If you are contemplating a radio buy one of the first things to consider is whether or not you are looking to brand a manufacturer, cause, support a dealer or announce an event. If I have a client that is simply looking to hit as many people as possible to brand their product or push their cause—I like looking at the given state I’m buying in and see if there is a statewide news or “radio network.” They are easy to find, and I think every state has a group that gets airtime on a lot of radio stations. Just Google “Statewide Radio Network” and add the state you’re looking at and something will pop up in the first four or five hits.
Take Minnesota, for instance. They have the Minnesota News Network that has short segments of air time on about 80 different stations in the state. A person can buy a 30 or 60 second spot that hits all the stations for about $500 a full-run. So, for $500, you deliver a 30-second message to all the 80 stations from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
A person can also buy groups within the network that might work better for their client. For instance, I just bought a group within the statewide network for stations that were within 20 miles of a navigable water way for a pontoon boat company that wanted to reach people living on lakes or close to lakes. This buy was good because it worked for the client and it saved me the time of having to call every radio station in the state that was close to a lake or river.
These buys save clients a ton of money instead of buying each individual station because they buy in bulk. A word of caution: you don’t have the ability to pick the exact time you want a spot to air or have any real opportunity at getting interviews from the local disk jockey about your product or event.
A person also can save money and time by buying from the local group of stations owned by one parent company. Some examples in your area might be iHeartRadio (formerly Clear Channel), or Cumulas, or others. Maybe a host of a radio program has 20 different stations carrying his or her program? These situations mean that a person can buy groups of stations that often times have demographics that are favorable for the client you are buying for. For instance, in Wisconsin, Dan Small has several affiliates that carry his hunting and fishing show. In Michigan, maybe it’s Mike Avery. These guys give me the ability to make one buy that hits several stations in one shot, at a cheaper rate, to a market I know doesn’t have a lot of wasted listeners. I can’t make that same claim when buying a sports station, that only has 60 percent of their listeners being hunters.
Another advantage of buying with a larger group is that they often times have their act together in terms of having the ratings, from Tapscan or another group, that has demographics that help explain the type of listener, age, household income, and other information that is pertaining to my buy. Not every station subscribes to this service.
Larger groups also are able to offer discounts for running on several of their stations. One Clear Channel group I buy with often in Wisconsin has the number one Classic Rock station, the number one Country Station, the number one talk radio station, and the number one sports-talk station—that is a no brainer buy. It saves the client money and me, time.
Don’t get me wrong—there are times where buying smaller independent stations makes sense. Sometimes there is no clear-cut group of stations that is the market bully. In this case, take the time to call on several stations and micro-manage the buy to exactly fit your needs. These smaller stations also are hungry, so they may offer more added value in extra spots, remotes, or giveaways to get your business. The clear market winners know they are the big dogs in town and are less willing to work for your dollar (sometimes) so occasionally it actually makes more sense to buy with the number two station in the market, vs. the number one, because the smaller audience station will give you twice the number of spots than the larger station and frequency is key with all types of advertising.