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Direct Response Radio Advertising How Long Should A Radio Advertising Test Run For

Startup companies ask us the same thing all the time: “We’re about to launch our new product and we want a one-week direct response radio advertising test campaign. We’ve got $1,000 to spend on this and we want to run our campaign in a major metro market (Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, etc.). We want at least 100 calls/leads out of this budget and we’re hoping you can guarantee us that number. Can you give us some call data from another client of yours in the same industry?”
I give those clients my professional advice: “Take that money, go to Vegas, and bet it all on red. You’ll have better odds of making your money back.” Seriously, playing roulette with that money would at least get you a 48% chance of some return, plus you might have a good time, win or lose. Compare that to the roughly zero odds you’d have running a direct response radio advertising test campaign with that kind of budget and for such a short time frame. It’s not even gambling: it’s just flushing money down the toilet.
Let’s face it: in all likelihood, you’re not unique out there. There are other businesses in the same business segment as you, and you’re all competing for the same customers. And how do they get customers? By running radio advertising or TV advertising, just the same as you. In the end, you literally can’t afford to make a halfhearted test campaign like the one described above: you’re not the only fish in the sea.
#1 You need to start with the right target market for your direct response radio advertising or direct response TV advertising test campaign. Be sure to take both your advertising budget and the actual demand for your product/service in a given market into account, with your budget taking priority. You’re the only one who can tell your advertising partner everything they need to know to do their job right: be sure they have all the relevant information about your business.
#2 You need to run your test campaign in your target market for 8 to 16 weeks. Your viewers/listeners aren’t exactly goldfish, but it takes repetition to drill your message into their heads: your campaign won’t start to build momentum until after your potential customers hear your message (including direct response radio advertising and direct response channels) five times, at the very least. It should only take your typical listener 4-5 days to hit that magic number, assuming you use the right ad frequency, so run your test for at least a month, or 2-3 months if you want better information.
#3 Even if you’re not the only fish in the sea, nothing’s forcing you to swim with the sharks. Advertise in markets where you can afford to run your test campaign long enough and often enough to get the information you require: you can stretch your advertising dollar to great effect if you choose the right markets for your test campaign. Running two ads a day on a single station is not going to earn you your investment back: again, you’d have better odds making back your money in a casino.
Now, I’m not saying this from the perspective of some advertising industry bigwig who talks about nothing but GRPs (gross rating points). I’ve been on the client’s side of the table in the past, trying to grow a business and maintain acquisition/leads costs. When I say that frequency is crucial to whether a test campaign booms or busts, I say it from experience. I’ve watched people try to launch their own test campaigns without having a big enough budget behind them, and in 11 years I haven’t seen a single one get off the ground. The short-term test campaigns are almost as depressing: the only ones I’ve seen work are for those rare one-in-a-million cases where the client had truly captured lightning in a bottle, providing a product or service that had never been advertised on TV or radio before ” something, anything, that had yet to enter the mainstream. Unless you’re one of those one-in-a-million cases, you’ll need to take all the right steps: pick the right market, run your test campaign for 8-16 weeks, and budget the whole thing appropriately.
If your business is located in Monmouth-Ocean, NJ; Buffalo, NY; Louisville, KY; Richmond, VA; New Orleans, LA; Rochester, NY; Birmingham, AL; McAllen-Brownsville-Harlingen, TX; Greenville-Spartanburg, SC; Tucson, AZ; Ft. Myers-Naples, FL; Dayton, OH; or any of the other 305 radio markets, you can call our office with any questions you may have about TV or radio advertising. Even if you are not our customer, we are still happy to help your business out.

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