Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote in one of his Tarzan books, “We are, all of us, creatures of habit.” I am no exception. Every weekday morning at around 7:33am, with my radio blasting, I pull my car into the exact same space in front of the Starbucks in South Portland, Maine. I invariably always see the same cars parked next to me. So much so that I know their license plates by heart (I’m talking to you CDM 9126). When I go inside, I see the same people sitting at the same tables…only the headlines of their newspaper have changed from the day before. I walk up to the same barista who asks, “Your usual?” She doesn’t really wait for my response before she rings it into the cash register and scrapes up the $5.13 that I already had waiting on the counter.
We Listen To The Radio At The Same Time Every Day
Radio listeners are pretty much the same. The typical listener will spend almost 15 hours glued to their radio next week and at pretty much at the exact same time they listened to last week. Think of yourself. Your clock radio wakes you up most mornings at the same time with the same station. You climb into the car, adjust the mirrors, tune to your favorite station, and head to work at the same time. “We are, all of us, creatures of habit.”
Knowing that same people listen to the same radio stations at the same time every day can be quite useful to the small business marketers and advertisers in Maine. This especially true when the business needs to fulfill a branding objective.
There Are Only Two Types Of Marketing Objectives
Just to refresh your memory. To advertise on radio effectively, the business must first establish a marketing objective. According to the Small Business Guide To Effective Radio Advertising there are only types of marketing objectives:
Branding objectives are used when you want your target consumer to believe something about your product or service. An example of a branding objective could be: Get working mothers to believe that my daycare service is the safest place in town to entrust their children.
Promotion objectives are used when you want your target consumer to take specific action. An example of a promotion objective could be: Get people who maintain their own cars to buy 3 quarts of motor oil at my store this weekend.
Since branding requires creating or changing a belief within the mind of consumer, that consumer will need to be exposed to a message with great regularity. Think of it this way, if you were happy with your child’s current daycare but its competitor wanted you to believe they were the safer option for your child. How many times would you have to hear the competitor’s message before you would consider changing? Obviously, you would have to hear it a lot. This is where the Starbuck’s lesson comes into play.
It’s Called Frequency
If the advertiser’s objective is branding, then the same people need to be exposed to the same message over-and-over again to be effective. Therefore, the best strategy would be broadcast the commercial during the same radio stations during the same time periods every day. So if one of Starbuck’s competitors wanted me to believe that their venti-no-fat-no-foam-extra-shot peppermint-mocha-lattes was better, than they would need to meet me in my car just before 7:33am every morning and do a lot of convincing. In advertising lingo we call this “frequency”.
More Is Better
So now, the question becomes, how much frequency is enough. There is an invasive myth in advertising circles that exposing a message to a consumer three times during a purchase cycle is sufficient. Just like most myths and urban legends, this bares little truth. According to the article, 3 Times A Charm? A Myth Understanding About Radio Advertising, there is no actual number. As a matter of fact, Erwin Ephron, often considered to be the father of modern media planning, told Inside Media magazine, “Today serious students of advertising understand there is no formula answer to the effective frequency question.” The only thing we know for sure: more frequency is better.
Learn More About Effective Radio Advertising in Maine
Download The Free Maine Small Business Guide To Effective Radio Advertising