How Maine Small Business Owners Can Get Stuck in People’s Heads

Portland Radio Maine Small Business Advertising Jingle EffectiveIf you listened to Portland radio last week, just like 93% of everyone else, then you probably know this phone number: 1-877-Kars-4-Kids.

I can’t speak for you, but I can’t get the sound of those cute little kids singing the company jingle out of my head.

Stuck in a prospective customer’s head. That’s a place every Maine small business owner yearns to be. A jingle is a great way to get there.

Kars-4-Kids is a charity that encourages people to turn old cars into charitable contributions.

According to Billboard, the bible of the music industry, the Kars-4-Kids jingle drives results. The magazine reported, in 2016, that the repetition of the jingle was credited with increasing donations by 50% over the previous year. What Maine Small business owner wouldn’t want to have similar increases?


Scientists have a name for it, “Earworms” or Involuntary Music Imagery (INMI). And it’s why jingles work.

According to neurologist Oliver Sacks (Robin Williams played him in the movie Awakenings), earworms are the evidence of “the overwhelming, and at times, helpless sensitivity of our brains to music”. Researchers at Dartmouth and The University of Cincinnati have discovered that earworms thrive in our “phonological loop”, a short-term memory system located in the brain’s audio cortex.

According to the Quad, Boston University’s online magazine, the auditory cortex is located in the temporal lobe, an area of the brain affiliated with short-term memory, specifically verbal short-term memory.

Portland Radio Maine Small Business Jingle Advertising Ear Worm

The phonological loop is best described as a “short loop of recording tape that continuously stores a small amount of auditory information,” such as the chorus of a song. While most information is processed and then forgotten or stored as long term memory, songs appear to remain in the short-term memory for a longer period of time.

Dr. James Kellaris of the University of Cincinnati believes a cause for the earworms’ endurance may be that “certain pieces of music [jingles] may have properties that excite an abnormal reaction in the brain.” These extraordinary qualities compel the attention of the brain, forcing it to repeat the song in the phonological loop. Similarly, Kellaris has found that the repetition does not remove the song [jingle] from the phonological loop, but increases the length of its presence, thus creating the cognitive itch.

Earworms Are A Function of Repetition

“The effectiveness of a jingle is a function of number of exposures, but the magic number depends on the complexity of the information to be learned,” Kellaris said.

“The magic number is also hard to determine because if the jingle becomes an earworm, it will benefit from free air time inside people’s heads.” Kellaris goes on to say, “A good jingle is not necessarily one that people like,” said Kellaris. “A good jingle is one that does the job for which it is designed, such as … burning a phone number into brains.”

Jingle Jams For Maine Small Business Owner

Scott Libby, owner of Freeport, Maine based, Royal River Heat Pumps has propelled his Maine small business forward by using Portland radio and a jingle.

When you ask Mr. Libby what he does for a living, he won’t say he sells heat pumps. He tells anyone who asks, though, “I am a marketer. My company sells and installs heat pumps, but it’s my job to make the phone ring,”

To market Royal River Heat Pumps, the company started using print advertising with some success. “But,” says Mr. Libby, “Every time I would turn on the radio I would hear one of my competitors. So, I decided, reluctantly, that I would try it, too.

According to Mr. Libby, who embedded a whopping earworm of a jingle in his radio ad, he began to see results immediately.

Radio Ad Recall Was Immediate

“Twice in the same week,” says Mr. Libby, “I showed up at new-home construction sites. When the builders, who I never met before, introduced me to their crews, the workers immediately began singing my radio jingle. I knew right then radio was working.”

Contractors and builders have contributed greatly to the success of Royal River Heat Pumps. Mr. Libby says, “They are a strong source for referrals and repeat business. When a contractor recommends us to a homeowner, that comes with a huge amount credibility.  Our [radio ads] keeps us top of mind when it comes time for them to refer us.”

As important as contractors are to Mr. Libby’s success, the majority of his sales comes directly from homeowners. His radio advertising is working there, too.

Customers Remember Radio Ad Word-For Word

“I went on one sales call to meet a married couple at their home,” say Mr. Libby. “The husband told me about how he and his wife sing the radio jingle together when it comes on. I offered them a small discount if they would sing it for me right then, which they did. To my surprise, with the exception of a few words here-and-there, they got it right.”

As the husband and wife were singing Mr. Libby knew, his ad recall among radio listeners was high. “Our radio advertising makes us more than just a service provider. It makes us fun and memorable.”

To measure the effect Portland radio has on his sales, Mr. Libby allows his cash register keep score. Noting that his sales doubled during his first year of advertising, he proclaimed, “Radio is second to none.”

More Advice For Maine Small Business Owners

Portland Radio Maine Small Business Guide To Advertising