"Endorsement commercials on Augusta radio is now our predominant form of advertising," says Jeff Rucker. He is the owner of three Mathnasium franchises throughout the Central Savannah River Area with locations in Augusta, Evans, and Aiken.
"We originally signed up for a six-month campaign," he says. "but, it worked so well we are now on Augusta radio every weekday, 52 weeks a year."
"Mathnasium," explains Mr. Rucker, "is similar to a gymnasium. At a gym, people go to keep their bodies fit. When parents bring their kids to us, it's for a mind workout. Our instructors help school children from grades 2-12 develop their math skills, exercise their thinking skills, and help them with their math homework."
"And, like at a gymnasium," he continues, "parents pay a monthly membership so their kids can come to us as many times as they need to be successful in school."
One of the reasons radio advertising performs so well for Mathnasium is the medium's ability to reach CSRA parents with school-age kids.
Last week, for instance, significantly more of these parents were reached by Augusta radio stations than watched local TV, read a local newspaper, or logged-on to streaming audio sites like Pandora and Spotify.
"Our radio advertising started to take-off when we switched from regular recorded commercials to our live, endorsement ads," says Mr. Rucker. "Since we started using endorsements, the number of leads we receive has really grown.
An endorsement commercial is when a well-known radio personality speaks first-hand about the benefits of an advertiser's product.
"I know I've responded to radio endorsements myself," says Mr. Rucker. "So, I thought, Duh! why aren't I doing that for my business."
"Endorsements work because radio personalities earn the trust of their audiences. When they say a product is good, the listeners will believe them."
Mr. Rucker's insight is supported by research conducted at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Communications & Journalism.
The study found among radio listeners:
- 70% consider radio personalities to be regular people like themselves, who are relatable and authentic. They would be missed if they were gone.
- 60% think radio hosts are like friends whose opinions they trust and value.
- 50% feel personality endorsements are more likely to incite them to take action compared with other advertising approaches.
"What's great about our endorsement ads on Augusta radio," says Mr. Rucker, "is that they don't sound like commercials. They sound very conversational, like the personality is talking directly to each listener."
"The bottom line is," says Mr. Rucker, "Mathnasium is a relationship business. Parents must trust us before they will bring their kids to us. I don't know any other advertising medium, except radio, that is relationship-based. TV can't do it. Newspaper can't do. Online can't do it. Only radio can help us develop a relationship with potential customers."
Mr. Rucker admits, "Some of our radio endorsement commercials have been so powerful, they have made me cry when I heard them."
In addition to Augusta radio stations, Mr. Rucker depends of referrals and pay-per-click advertising to bring in new customers to his business. He is quick to point out, though, radio is what keeps Mathnasium at the top of consumers' minds."
"I know," he says, "when someone hears about Mathnasium from a friend or sees our name in a Google search, they are more likely to call or click if they already know about us from our radio advertising."
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