Is Radio Advertising a Sound Decision For Body Shops?

Is Radio Advertising a Sound Decision For Body Shops?

Even though the Internet is continuing to explode and cable TV advertising is flourishing, radio is still alive and well and more body shops are using it, according to people who know—such as: advertising agencies, media buying companies, radio stations and body shops themselves.

According to Kantar Media, there are nearly 5,000 AM stations and roughly 9,000 FM stations in this country and last year radio advertising dollars increased by 8 percent at the national level and 3 percent locally. While the collision industry is always looking for new forms of advertising and marketing, the word out on the street is that good old broadcast radio is still a viable form for body shops, both MSOs and independents.

Phil D’Angelo is a sales manager for three radio stations in northern California (KUIC, KKIQ and KKDV) and has seen how radio advertising has worked well for body shops in his regions. “We currently have five body shops advertising on KUIC in Vacaville, CA, and they’re happy with the results,” D’Angelo said.

“Radio is more popular now, because it offers so many options for companies of all sizes. For regional companies, you’re going to get more bang for your buck with radio, as opposed to other forms of advertising or marketing. People wake up in the morning with the radio; drive to work with the radio and listen to the radio all day at work, so radio travels everywhere and some people listen to it 8–10 hours and more every day. Also, we’ve discovered that the Internet and broadcast radio work hand-in-hand, because radio creates demand and the Internet fulfills that demand. If they hear you on the radio and then see you online, there’s a good chance you’ll get them as a customer.”

D’Angelo had to learn the collision game in order to better serve his body shop clients, he explained. “When we started working with body shops, we discovered that their business model is unique, because from what they’ve told us, 80% of all the work comes through the insurance companies. So, the advertising we’ve designed for them conveys a specific message, but branding is also a big part of it. We want the body shop’s name to be in the listener’s head.

In the radio business, we call it the consumer’s ‘top-of-mind awareness,’ and it’s very important in the collision repair industry, because getting your car fixed is not an impulse buy. So, when people do get in an accident, they’ve already heard the shop’s name over and over on one of our stations and that’s who they will mention it to their insurance agent.”

Chuck Jessen is the owner of PreFab Ads in San Francisco, a company that licenses professionally-produced TV spots to body shops on an exclusive-by-market basis. These commercials have appeared on 260 local television markets throughout the country and several have won international advertising awards and have been featured on such national TV programs as “Reel TV” and “World’s Funniest.”

Jessen is currently producing a series of radio ads to add to his menu of offerings, because his clients are asking more and more for 30 and 60-second spots they want to air on local stations. “Some body shops are switching from TV to radio, so that they can target their customers more specifically,” Jessen said.

“In the bigger markets, the cost of TV advertising is prohibitive for many independent body shops with modest advertising budgets. If you’re paying to advertise to a certain market and a large majority of it is out of your area, it doesn’t make sense for any regional business to advertise outside that area. With radio, body shops can get more saturation and coverage in smaller to mid-size markets, so it’s ideal for body shops that draw customers from no more than 10 miles away.”

Radio has a captive audience and Jessen knows from his 30 years of experience what types of radio ads will work in any market, he said. “People are in their cars a lot and commuters aren’t going away any time soon. We’re producing several different types of radio ad, including humorous and instructional. With our TV ads, we already know humor works and community service type themes are always well-suited for the collision industry. We produced a radio ad that conveys an anti-texting message and it gets good reviews, because it’s a warm and fuzzy type of ad that listeners will find useful.”

Sharon Wicks is the president of Silicon Valley Media Consulting in San Jose, CA and has seen a recent spike in her clients’ interest in buying more radio advertising time, she said. “Radio is thriving, because it just makes sense for regional businesses that can’t afford a heavy television advertising schedule. Radio has gone full circle and now it’s back in a big way, especially for companies that value a highly targeted approach.”

Wicks has seen more and more of her clients asking about Pandora Internet Radio, an automated music recommendation service that plays musical selections of a certain genre based on the user’s artist selections. The user then provides positive or negative feedback for songs chosen by the service, which are taken into account when Pandora selects future songs.

“Advertisers like Pandora, because it is more targeted than conventional radio,” Wicks said. “Pandora has specific demographic information about every one of its users, so you’re getting exactly who you want to reach. When your ad runs, it appears in a pop-up banner-type ad with audio that can be either 15 or 30 seconds in length. Either way, it’s less invasive than a 60-second radio ad and of course, it’s paired with a visual, which gives it more impact.”

Rich Villanueva is the marketing manager at Michael J’s Body Shop, Inc., with three very busy locations in San Jose, CA. After much planning and research, Villanueva decided that radio was the best plan for this burgeoning regional MSO, for several reasons.

“We found a local FM station (KEZR) that offered a package we were very comfortable with, so we hired an advertising agency (Kilburg & Associates) that does ads for the San Jose Sharks NHL hockey team,” Villanueva said. “We decided to go with humorous ads and almost immediately we received a lot of positive feedback. We’re basically doing branding with these radio spots, rather than doing promotions. Since this is our first radio schedule, we want to get the name out there and connect the dots with our audience.”

Michael J’s had their agency produce seven different ads to run in rotation on KEZR and is now going to create more ads to leverage the fact that one of their owners is a woman. “We’re targeting women with these new commercials, because they represent a large portion of our customer base,” Villanueva said. “Jamie Ryan is one of our co-owners and she’s a great spokesperson for what we’re trying to do. In these ads, we position her as an expert and an advocate, especially for our female market. The message is we will treat our customers well from beginning to end, by providing them with a stress-free, non-threatening environment when they bring their car to Michael J’s.”

Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

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