements capitalize on the unique experience of shopping local and dealing directly with the guy who owns the shop. The offbeat, obviously locally produced radio ads feature the owner chatting with listeners, much in the way he does when they come into his shop. His topics cover everything from recent events, to childhood memories, to rants about life’s little annoyances. In between, he throws in a little info about his shop and invites people to come visit. Listeners come in as much to meet him as to shop at the store.

Radio has often been described as “theatre of the mind,” the one medium where an advertiser could build an image in its customers’ minds by telling them a really good story. Tell it enough and people start to listen. Then, pretty soon, they start to respond. After all, who doesn’t love a really good story?