I was recently asked if I thought terrestrial (over-the-air) radio still holds value as an advertising tool for local pizzerias. The answer is a resounding “yes.” Recent listener trend surveys demonstrate the value of investing a portion of your integrated marketing budget in local radio advertising.

Despite the rising popularity of streaming music services like Pandora and Spotify, traditional AM/FM radio remains the most popular way for people to listen to music, news and talk shows, according to a recent study by Clear Channel Media & Entertainment and MediaVest. More than half of the 2,000 survey respondents said they listen to over-the-air radio at least once per day, more than any other platform. 

Send free pizzas to your local deejays and talk show hosts, and you’ll get frequent on-air mentions in return.

The study shows that usage of all media platforms—from downloads and streaming to terrestrial radio—is at its highest between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. The study’s participants listen to audio content in their cars more than anywhere else, and they still prefer to listen to regular broadcast stations or satellite radio, according to the study. Additionally, they are more likely to stream their favorite AM/FM radio stations from home.

The survey further reveals that listeners still like terrestrial radio for its delivery of timely news, weather and traffic updates as well as the colorful on-air personalities. And 41% of consumers will listen to commercial messages in exchange for free online audio, the study noted. In other words, video didn’t kill the radio star—radio is still a popular entertainment medium for many Americans.

To get customers in the mood for your pizza after work, sponsor weather and traffic reports during afternoon drive times. 


Timing Is Everything

So how does this information relate to marketing your pizzeria? Local radio allows you to affordably reach your target market during peak listening hours. Here are some ways to use local radio to your advantage:

  • Buy during peak drive times. As mentioned earlier, peak drive time is 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. I suggest narrowing this daypart to 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. During this period, your target customer is probably driving home from work and thinking about dinner. The right commercial spot could set him on a course straight to your pizzeria.
  • Get your message right. Use a mix of five-second and thirty-second spots to suggest pickup or dine-in at your pizzeria tonight. Previous studies have shown that consumers are affected by a radio spot within 30 minutes of a purchasing decision. Radio has an immediate impact and touches consumers at the critical decision-making point.
  • Sponsor weather/traffic reports during afternoon drive times. These sponsorships have high value to listeners—they want to know the quickest way home and how the weather may affect their evening plans. Most weather/traffic sponsorships come with an open/close billboard (i.e., “This weather/traffic report powered by Dann’s World Famous Pizza”) plus a 15-second commercial that can be used to offer a pickup-only special.
  • Buy during the lunch hour. Well-placed radio commercials during the 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. daypart can help boost your lunch business. Advertise your carryout, dine-in and delivery options and offer a special catering menu for office lunches. Create a loyalty program specifically for the office crowd.
  • Take advantage of streaming advertising opportunities. As stated earlier, streaming listening peaks between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., so you want your message heard during this daypart. Streaming advertising packages are very affordable, allowing for a high-frequency, low-dollar investment. Most radio stations run separate commercial pods to their stream, meaning you can develop online specials targeting these listeners specifically.
Local radio personalities are trusted by consumers, and their association with your pizzeria can go a long way with listeners. Best of all, you don’t need a large marketing budget to afford radio spots.


Giveaways and Contests

Local radio provides several promotional partnership opportunities, from on-air contests and giveaways to inexpensive ad campaigns on radio station websites. Try these ideas to boost your ROI:

  • Provide free pizzas for on-air giveaways. You will receive copious on-air mentions for providing free pizzas and other products to morning deejays, talk show hosts and other personalities. Your investment is minimal, but the PR is invaluable.
  • Develop a weekly “Office of the Week” promotion. Your local station can solicit companies and offices in the area to register via the station’s website for a chance to win an office party. The payback? The station collects valuable consumer information for your restaurant, including addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. This data can be used to develop marketing campaigns targeted directly at these demographic groups.
  • Participate in your local station’s online and digital marketing programs. This sort of advertising—including banner ads, e-blasts and social media—is quite affordable. It allows you to target the radio station’s listener database and develop special offers and promotions just for them.

Radio stations with a “live and local” format—that is, featuring local on-air personalities and real-time programming—offer a unique marketing opportunity for pizza restaurants. Local personalities are trusted in your market, and their association with—or endorsement of—your pizzeria can go a long way with listeners. Local radio also targets your primary marketing area while expanding your secondary marketing area. Best of all, you don’t need a large marketing budget to compete in the local radio market. You can still target your message to the proper demographic, daypart and weekday, in order to gain the best ROI possible for your pizzeria. 

Dann Whittaker is a radio advertising veteran and consultant with 29 years of experience. He is the owner of Columbus, Ohio-based Dann Whittaker Creative, which helps businesses connect to their customers through effective integrated marketing plans, guest services consulting, sales consulting and store operations. Learn more at DannWhittakerCreative.com.

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