Today’s topic is all about leveraging the radio as you get very close to launching a new business. We are now in one of our final episodes on how you market a business step by step and we have been using radio advertising for childcare centers as an example. 

I am a fan of writing when marketing makes strategic sense, so I have a little bit of a love-hate relationship. More often, the love-hate relationship is more around how radio is positioned and often sold by the account managers.

They tend to find lots of lists of local businesses and new businesses and then they call and offer various packages with lots of fancy metrics. And I’m a big fan of metrics but, metrics can always be bent to convey whatever the person on the other side is trying to essentially paint a picture of. 

Radio Advertising

You can go to Google and type in “is radio advertising for childcare centers effective?” And one of the first articles you’re going to see is talking about why radio is one of the best ways to advertise. Then the article literally in the number two spot or number three spot is why radio is a stupid waste of money. 

The metrics can be pivoted again to show whatever story they want. Here is where I would like you to leverage the radio advertising for childcare centers as you’re getting ready to launch your childcare center. 

1. Advertising Campaign Duration

I’d like you to start to leverage it for probably anywhere between two and three months total. I would like it to be leveraged a month and a month and a half before you open and then a month and a month and a half after you open. That is the time frame for most new businesses that make a lot of sense. The reason that I tend to not recommend doing radio every day and sponsoring different things is that the repetition is only needed if you’re in either an insanely competitive space or an insanely lucrative market. 

For example, a lot of the people that sponsor the weather reports or something like that, a lot of times they’re personal injury attorneys. And it’s just they want to continue to have that repetition and they can throw lots and lots of dollars. However, if you’re a smaller business just getting things rolling and aiming to get traction, every dollar counts. 

2. Target Impressions & Frequency

What you’re looking for is you need to make sure that you have at least three and a half impressions on each radio station that you’re going to advertise every single week (I’ll have to tell you this is one of the secret numbers). What that translates to is you need to be running your ad at least 21 times during the week for it to be effective. That doesn’t mean that you can run your ad at drive time Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, for example, and be getting the traction that you need with radio—it’s all about repetition. You’ve got to make sure that you have that frequency. 

Now people are still listening to the radio. Yes, they’re also listening to XM, for example, but radio is still one of the platforms that people are listening to every day. It’s a great way to reach the people that you’re trying to reach. With everything, offline marketing and traditional marketing will amplify your online marketing. As you’re starting to figure out which time slots you want to do radio advertising for your childcare center, and then how to amplify that as well with your digital, we’re going to continue to combine both of those to just increase your overall effectiveness.

It’s all about getting your name out to the radio, which is more about building your brand, rather than just full-blown direct response marketing. 

3. Target Customer Persona

From a budget standpoint, this is all going to depend on the different radio stations and how popular they are. So you want to make sure that you’re getting in the head of that customer persona that you should have established several weeks ago. You want to be able to see what kind of stations they are listening to as they drive to work, for example. 

If I were targeting these parents that are getting ready to drop their kids off at childcare, they probably are listening to one or two different stations. They’re probably listening to it on drive time—maybe 9 to 11 am on Saturday or Sunday, and then they’re going to listen to it on the way home from work. Now you have to think, what are those one or two key stations that are going to have the lion’s share of your listeners in your geographic area? 

4. Target Geography

Unlike a lot of other things, the radio is going to be a little bit more spread out. A radio station doesn’t just cover five miles for example—it could cover 60 miles or 80 miles, which means you are going to get some reach and pay for some people that aren’t necessarily going to be a good person for your business through radio advertising for childcare centers. In this case, again, your childcare center. But you still have to kind of take the good with the bad. 

5. Cost Calculation

The reach is important—3.5 impressions per radio station per week. You’re going to be advertising 21 times per week for it to be effective. This will cost as low as $200 a week, and it could be as high as $5,000 a week. The cost again depends on where you’re located, what the radio stations are, and what their different rates are. They’re going to charge you for either a 30-second or a 60-second spot and then you’re going to pay for each of those. 

Let’s just use simple math. This number will be a little bit high, but so let’s say that this 60-second spot (I always prefer longer) and let’s say that it’s $100 per spot. You might have something around 6 am or you could have something else at 7:30 am. You could be doing two spots every day for the week, for example. 

