Five Ways to Waste Your Direct Response Radio Advertising Dollars

direct response radio advertising

Direct response radio advertising isn’t a new media format, like so many of the other direct response options marketers have today.

Still, a lot of professionals struggle to make this particular type of advertising work for their clients, wasting countless dollars and even more time trying to get valuable products and offers in front of a public that would love to have them.

Although there will be plenty of advertisers who waste their direct response radio budget this year, a huge percentage could be spared this fate if they would only take the time to consider these five ways they are wasting their radio dollars:

  1. Running ads that are too short. If you take advice from people selling radio spots, you will certainly be finished before you start. These well-meaning professionals like to sell 30-second advertising spots because they’re much easier to place and will typically see more play than a 60-second spot. However, it takes time to craft the right message for direct response radio advertising, and 30 seconds is not always enough. Your call to action and phone number (repeated twice, slowly) should take up about 15 seconds, the rest of that time must be spent connecting to your new customer base.
  1. Leaving out the CTA (Call to Action). Other marketers are afraid to let anyone know that they’ve actually just heard a commercial. Instead of being told to “call now” or visit a particular website, interested audiences are instead left alone with the static of the radio. By giving listeners particular steps to follow to get more information or order the latest product, you let them know exactly how to contact you, and what they should be doing next. Many customers will not take the initiative to call or email on their own, and they usually need more direct prompting.
  1. Turning into background noise. Running short ads will set you up for disaster, but so will running your longer ads too frequently. As your sales pitch goes on and on, you risk turning your advertising campaign into a white noise machine. Instead, spread those ads out and only play them during times when your target demographic is sure to be listening. If you are trying to get the attention of mothers with young children, playing your ads during their drive to and from school will be much more productive and less costly than running those ads in every available spot, where they will just fade into the background.
  1. Using confusing sales tactics better fit for other mediums. Radio is a medium unlike any other in our modern world. It’s the only link we still have to our advertising ancestors, but in a way it is a medium that we as marketers simply do not understand anymore. Remember that your customers cannot see what you are trying to sell them, so straightforward tactics work better than anything. Too many rapid changes in tone, lots of background noises and artsy techniques are best left for other mediums, they are simply too confusing for a two-dimensional medium like radio.
  1. Touting features, not benefits. A common problem for advertisers across many mediums is pushing the features of a product without reaching into the deeper and more emotional benefits that come with them. In direct response radio, this tactic is so much more important, since you will need to reach your audience with nothing but words in a relatively short period of time. Instead of telling your demographic how many buttons your toaster has, demonstrate for them a scenario where the bagel toasting setting can help speed up breakfast preparation during a frantic morning before work. Marketers are often surprised at how much better their ROI becomes when they simply change their approach from toting features to exploring benefits.

Radio is far from a dead medium, and in fact it can be an extremely lucrative way to directly reach a specific demographic. The trick is to remember that radio is much different than other mediums. By being direct with your audience, making an emotional connection right away and giving them very specific instructions about contacting you, the money you spend on direct response radio advertising may quickly become the best investment of your marketing career.


Your browser is out of date. It has security vulnerabilities and may not display all features on this site and other sites.

Please update your browser using one of modern browsers (Google Chrome, Opera, Firefox, IE 10).