I am an author and am looking into direct response with radio. I have a company that is willing to promote my books for commission only. Do you have any thoughts on direct response on radio and any advice? What are some pitfalls to avoid and ideas for success?

Ann Morgan James, author of "How to Raise a Millionaire"


The problem: You have an offer to promote your books and other merchandise on radio on a commission basis. I presume the margin you receive is adequate to pay your costs and that each sale provides some profit. Another basic consideration is the appeal of your merchandise. If lack of exposure is the basic problem for lagging sales, then increasing exposure will bring success. If the problem lies with the basic demand for the product, increasing promotion will probably not lead to success.

Assuming your product has a basic demand, it meets a real need in the marketplace and radio has been chosen as the media to carry the message, the basic issues are:

You are dealing with a focused medium. You will reach a relatively small portion of the potential audience but you will reach them relatively frequently. Radio is inexpensive, flexible and it is easy to change messages. Its weaknesses are that it is not visual and it can be hard to measure responses. If potential customers have to remember a complex Internet address so they can enter it into a browser, then radio is not nearly as strong a choice as direct mail or print advertising.

Most importantly, does the station routinely reach the kind of listener who forms your target market? Radio listeners tend to listen to only a few stations. If they hear your message at all, they will hear it multiple times. If you reach the right market, this can be good for you.

You need to present your contact information (Web address) in a way they will likely remember it. You need to repeat it several times and to be sure it is articulated carefully on the air.

Radio is called "the theater of the mind." If there is some way to use a dramatic, imaginative appeal, it can be effective. However, do not do this at the cost of clarity. It is more important the audience gets your address or telephone number correct than to be entertained.