Frequently Asked Questions


Very few small business owners have any formal training in advertising and marketing. Many open a new business and then just “wing it.” More often than not, the results are disappointing. We specialize in helping local businesses grow through cost ­effective targeted advertising. With the right audience and enough frequency, your advertising dollars can provide a tangible return on investment. Our goal is to make your job easier by reaching enough of the right customers to positively impact your business. The secret formula for advertising success comes down to what you say times how many times you say it! We don’t just sell advertising. We produce marketing campaigns designed to help you grow your business. With that in mind, listed below are answers to several Frequently Asked Questions about advertising.  If you have additional questions, please email us.

Should I advertise?

To ward off increased competition and generate additional customers, advertising is a necessity. Because you can’t yell loud enough to let the entire area hear why they should do business with you, you need to select an advertising platform (radio, television, print, online, etc.). When you advertise, you’re buying an audience. We provide unique audiences so your advertising dollars aren’t wasted reaching people who are unlikely to do business with you while focusing on those who will!

Is radio right for me?

If people who listen to radio do business with you, then radio is a logical option … and 96% of us listen to the radio each week.

  • Radio can expand your market reach
  • Radio can target your best prospects
  • Radio can generate sufficient message frequency
  • Radio can reach mobile consumers
  • Radio can motivate people to shop
  • Radio can establish a relationship with customers
  • Radio can break through competitive clutter
  • Radio can make a lasting impression
  • Radio can maximize your advertising investment

If invented today, radio would be all the marketing rage. Why? Because we live in an on-the-go society, and unlike newspapers or television, radio is with us everywhere … in the car, in the office, at home, online, on mobile devices, and on smart speakers. Radio’s mobility, intrusiveness, and targeting ability makes it a cost-effective marketing platform for nearly any type of business.

How do I get started?

Research our website to answer basic questions. Then, contact us so we can perform a custom marketing analysis for you. After answering a series of questions and telling us what you want to accomplish, we can advise you on appropriate promotions or provide a custom marketing plan and demo ads.

How much does advertising cost?

We’re often asked, “how much does it cost to advertise on the Radio?” That’s like asking “how much does it cost to build a house?” The answer is “it depends.” How many bedrooms do you need? Do you want a fireplace? Tile floors or carpet? A carport or a two-car garage? Like building a house, many factors go into determining the cost of radio advertising. How many ads per day? 30-second or 60-second ads? How many times per day do you want to run them? For how long? And most importantly, how much of an impact do you want to make? In reality, a proper radio ad campaign does not cost you money – it makes you money! Call us for a free no-obligation consultation about how to increase your sales and profits with radio advertising. A comfortable budget while providing a sufficient Return On Investment can be determined through a marketing analysis.

What are the most frequent mistakes advertisers make?

1) Not filling up one cup before moving to the next. Many business owners think they need to do a little of everything instead of doing one thing well. It’s been said, “I throw my advertising dollars against the wall and hope some of it sticks.” Almost any business can get all the customers they need by simply attacking and owning a radio station’s audience. 2) Quitting before the advertising can work. Advertising is like trying to get in shape. The beginning is the hardest part, and the benefits truly begin when you think you’ve given your all. In order to get your desired body shape when working out, you must earn it by sticking to your plan. Successful advertising is no different.

I want to build my business, what do you suggest?

Be honest with your expectations and the investment you’re willing to make. Then call us to do an in-­person marketing analysis interview. We can then provide demo ads and a custom marketing plan that matches your goals and targeted demographics.

What’s the best way to advertise?

Unless you’re having a special event, continuous advertising yields the greatest long-term benefits. Not everyone needs your products or services today, so advertising for a month is a crapshoot. Reminding a large group of consumers who are most likely to do business with you about your unique selling position over and over is most beneficial. When any of our listeners need your product, our goal is to have your business in their top-of-mind recall.

How long does it take for advertising to begin working?

This depends on what you are selling and the offer you’re making. Tell people to visit you for a free $20 bill, and you’ll have a traffic jam outside your business. Otherwise, advertising is similar to pushing a car – it’s tough at first, but the more you push, the easier it gets. Soon enough, you can move the car along with minimum effort. We tell our large custom marketing plan clients, “In three months you’ll hate me, in six months you’ll talk to me and in 10 months you’ll be inviting me to your house for dinner.” Stick with your plan, and you’ll see a healthy return on investment.

What is TOMA?

TOMA (top-of-mind awareness) advertising yields great long-term benefits. Not everyone needs your products or services today, so advertising for a month is a crapshoot. Reminding a large group of consumers, who are most likely to do business with you, about your unique selling position over and over is most beneficial.

Which station is best for me?

