When it comes to advertising, today’s contractor is faced with a slew of digital choices: YouTube, Pandora, Google, Facebook, to name a few. Does old-school advertising such as radio still make sense in this new world?
The answer, according to experts and data, is yes — with some caveats.
“If you have a marketing budget, you need to allocate some of it to radio,” says Dave Fantle, executive director of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) Milwaukee Chapter. Before joining NARI, Fantle, a former chief marketing officer for the Wisconsin tourism department where he oversaw an $8 million budget, recognizes many contractors don’t have that kind of money for advertising. But even those with limited budgets should consider radio if the demographics make sense, he advises.
When it comes to radio, it appears they do. For example, women between 35 and 60 years old are responsible for making decisions regarding projects. This same demographic has been shown to listen to radio.
Radio listener surveys back up this contention. In fact, radio reached 92% of households that spent $10,000 or more on remodeling projects in the last year, according to a Scarborough USA+ 2013 report. More specifically, the report shows when it comes to replacement jobs, more than 90% have installed a new roof or done major roof repair, installed siding, or replaced windows. And, as Fantle notes, radio every week reaches almost 93% of women aged 35-64, according to a 2015 RADAR report from Nielsen Audio.
You don’t have to convince Joe Hogel of this fact. The CEO of MEGAPROS has been advertising on WGN talk radio for about 20 years with a current annual budget or $110,000. But he doesn’t think of his spots as ads because they’re all customer testimonials.
“What we do is more marketing than advertising,” he says.
The process also is highly monitored. Hogel maintains a lead scorecard that tells him how his advertising is doing and bases his spending on that data. His goal is 1.5 leads per spot and $2,800 per lead. Tracking leads and revenue per lead is crucial for contractors to determine whether radio advertising makes sense, he adds.
“You have to make sure the leads you’re getting from the radio can actually support what you’re spending on the radio,” he explains. Hogel adds that some contractors conflate friends with leads. “Make sure you’re advertising isn’t ego based,” he warns. “It’s so gratifying when people say, ‘Oh, I heard you on the radio.' It’s like a secondary drug. You’re believing that, just because your friends hear you, that somehow it’s good for you business. You really have got to keep your eye on the numbers.”
But Hogel and Fantle say keeping those numbers up also means taking advantage of the new digital advertising and marketing avenues. For example, Hogel posts his customer testimonials on Facebook and tags the people in the spot, which often causes them to share it with their friends and potentially go viral.
Fantle adds that today’s radio advertising world has changed creating new alternatives to traditional advertising such as “This traffic report brought to you by…” Contractors can even underwrite a show about home improvement. “Darn near everything is up for sale,” he says.
Ultimately Fantle says, whether radio makes sense or not, depends on the message — and whether it can cut through the clutter of today’s media-saturated world.
“Don’t write off the traditional,” he advises. “Just use
the traditional in nontraditional ways.”