Creating Ad Campaigns That Drive Sales For Maine Small Business Owners

Portland Radio Maine Small Business Owner Couple With Cash Money.pngMaine small business owners depend on Portland radio stations to successfully advertise and market their goods and services.

Among the radio advertising faithful are Cathy Manchester of Keller-Williams Realty in Gray and Scott Libby of Royal River Heat Pumps in Falmouth. Both business owners have credited their commercials on Southern Maine stations with doubling sales at their respective companies.

Nielsen, the research company that is able to link advertising campaigns to sales results, recently analyzed which elements of an advertising campaign have the greatest effect on growth. The research found that ad-creative and reach are the primary sales drivers.


Portland Radio Maine Small Business Advertising


Ad creative contributes the most to sales lift. That will be discussed in-depth a little further down in this article. But, let’s talk about the number two success driver first: Reach.

When it comes to reach, advertising on Portland radio has no equal. Last week, 699,315 adult consumers tuned into a local radio station. This substantively more than watched local TV, read a local newspaper or magazine, and streamed audio content on the internet.

Portland Radio Maine Small Business Consumer Reach

As important as reach is to the success of an advertising campaign, it only contributes 22% to sales lift. The real star of an advertising campaign is the creative which is responsible for 47% of sales lift.

To help Maine business owners to create radio ads that sell, with permission, I am repurposing a recent article by Pierre Bouvard. Mr. Bouvard was formerly President of Arbitron (now a Nielsen Company) and currently Director of Insights for Cumulus Media.


Here are best practices for achieving creative success and moving the sales needle through sound. We reviewed creative insights from the Radio Advertising Bureau, audio ad testing specialist VERITONIC, MARU/Vision Critical, and Nielsen to inform these tips.

The Message

The Radio Ad Effectiveness Lab tells us what we all know to be true: “Radio listening is a one-on-one and emotions-driven experience.” Listening is done in the car or through headphones, making it an intimate media interaction. Because of this, attention doesn’t have to be fought for. Messages can be communicated thoughtfully and strategically.

Have a conversation, don’t shout: Use this intimate experience as a way to have a conversation with consumers. Don’t yell, shout, or sound too scripted. AM/FM radio is personal so treat it as such.

Communicate benefits: Real, tangible benefits are important to convey. Communicate brand and product benefits early and often in creative to persuade listeners.

The first five seconds matter: According to Nielsen, “Consumer engagement drops off after the first 5 seconds.” So clearly communicate a brand’s name and key message upfront. Be entertaining but don’t waste time.

The longer the ad, the greater the impact: A recent MARU/Vision Critical survey found that on average, listeners find longer ads to be more likeable.

Brand early and often: Sean Bryan, Co-Chief Creative Officer at McCann New York states, “We feel a brand and understand a brand with our ears first.” Use branding audio to raise the profile of the advertiser and influence consumer consideration. Compared to offer ads, brand campaigns build share more strongly over both the short and long term.

Tell a story with emotion: Sound is emotional so be relatable. Make radio creative relevant by putting listeners first and engaging with them through a personal, human experience. Emotion-based ads drive higher sales and profit.

The Media

How can the context of when and where ads run enhance impact? Every radio format has loyalists who listen to that programming the most. Incorporating elements of the format into creative boosts sales effect. Aligning copy to the time of day and consumer state of mind also enhances advertising effectiveness.

Fit the radio station programming format: Country listeners are different than rock listeners. Create different versions of ads based on programming format. Target creative to your listeners so ads sound native to their chosen listening environment.

Align to consumer purchase mindset: One of AM/FM radio’s superpowers is its ability to influence purchase decisions during key buying windows. That includes when consumers are in their car traveling to and from stores, during lunchtime, or seasonal moments like the back-to-school months. Apply an appropriate call to action to reach consumers when it is most relevant.

The Tools

Audio creative components work together to form a cohesive and creative radio spot. Don’t overlook any detail. Pay attention to music, sound effects, personalities, and the audience itself.

Use music for branding: Music and sound are powerful, triggering an emotional response through audible familiarity. According to sonic branding experts Man Made Music, “If music creates emotion, what we see is brand favorability increases, brand consideration increases, metrics that really apply directly to ROI.” Utilize a consistent theme to develop a brand anthem that will be tied to the brand values you want to convey.

Create a sonic logo: VERITONIC, audio creative testing specialist, tells us that sonic logos with a melody and words are very compelling. Use jingles or distinct sonic cues to create memorable creative.

Leverage the appeal and trust of radio personalities: AM/FM radio personalities matter to listeners. 52% say that the main reasons they choose to listen to their favorite station are their favorite DJs, personalities, and shows, according to a MARU/Vision Critical study. Trusted voices in creative provide immediate credibility, endorsement, and relevance to listeners.

Target your core audience: Familiar voices resonate. For example, Nielsen finds that women prefer female voiceovers in AM/FM radio ads. Make sure you make an impact with your desired demographic by using them as a starting point. Listener preference should inform voice talent and copy.

You already have their attention. Hold onto it. Find the connection point between the message, the media, and the tools to develop creative that is more effective and drives sales. After all, creative represents 50% of sales growth.

More Advice For Maine Small Business Owners


Click here to read more great articles and insights from Pierre Bouvard