5 Myths Shenandoah Valley Business Owners Fall For

When you were a kid, you knew it for a fact.  A penny tossed from the top of the Empire State Building would be lethal to the innocent pedestrian it encountered 100 stories below. How this came to be believed with such certainly, who knows. But as it turns out, it just ain’t so.

According to physicists, the terminal speed of the penny would be about 25 mph.  So, if such a penny actually hit someone, it would feel more like a flick to the forehead, not like a bullet to the brain.

Among Shenandoah Valley small business owners, similar myths and urban legends persist about using local radio to effectively advertise their goods and services. Below are the 5 most common facts that these business owners know…but that just ain’t so.

Myth 1: Nobody Listens To The Radio Any More. 

It’s true. Nobody listens to the radio any more. But on the other hand, they don’t listen any less either.  According to Nielsen, in 2001, long before the advent of Pandora, You Tube, Sirius/XM, Facebook, Spotify, iTunes, iPods, iPads, and smart phones, radio reached 93% of all adults each week.

Last year in an article published in Forbes Magazine, marketing expert Dough Schoen talked about the state of radio today. “You wouldn’t know it from all the media coverage focused on streaming video and streaming music, says Mr. Schoen, “but recent Nielsen data shows radio actually has the most reach among American media consumers. 93% of adults listen to the radio each week as compared to 87% who watch TV, a substantive difference.”

Myth 2: Advertising on The Internet Delivers a Greater Return on Investment Than Advertising of Radio

Research giant Nielsen has produced 20 studies that demonstrate AM/FM radio can deliver what Ad Age magazine calls an “eye-popping return on investment.”  A recent study by the company produced similar results.  It revealed that a radio advertising campaign conducted by an auto-aftermarket retailer generated $21.00 of incremental sales for every $1.00 invested. Turning nickels into dollars.

In 2015, Amazon conducted its first ever Prime Day sale. The event was promoted by using internet ads, radio ads, and TV ads.  Research conducted by IPSOS US revealed that of those exposed to radio ads, 52% made a purchase. This compares with 48% of people who were exposed to ads online and 39% who saw the ads on TV.

According to the trade magazine Ad Age, these findings indicate that advertisers can expect higher returns-on-investment from radio versus TV, digital, or social media.

MYTH 3: The Best Place to Advertise On Radio Is During Morning Commute

Many budget minded business owners shy away from radio advertising because of this myth.  Based on demand from large advertisers, the price of commercials between 6am-7pm have been driven up. But, Shenandoah Valley small business owners on a budget can reach a station’s audience without paying the premium.

According to The Small Business Guide to Effective Radio Advertising, “On a typical radio station, 80% of the prime time audience can be reached at nighttime, overnights, and on the weekend.  Often times, the commercials during these times can cost 25% of what it costs to advertise during prime time.  The calculus is very attractive for a small business on a budget: reach 80% of a station’s audience for 25% of the price.  Now that’s good business.

MYTH 4: A Commercial Needs To Be Heard 3 Times To Be Effective

This inconceivable notion of the “rule of three” is rooted in research conducted in 1890 by Herman Ebbinghaus, a German psychologist.  Ebbinghuas studied how many rehearsals were necessary for his test subjects to memorize a list of nonsense syllables.  Flash forward to the mid-1960s.  Working from Ebbinghaus’s findings, Dr. Herman Krugaman, a public opinion researcher at General Electric developed a model of effective advertising.

In an article, Krugman explained that for a commercial to be effective it must attain three, and only three, levels of psychological exposure among the target audience. Quickly, however, Krugman’s model was transmogrified by misguided marketers from three psychological exposures to three media exposures.

Krugman himself was dismissive of the three exposure rule propagated by media practitioners. He said, “There is a myth in the advertising world that viewers will forget your message if you don’t repeat your advertising often enough. It is this myth that supports many large advertising expenditures…I would rather say the public comes closer to forgetting nothing they have seen [or heard]. They just put it out of their minds until and unless it has some use . . . and [then] the response to the commercial continues.”

So, the question remains, how many times must a radio commercial be heard before it is effective. Erwin Ephron, often considered to be the father of modern media planning, told Inside Media magazine, “Today serious students of advertising understand there is no formula answer to the effective frequency question. They believe most exposures are reminders so a single exposure, if relevant, can make the sale.”

A recent study by Nielsen, in fact, does indicate a single exposure to a local radio commercial could generate increased sales for a Shenandoah Valley small business owner.  The study also indicates, higher levels of frequency create an exponentially greater lift to sales.

According to Westwood One who commissioned the latest study, Nielsen matched its Portable People Meter panel with credit and debit card spending data in order to compare purchases of those exposed to the radio campaign with consumers who were not exposed. The results continue to demonstrate radio advertising’s jaw dropping ability to improve a business owner’s bottom line.

Although, as Mr. Ephron predicted, low levels of frequency did positively affect sales, the greatest sales lift derived from listeners who heard the retailer’s commercial 7+ times.

So, how much frequency is enough when advertising on Shenandoah Valley radio?  The more the better.

MYTH 5:  Phone Number Needs to Be Repeated 3 Times In Every Radio Commercial

Every time you use your phone number in your radio commercial, you consume 7 precious words of your 160 word allowance.  If you repeat it the number 3 times, then before you know it 13% of your commercial has been consumed by something that has a slim chance of being remembered. Research published in the New York Times and London Daily Telegraph reveals 9-out-of-10 people forget a phone numbers within 5 seconds of hearing it. The study goes on to reveal that 70% of people cannot remember their best friend’s phone number and 50% cannot remember their parents’ phone numbers. Instead of devoting a large portion of your commercial to your phone number, use a memorable web-address.  Almost 1/3 of all radio users report going each week to the website of a company they heard advertised on the radio.

To make the wisest decisions when investing in marketing and advertising, Shenandoah Valley small business owners need to look beyond the myths. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Science surpasses the old miracles of mythology.”

We hope this article has helped.