Best Practices for Working with your Radio Agency

Written By

SMI Staff

Published On

Thursday, Mar 13

If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you’re either currently working with a radio advertising agency or you’re considering working with a radio advertising agency in the future. We believe that the relationship between a client and a radio agency should be that of a partnership. And in this kind of partnership, both parties are working toward the same goal, which is the client’s success. No matter which way you measure it, the success of your campaign is greatly impacted by the quality and nature of the relationship between you and your radio advertising agency. Here are some of what we would say are “best practices” for working with your radio agency that will help you and your radio agency bring to fruition the greatest possible potential of your radio advertising campaign.

Do you NEED an Agency?

Although this seems like a quite obvious question, the answer as to whether or not it serves your best interest to work with a radio advertising agency can be tricky. The question of whether or not the success of your radio advertising efforts would be enhanced by working with an agency should be carefully examined before entering into a relationship with any radio advertising agency. A few questions you should ask yourself: What are the specific goals of my radio advertising campaign? What kind of markets would best help me reach my goals? What kind of advertising budget makes the most sense for my radio campaign, given my target market and goals? If you’re running a small, locally based business and you’re looking to reach a very local target audience (say within a 10-15 mile radius of your company), working with a national radio advertising agency may not be to your advantage. In the case of small businesses, with a very centralized target base, it’s unlikely that working with a national radio advertising agency would be the most efficient way to add radio to your marketing mix. On the other hand, if you own or operate a mid to large sized company, you are willing to commit at least $10K to invest in testing radio advertising, and you can handle the significant volume of new customers that results from the larger scale of radio advertising across national markets, working with a radio advertising agency could be the key to your success in building a profitable radio advertising campaign.

Agency Processes – What to Expect 

Once you begin to work with your radio agency, it’s likely that you’ll notice a certain process is in place to officially launch your campaign. The first step in the process (in just about any advertising agency) will be to complete some form of a Campaign Brief, which is a document that outlines the specific objectives and goals of your radio advertising campaign. It is in this document that you’ll express items such as the metrics you’ll use to measure the success of your campaign, information about your product and/or service, and insight on your target audience. Both the media team and creative team at your radio agency will use this information to build a successful radio advertising campaign for your business. Many radio advertising agencies have Account Executives on staff, who will act as your main contact throughout your radio advertising campaign. You’ll very likely speak with this person immediately after you become partners with your agency, and they will guide you through each step of your campaign. Usually, you’ll work first with the creative team to develop radio ads that have potential to drive strong response. In the meantime, you’ll be working with the radio media department at your radio agency to develop a strategic media plan for your radio advertising campaign. Once you have made it through the creative and media processes, your radio spot will air. If you’re working with a direct response radio advertising agency, your first flight will be viewed as a test – a starting point from which you’ll learn which combination of messaging and media placement is the most effective for your product, service or brand. From there (depending on the outcome of your test) you and your radio agency will either decide whether or not to scale your existing campaign (also known as “rolling out”). Alternatively, the decision could be made to continue testing messaging and media variables in order to learn and optimize which combination is best.

Things you should NEVER DO

Lastly, there are certain things as a client that you should avoid while working with your radio agency. Certain actions and/or attitudes can greatly hinder the success of your radio advertising campaign. Recall the beginning of this post, where the relationship between a client and their radio agency is described as a partnership. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to lack trust in your agency. Very simply, if you don’t trust the expertise of a radio advertising agency, do not hire them. If you hire them, trust them. Particularly in direct response radio advertising, the agency has a lot of skin in the game early on. If your campaign does not reach “roll out” status, the agency loses a lot of money. No radio advertising agency is profitable from testing. It is only when campaigns achieve some level of success, measured by size and duration that a radio agency begins to be a viable business.

None of this is meant to imply that you should blindly follow each and every recommendation your radio agency makes. If your radio advertising agency is experienced and knowledgeable, and you feel you’ve done a thorough job of partnering with them to ensure they fully understand your company, offering and customers, then it is generally in your best interest to follow their advice on creative development and media placement. That is, after all, what your radio agency is there for – to provide you with the best advice and recommendations possible based on their deep and broad experience. There is no personal agenda or motivation to “be right”; rather it is solely the best interest of client success that drives the recommendations of excellent radio advertising agencies.

Keep in mind that your radio advertising agency will typically know the kinds of calls to action that work in your business category. They’ll likely know the stations and day parts that would be the most effective for your product and/or service. If your radio agency makes a recommendation that they feel strongly about, such as placing at least 3 phone number mentions in your radio advertisement, it is in your best interest to heed their advice. Another thing you should never do is ignore agency deadlines. Production and Media Buying deadlines are in place so that you get the highest quality radio ads and media clearance as possible. Making a habit out of stretching deadlines, while still shooting for the closest air date can result in less than optimal creative and media.

The above information is just a starter list of important items to keep in mind from the moment you decide to work with a radio advertising agency and throughout your partnership. The most important thing to remember is that as with any partnership, both parties should be working toward the same goal. When working with a radio advertising agency, the ultimate goal for both parties involved should be the success of your radio advertising campaign. Following these best practices will help you and your radio agency not only meet, but exceed your radio advertising goals. 

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