Small business advertising budgets are always going to be tight, but even more so in times of austerity when business-2-business contracts being reined in and consumer spending expected to continue falling.

Traditional radio advertising is still as important as social media marketing but with the belts being tightened the prospect of advertising within a prime time TV show is minimal, but this is more readily available on radio. There are only two problems though with broadcast radio advertising.

  • It is a long-term investment unless your small business or niche is already in demand
  • It is still  more expensive than social media marketing

Unfortunately costs are something that it will be hard to gauge. Radio advertising costs are usually quoted by how many listeners they expect to have at a certain point of time. If you advertise in the middle of a breakfast show, the cost of radio advertising will increase in line with that.

There is the solution to your problem though; it's not getting a big audience once that's the skill, it's using something special to get them remembering you.

How often do you

Consider the last prime time show that you watched; X-Factor? Downtown Abbey? Big Brother?

Did you remember getting certain adverts in the advertising? This actually does not include the sponsorship of X-Factor by TalkTalk and their amateur home video clips. The same principle applies on the radio but the saturation of the schedule is much less specific with many radio stations enjoying a spread across the workday; the breakfast commute, the work day office and even in the bath after a long day in the office.

The natural development of the radio broadcasting medium means that advertising also has a very different impact about how active people are listening. Television is very much a dedicated event with both audio and visual prompts. A recent straw poll suggests that there is still a high listenership in the places such as the car and office where radio is additional to the task; ironically 25% in the poll also said that they listen to radio via their digital TV.

Thankfully for the small business help is at hand. Radio advertising is often in-house, with advertising staff who will help you write and record your advert. This means that you have the assistance of someone with a bit of experience and with a few of your free samples and talking about your business can get you the best from your radio advertising.

There are a few tips though, that if your radio advertising contact is not asking you; you should be asking why:

* Naming the brand in radio advertising

If your adverts only mentions your brand at the start, then you won't be remembered. The nature of live radio means that it would be difficult for youraudience to review (rewind if you prefer) a live broadcast to find the name of a small business on an advert. Considering that radio is listened to passively instead of the active watching of television, it is vitally important that your brand is imprinted as many times as you can get away with.

With the examples of TV showing that repetition is often the key; mentioning your small business by name should be considered at least towards the start and at the end of your radio advertising, and consideration given to a third mention in the middle of adverts that are longer.

* Keeping any radio advertising offers simple

You need to focus on a single brand or product. One audio broadcast example I have come across recently is on a train:

A buffet is available on board today selling tea, coffee and hot chocolate; fruit juice, still water and fizzy soft drinks; sandwic .... lagers, bitters, ciders, wines and spirits. Our special offer today is: etc, etc, etc

The more you describe things, the more your perspective customer switches off:

Your buffet is open and serving. We have today a sandwich & coffee for £2, soft drinks, snacks and a selection of beers, wines and spirits. The buffet is in carriage 4.

It is the same in radio advertising. If an advert is reading a long or complex list of offers or items it will confuse the listener and cause them to mentally switch off until something more interesting comes on. When you consider an advert that appeared both on tv and radio advertising; "You Buy One, You Get One Free; You Buy One, You Get One Free". I am not one to buy windows on a regular basis, however having a pirate shouting it at you on a regular enough basis will help you remember that the phone number is 0800 106 107, even if it is repeated twice in quick succession. For those of your not into your UK TV and radio advertising, we are talking about a company called Safestyle UK.

In many cases a small business will not have an extensive product range unless already considerably established and for an effective ad, focusing on a single offer might be considered the best way forward.

* How are you contactable?

The Office(76349)Putting every contact detail and an advert in a 30 second radio advert is hard work. Is your trade more personable? What is your trade more likely to attract? Sticking to your two most expected methods of contact is probably enough; whether you have older generations wanting to deal with you face-to-face or a more "virtual office" by URL and 03700 number. If you consider a small business, then one of the following is likely to apply:

  1. The very personable service such as a restaurant: Location and Phone Number.
  2. The shop to buy goods: Location and Website.
  3. The "virtual" arms length tertiary service: Website and phone number.

With that being said there a few issues that a small business using radio advertising needs to be wary of. If a website URL will be used then it should be reasonably connected to the business and short enough to remember; such as or If you hosting a website on a free service or your ISP then the emphasis on any radio advertising will be lost under the "" or the "". A long URL with dominance away from your business is bad news on radio advertising where you have to be quick and to the point:

"Come; Make Money; Write On"


Who will help you?

Your radio agency or station contact should be able to already have a reasonable answer to these three questions and more; just by knowing the core facts about your small business. The best results will be gained by listening to your contact and encourage them to work with you. This can be done in the traditional business advertising way by getting them interested in your small business; a gift or product associated with your company, maybe a meal for them and their partner in your restaurant.

It should be remembered that your advert is still a business arrangement. The same level of care should be given to the agent who handles your purchase as you would one of your own customers. This may become a contract arrangement over a year or more; in fact it has already been mentioned that radio advertising is a long haul, even for it to be effective for the small business.

An Audio SuiteCredit: can produce your adverts independently. There are both online and printed resources out there if you think you need more than the three bullet points above for a starting point; readily available from libraries (for an intensive short-term brush up) or from most bookshops and online retailers.

You may also have contacts within a local college or university. Media students may be looking to head into radio broadcasting and see benefits in helping you build and produce your radio advert for their portfolio, while giving you a reasonable product that you can offer to radio stations or a radio agency. Remember as we mentioned above, not all local radio stations will offer this in house and therefore supplying your own may get you either an attentive agent or a discount on your radio advertising.

As you can see, there is a wealth to a radio advertising that some think is a slowly dying format. All the while there is a radio in a car or an office otherwise silent; there is an opportunity in radio advertising for the small business to get on the airwaves and promote their product or service.