In that case, it’d be $1,000 for the week. Now, as you start to negotiate more quantity, there’s usually a little bit of wiggle room, but often some of the primetime spots, or rather a lot of times they’re already taken and they’re non-negotiable. So, for some of those bigger radio stations, there’s not a lot of negotiation. If you’re in a more rural area, however, you might go to get those spots for $15 a spot, for example—it depends. There are a lot of different options, but you want to make sure that you have that frequency. 

6. Experimenting With Times and Slots

I also want to try different times, so I might not just try drive time but I might also try 10 p.m. and they’ll have all the data to tell you how many people are listening. 

You can test out some of the different times and some of the different spots to see what works the best. You have to consider a lot of things:

  • What does your ad look like? 
  • What do you say? Who reads it? 
  • Will it be 30 seconds or 60 seconds?
  • What is the call to action?

My preference is that you have one of the main DJs of the radio station do the reading. Now, you usually can negotiate that as it may cost a little bit extra. But, my preference is that one of the DJs is reading it and one of the most well-known, if not the most well-known DJ for that particular radio station—that’s one thing that you want to keep in mind. 

7. A Strong Call To Action

Now they’re gonna offer to write it for you—the script usually that’s included in their service, and you can have them come up with a draft. However, I want you to make sure that the call to action is strong. So if you’re running a month and a month and a half before an opening, what are you aiming to drive them to? Or, what are you aiming to create from an awareness perspective? 

I like to use the radio to push events to push open houses. Pushing that a month and a half in advance isn’t a great idea, however—you could start pushing that the week of the opening or the week before. Drive them to some kind of special offer. I like to give tracking phone numbers. If you’re going to advertise on two or three different stations make sure you create different tracking phone numbers.


8. Setting Up Tracking Phone Numbers

Now you can also take it a step further and create a tracking phone number for morning drive time, evening drive time, and weekends—these numbers are inexpensive, we’re talking only a couple of dollars a month per number. What I’m interested in is well, if somebody listens to the morning spot, do they write that number down? Maybe they don’t call till five o’clock. And you might think, “Well yeah, the five o’clock ad—that’s what put them over the edge”. But all the calls are coming from the phone number that they either wrote down or programmed their phone while they were driving (which they probably shouldn’t be doing). 


9. Analyzing and Renegotiating

Ideally, you want to make sure you get that data to start to gauge what’s working and what’s not working. I like upbeat ads, I like ads that tell stories, and I want the call to action repeated at least twice, ideally three times. That’s why I prefer the 60-second radio spot over 30 seconds. And again, you can go back and negotiate back and forth. I don’t want you to get sucked into buying all the extra stuff for the radio station. I want you to look at executing it to just test it out—test out the main station, do some negotiation, engage the results, and know that this should be amplifying your online marketing efforts

A lot of times you’ll start to see an uptick in search when you’re running these particular radio ads—that is going to amplify those results, and vice versa. 

10. Promoting with Main DJs

Now, the Holy Grail that I like to see with radio is as you get ready to launch your open house or your grand opening ceremony, I want you to negotiate and obviously, it’s going to cost extra, but I want one of (if not) the main DJs for that radio station at your location for half a day doing a live broadcast, giving away lots of prizes, and talking about your business that whole afternoon, evening, morning, or whatever time that you’re conducting that open house. That is where I have seen the most effective results—with a live remote because they’re often talking about it the day or two before. 

They’re going to say “we’re now broadcasting at ABC childcare, stop by. We’ve got some food, and concert tickets, they’re giving away scholarships today.” Build that up and that often will be the most successful thing that you do with a radio station. 

Final Words

The only way to get those is to advertise with the radio station—you got to build some rapport, invest some money, and then end up working up to that. 

On a final note, radio for most businesses can be an effective tactic, but I want you to keep an eye on the numbers, the metrics, and the financials. 

Hope you enjoyed today’s episode about radio advertising for childcare, check back in again as we are almost done with launching our new center. Get out there, make a change, and take some action.