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Thinking of Marketing Your School on Radio? 10 Mistakes to Avoid

Posted by Kylee Bowman on Aug 15, 2017 3:00:00 PM

As your leadership team sorts through the myriad of options to get the word out about your school, I'm sure that radio has popped up more than once.


Going on the air is a big investment. Don't waste it.It's an old stalwart of the media world, the faithful companion of many a road warrior and homebody alike for generations. Thousands are listening, so those same thousands are sure to hear your uber-persuasive ad when it airs and then flock to your school, right?




Sure, we at Schola specialize in content and inbound marketing, because we are convinced that it works and passionate about helping schools and ministries make the most of their marketing dollars with this affordable and efficient method. But we recognize that sometimes there are other marketing puzzle pieces (yes, like radio) that can complement and complete a solid plan to raise awareness and, ultimately, enrollment of your school.


If you're planning to make the investment in radio ads (and make no mistake, it's a sizeable one), there are some crucial things you should know first to make it worthwhile. Avoiding these 10 common mistakes can help ensure that your radio ad pays off.


1) Thinking it's all you need

We'll just get this out of the way: radio by itself will not generate the visitors and applicants that your school is looking for. It can be a great way to raise awareness of your school or an event, but without a high-quality, user-friendly website and active online presence, it's not likely to go very far. Make sure that you have your online ducks in a row (think: a comprehensive website with an active blog, compelling calls-to-action, and useful resources) before you even begin to run any other ads.


People's listening habits aren't the same as they were a decade ago2) Thinking it's as effective as it was 10 years ago

With all the other listening options available, there are simply fewer people listening to traditional radio. Don't let the radio sales reps fool you. While radio still undeniably has a large reach, other media has taken a massive bite out of the market.


3) Ignoring online radio

That said, you might want to consider advertising on a streaming platform like Pandora. Spotify has a reputation for being quite expensive, but they are also more targeted (you can choose who hears your ad based on a variety of factors, including their playlist choices, age, location, hobbies, and more). Pandora also offers fairly targeted local data-driven advertising that might be a good fit for your school. Plus, it will be easier for listeners to head straight to your website after hearing or seeing your ad since they're already online.


4) Not having a goal

What do you want to get out of your radio ad? Attendees at your upcoming open house? Simple awareness of your school? Have a plan, and make sure your ad is direct. You have a limited time frame and listener attention span to work with, so make sure you maximize it. Direct the listener to a specific point, rather than run down a litany of your greatest accomplishments or lose them in a mess of hokey, framed dialogue. Radio is no place to beat around the bush.


5) Not having a way to track it

If you're going to pour your resources into a school marketing medium, you want to make sure it's working. Develop a means to keep track of how many leads your radio ads generate. This can be done through a dedicated phone number that listeners are directed to call, a special landing page on your website, or a visible CTA on your home page that radio listeners will readily recognize from your ad message.


6) Not spotlighting your website

According to HubSpot, 78% of internet users conduct their product research online first. Young parents are going to want to check you out online before they call or visit. Make sure you tell them where to find you (and make a compelling argument for why they should).


7) Not answering their questions on your website

Once you send them to your website, make sure that it's ready to receive them. Take a look at your website from a brand-new visitor's point of view. If you are a parent who has just heard the school's radio ad, and you hop online to get more info, are you going to find what you need quickly? Is your website clean, streamlined, and welcoming? Does it encompass the culture of your school? Does it invite you in to learn more? Is it mobile-friendly? Pull in some outsiders to critique your site and help you finesse it in preparation for your marketing campaigns. Make an engaging and memorable first impression online. Otherwise, you will lose any valuable leads your ad brings in a matter of seconds.


8) Not allowing adequate time

Radio ads take time to reserve, produce, and run. This is not an instantaneous medium. If you want to incorporate radio in your Open House marketing campaign, make sure you begin the process at least 12 weeks in advance.


9) passing the chance for free exposure

Many radio stations have community calendars for local non-profit events that their personalities will occasionally announce on-air. Make sure you get your school events on there. You may also be able to schedule a free on-air interview to promote your school or upcoming public event (though these often require months of advance reservation). Take advantage of these free opportunities for exposure and reach the same listening audience that you're considering paying for.


10) Not knowing your buyer personas

Who are your target parents? What are they listening to? Don't just assume these answers, because they may be notably different than what you think. Poll your current parents to find out, and then choose your advertising media accordingly. If you've got a popular Christian music station in your area, that might be a good place to start as opposed to the big Top 40 station. Don't ignore talk radio, either, which could be popular with many dads. After you've established your target audience's listening preferences, make sure that your carefully-crafted message speaks to their "pain points" and clearly shows how your school can meet their needs.


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Topics: Radio Advertising, School Marketing