Ask yourself, “What is the profile of the person most likely to do business with you?” Be specific. Now, match up that consumer by reviewing individual stations. Once you’ve discovered the right stations/audiences that are most likely to do business with you, contact us for a complete marketing analysis.

Who makes my commercial?

We do. And production is free. Our mission is to create top quality advertising that works. How? By listening to our clients to determine true needs and goals, and spending the time required to develop the right message. Crafting creative ads will make an impression in the mind of the listener. Employing the highest quality voice talent and producers can turn words on paper into magic! RadioAlabama’s modern digital production facilities help us create the best product. We believe our clients deserve the best we can give them, and it shows in our work.

What should I say in my commercial?

Ask yourself, “Why should someone do business with me?” Be specific. “What truly makes me a better choice than my competitors?” “What makes us special?” “What is our Unique Selling Position?” Take a look at your strengths versus your competitor’s weaknesses that can result in taking business from them. Our goal is to grow your business by getting you a larger share of the market’s dollars. A marketing analysis can help us fine-tune your message for the right audience(s).

How much is commercial production?

Both writing and production are free.

How can I guarantee success?

After ensuring your business is in fine operating order, stick to a well-constructed advertising theme month after month. If you deliver your message consistently to the right people, your advertising will yield rewarding results.

I’m a small business with a small budget – can I still advertise effectively?

Definitely. Contact us so we can suggest a plan of attack.

Do you have sales or specials?

Yes, special packages are always available. A RadioAlabama specialist will be happy to explain options.

I’m a retailer. What’s best for me?

Do you live and die by sales events, or do you want more consistency for your business? Sales event advertising can drive customers, but it’s the “caffeine of marketing.” The more sales you have, the more advertising you need. However, if you want a steady, non-fickle customer base, we recommend a more consistent approach.

I’m NOT a retailer, what’s best for me?

Consistency, consistency, consistency! Whether you’re a doctor, lawyer, or carpet cleaner, a well­-developed ad pushing your unique selling position will keep you in consumers’ minds when the day comes for them to need your services. We firmly believe the best approach is long-term consistency.

I’m having an event. How should I advertise?

Heavily. We recommend 15-20 ads a day for a minimum of three days prior to an event or major sale. For short-term impact, we recommend determining a budget and scheduling a minimum of one or two ads per hour from the time an event or sale starts scheduled backward until your budget is exhausted.

What about television and cable advertising?

Effective television advertising can get costly. Even the best ad couldn’t reach more than a few thousand cable homes compared to prospectively hundreds of thousands of people through our radio and digital networks.

What about newspaper advertising?

We’re not crazy about it. Some advertisers use print because it’s easy to write print ads, but circulation is down, local papers are no longer daily, and ad prices are unreasonably high. Newspapers were cool 20 years ago when we had time to sit and read a copy almost every day, yet newspapers simply can’t target your on-the-go customers.

What about the Yellow Pages?

According to most marketing experts, the Yellow Pages are dead. Most people get phone numbers online or by calling directory assistance. If you’re spending any money in the Yellow Pages, it’s like setting fire to your money.

What about internet advertising?

As part of a comprehensive advertising plan, well-done internet advertising can be the icing on the cake, and that’s why we’re also in the digital content and advertising business. It’s also important to understand that spending $10 on Facebook ads isn’t really advertising — it’s talking with friends of friends in a core network of people you already know. Call us for details.

What about billboards?

They’re a great way to say, “turn here,” or “next exit.” However, telling the story of your business’ benefits with just a few static words and a picture is difficult. Each is also quite costly — approximately $1,200 for vinyl production plus $900 per month, typically for three months. We don’t recommend them unless you have a really large budget and won’t need to update your message often.

What about other radio stations?

We’re big radio fans because of its targeting ability. If there’s an audience that we can’t provide for you through one or more of our five station brands, let us know, and we’ll provide any contact information you need.

Should I hire an advertising agency?

If your budget is sufficient to develop a complete multi-media approach with extensive creativity, perhaps, but for most local businesses, advertising agencies are typically too expensive.

Should I have a jingle?

A jingle can indeed bring your core message to life. If you’re willing to invest in a music image campaign, we’ll reward your commitment. Have one produced, become a custom marketing plan advertiser, and we’ll rebate your investment in bonus radio ads.

What’s a positioning statement?

All major companies use positioning statements. It’s a necessity. Walmart’s very effective positioning statement is “Always the lowest price, always”. This statement lets you know exactly what this business is about! You should use your positioning statement in all of your advertising. Just try to keep it short, and be sure it hits on your unique selling position.

What is image advertising?

When you advertise image, you’re establishing “mind share” and avoiding the “I’ve got to have a sale” syndrome. Establishing your unique selling position(s) with clarity, creativity, and consistency is at the heart of image advertising.

