207-Huh? Phone Numbers Have No Place in Portland Radio Commercials

TPortland_Radio_Maine_Small_Business_Phone_Numberhe typical commercial on Portland radio comprises 160 words.  If a commercial costs $100, then that means a commercial cost 62-cents per word.  So the cost of putting a 7 digit phone number in a radio commercial is $4.34 each time the number is included.   Since research indicates that hardly anyone will remember it. That makes putting a phone number in a radio commercial is the worst advertising investment a Maine small business can make. 

According to studies published in the New York Times and London Daily Telegraph, 9-out-of-10 people forget a phone numbers within 5 seconds of hearing it. The studies go on to reveal that 70% of people cannot remember their best friend’s phone number and 50% cannot remember their parents’ phone numbers. So why would any Portland Maine business think a radio listener will remember their number?

Where Is The Disconnect

Cellphones and the internet are partially to blame for our inability to remember phone numbers. In a New York Time article, this forgetablity is explained by Elizabeth Loftus is a professor at the University of California, Irvine, who studies memory. In the days when you made a phone call by dialing, she said, that action “provided an active rehearsal of the information,” essential for committing information to long-term memory. Before digital address books, she said, “you might be exposed to a phone number hundreds of times. But now you just look it up. Technology has taken that rehearsal process away from us.”

A better use of word-count in a commercial is to utilize a web address instead of a phone number.  Research by the Radio Advertising Bureau indicates that every week 32% of listeners are driven to an advertiser’s website from information embedded in radio ads. And unlike most businesses, websites are open 24 hours per day.  If a phone number must be used, then it should be easy to remember or translate to words that are consistent with the marketing message of the advertiser (e.g., 1-800-Flowers).

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