Radio’s lowest rates of the year historically come in January, when the holiday retailers fly off with Santa’s sack of money. That leaves many terrestrial stations playing “Another 10 songs in a row!” or taking an extra listener phone call since there are fewer commercials sold.
To prepare, many direct response advertisers fly under the radar from September to December, testing variations on their offer and creative to see which ones get the best ROI. And once they learn which commercials are most effective – and which programs and formats yield the best returns – they’re in perfect position to swoop in and purchase “the best of the best” media in January/February, when advertising rates are typically at their lowest.
New media platforms now make it easier to test in a controlled testing environment without breaking the bank. Let say, for example, that you believe that The Glenn Beck would be a good fit for your product targeting Men 35-54. Without risking large sums “testing” across the hundreds of stations that carry Beck’s show coast-to-coast, you could invest a fraction of that budget – and still get national buying efficiencies – purchasing time on Glenn Beck’s show on Sirius XM Satellite this fall. If the results are good, then you could scale to Beck’s national AM/FM network in the winter when more avails (at better rates) will likely be available.
Personalized radio services like Pandora also enable you to “test small” before you ramp big. You can spread a budget nationally (high reach, low frequency), locally (low reach, high frequency) or test both approaches in the fall. Then, when you see “what works,” you can scale your Pandora campaign regionally or nationally with just a week’s notice.
But aside from managing variables in media placement, testing under the radar enables you to test a variety of creative approaches, where even a simple turn of a phrase can impact response rate. For instance, “Buy one, get one free” is the same as “Two-for-one” is the same as “Get 50% off.” Yet, one phrasing will outperform the other two. Find out which one. And then increase your media bankroll.
Test late summer through fall. And then own the airwaves in January, when rates are low and consumers are making resolutions to improve their lives. It’s the perfect marriage of market conditions and opportunity. Make plans now.