What is branding?

It’s establishing in consumers’ minds your unique selling position(s). It helps prospects understand why they should do business with you rather than your competitors.

How does a buying cycle affect my business?

We all have needs that create buying cycles. As a business owner, you want the consumer to think of you when they need your goods or services. A specific listener may not need an attorney, dishwasher, new sidewalk, or retirement plan today. But, what about those who need these items next month … or next year? Create your business as a point-of-destination in the mind of the consumer. When they have forgotten about your competitor’s ad minutes after they pass over it in print, you’ll be there to tell them your story, repeatedly, with consistency, day after day. That’s how you create top-of-mind awareness, and that’s how to fight through a consumer’s buying cycle.

Should I do a ‘remote’ (live on-site broadcast)?

Live broadcasts are great for grabbing attention for a major event or sale. Our radio stations provide talent, engineering, and great visibility. In most cases, weekend broadcasts are booked a month or more in advance. Contact us to check on available dates and times.

What are reach and frequency?

Advertising terms calculate how many people you’ll touch with your commercial (reach) and how often they’ll hear that message (frequency). Research shows if you can reach two-thirds of a radio station’s audience 3.5 times each, your ad will break through and be heard. Contact us, and we’ll compute the number of ads you need to achieve exceptional reach and frequency.

What’s a ‘Custom Needs Analysis’?

This is the worksheet used to discover your needs and find out how we can help you achieve your marketing goals. A Radio Alabama specialist will meet with you one-on-one for a free, no-obligation review.

What’s a ‘Custom Marketing Plan’?

It’s the recap we provide after you’ve completed a marketing analysis. Custom Marketing Plans are free and provide our recommendations on how to best achieve advertising success based exclusively on your goals and needs.

What’s a radio demographic?

It’s a group or cell of the population that listens to one or more of our stations. Our goal is to match your targeted demographic (target prospects/customers) to one or more of our matching stations.

What are your payment terms/credit policies?

We accept cash, check, or credit cards. We are also pleased to extend payment terms with approved credit.

Do I have to sign a contract?

Signing off on your approval to run an advertising campaign is standard procedure, although they’re maybe a few exceptions.  It protects you with a low rate guarantee and provides written permission and consent for us to promote your business.

I tried radio once, and it didn’t work. Why would it work this time?

We go through a regimented process including a needs analysis, custom marketing plan, and creative demo ads.  This process puts all the odds for success in your favor.  Our specialists are trained not to be good salespeople but intelligent marketers.  Suggesting a campaign that does not work is as unacceptable to us as it is to you.

What is co-op advertising?

It’s advertising paid partially by you and partially by one of your vendors.  For instance, you may carry a new widget from Acme Company, and Acme might pay 50% or more of your advertising bill for sharing time in your ads.  Contact your vendors and ask if you have co-op dollars available.

Do you have any success stories?

We do.  Ask and we’ll be happy to share them!

I don’t have a large budget. What do you suggest?

First, meet with one of our specialists. We can help you set reasonable expectations and work within your budget.

What is drive time?

Morning drive is typically 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., and afternoon drive is 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p..m. The other primary radio “dayparts” are mid-day, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and evenings, 7:00 p.m. to midnight.  Although drive time rates are available, the most cost-effective rates are ROS (Run Of Station plan), where your ad is heard equally in all four primary dayparts, including drive times.

Should I advertise during nights and weekends?

It’s not cost-effective to “anchor” your ads only in drive times. When our clients buy “BTA/ROS”, their ads run equally in all dayparts, including drive times.

Attacking a night and weekend audience is a great way to stretch a small advertising budget. For example, think of the hundreds of possible customers you could easily influence who work night and weekend shifts at hospitals and plants in our area and the hundreds who are running errands on the weekends — imagine all those car radios turned on. Plus, there’s less advertising in the evening and weekends, which means your commercial will be noticed even more than usual.

What is a ‘Unique Selling Position’?

It’s the primary reason why you are truly a better choice for the consumer than your competition.

Is there a charge for a Business Development Specialist to meet with me for a marketing analysis?

Never. And there’s no obligation.

Why are your advertising sales specialists called ‘Business Development Executives?’

Our team has been trained to help clients develop their businesses through effective marketing campaigns. They’re not here merely to sell you advertising because that’s not what we are about.  We’re here to help you sell your stuff!

Should I advertise with your stations on-air or online?

Ideally, both. Everyone listens to the radio, and everyone is online in one form or another, and that’s why we do both with cross-promotion — driving radio listeners to our content sites and online audiences to our radio stations. While your radio ads inform and maintain “TOMA”, our online display ads reinforce them and help drive traffic to your website and your door.

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