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Pet Stores on the Radio

Dave Ratner//November 1, 2014//

Pet Stores on the Radio

Dave Ratner //November 1, 2014//

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As I write this article I am trying to pull my thoughts together about our Christmas marketing plans as well as some ideas for making my customers love us even more. For the first time in years, I am investing money in radio advertising. I’ve seen a lot of research that says radio has the best ROI of any media. I am in a small market and have seven stores, so radio really makes sense for me.

If your store is in a small market or if you have more than one store, radio may be a great way to advertise your business. The trick is which station to buy, when should you run the spots and how often should those spots run. One more small detail: how to make a good radio ad.

Which station gets the most women listeners in your market? You want the most women since they are most likely the bulk of your customers. Radio stations can show you demographics of who is listening to them and when folks are listening.

How much can you afford to spend? The newer the business, the more you need to spend. The better the location, the less you need to spend. Are you the only game in town or, like most of us, do you have too many competitors? Do you have something new and of interest to a broad base of customers? A pretty standard rule of thumb is to spend about 2 percent of sales on marketing. Again, if your business is new, you need to spend more.

So, you picked the station. Now, let’s get the best deal. Do buy packages from the sales reps. Remember that your sales rep is not a marketing expert; he or she is a sales rep.

Here is what I do. I buy a bunch of spots on one day and I avoid drive-time spots since they are the most expensive spots. So I don’t have two spots a day, five days a week, I have 10 spots on Tuesday. Plus I run them whenever the times are cheapest to run.

You may be thinking, “Don’t you get way more people hearing the ad if you spend more to run in prime time?” Yes, but there is too much clutter and your ads will get lost since you can’t afford to run too many in prime time. Plus, wouldn’t you rather have 100 percent of the smaller audience versus 0 percent of the larger audience? Remember, I am in western Massachusetts so rates are very reasonable. Prime drive time spots on the leading station that women listen to are $60 per spot. I am buying Sunday night thru Monday night at $15 per spot.

I contracted out for a year, which makes it easier for the rep to get your deal accepted by management. When buying the spots, you want to own the day even if it’s two days a month.

I do all my advertising on the same days of the month so no matter what media folks are tuned into they will probably see or hear me. As you probably guessed, I do the radio ads myself. It is so important to connect personally with customers. Doing the spots myself lets the listeners know there is a real Dave. They know they are dealing with a real human being, not a corporation. A word of caution however. If you are not really comfortable or good at doing ads, don’t do them. They will be awful and you will bring shame on your family.

What to advertise? I like to solve customer problems. The object is to get as many folks as possible out of competitors’ stores and into your store. What customer problems do you solve most often? Here’s one idea: “Is your dog or cat overweight? We’ve had great results feeding Food X. Here’s why.”
I have been running the following ad for close to 20 years: “Dog got gas? For immediate relief come to Dave’s Soda and Pet City and pick up a bag of Dave’s Simply the Best Dog Food.” That’s the whole ad. Guess what is the best selling dog food sku in my stores?

Are you having a big promotion or sale at the store? Buy your spots right before the promotion. As I’m writing this in October, we are about to hold a Catoberfest event in conjunction with a rescue in one of our stores. Along with emails, Facebook, press releases, etc., I will buy some radio spots promoting it. I will point out the benefits of coming to the store that day, which are discounts, coupons, free food and all the money and supplies the rescue will get.

The question to ask yourself after you script the ad is “Would that make me come to the store?” If you are not sure, make a new ad.