Why Talk Radio Is the Best Format for Dental Marketing

Why Talk Radio Is the Best Format for Dental AdvertisingI sold talk radio for years, so I have to admit that I have a soft spot for it. But it’s the closest thing to perfect for a dentist who’s marketing a high-end service or product.

Ok, I know it has flaws.

For one, its audience can be too old. Don’t get me wrong – seniors make great patients, and I certainly want to reach them – just not only them.

Before you set your sights on a “talker,” make sure that the 65+ audience is not all they have. A mostly-seniors audience is too limiting, and probably won’t give you the return you’re looking for unless you’re selling a senior-focused product, like dentures.

Another potential weakness with talk is that it typically draws an audience that is 55% male. This totally flies in the face of the conventional dental marketing mantra – “always market to women.” Like all generalizations, marketing to women makes sense to a point. There’s no denying that women make more dental decisions for the family than men do.

I’m certainly not going to advocate sports-talk with its 85%-male audience.

But conventional thinking gets you conventional results. Think outside the box. The stations that attract female audiences are disproportionately expensive and attract all the other dental advertisers. The station bragging about their audience of women between the ages of 25-54 will probably be the most expensive station in the market.

Besides, you shouldn’t be overly concerned about “family” dental decisions because you shouldn’t be using radio to advertise for general dentistry anyway. There are much better tools for that (like direct mail, for instance). Radio is better suited for targeted campaigns to sell high-dollar dental services.

Despite the flaws I’ve mentioned, talk radio is still one of the first formats I look to in most markets. The demographic is perfect, hitting squarely in the 35-64 age group, with particularly high household income levels. These people have the two things you’re looking for: the need for your services and the cash or credit to pay for it.

Talk radio also has the advantage of being a foreground format – people who listen to talk are actually listening, not using the sound for ambiance or background noise.

Talk stations aren’t padding their audience numbers with “listeners” who just have the station on in the office or retail business, but aren’t paying any attention to it. Radio professionals refer to talk fans as “active listeners” because they are paying attention to the content, and are more likely to pay attention to the commercials too.

Talk listeners don’t flip around during commercials either. They are emotionally and intellectually invested in the programs they listen to, and each show is relatively unique. For example, Rush Limbaugh is only on one station in every market.

If you’re a Dittohead, you’re not flipping stations when he takes a break.

Music listeners flip all the time, especially if the station they are listening to doesn’t have an exclusive format. If you’re a country music fan, you can flip back and forth between the two country stations and miss most of the commercials. That’s no good for advertisers.

Marketing is all about efficiency. In most instances, talk will be your most efficient radio option.

Ed Ridgway has executed marketing campaigns for hundreds of businesses in the U.S. and Canada. He is nationally recognized for his ongoing campaigns with many of the top dental practices across the country.


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