Studies show your brain can process sound faster than sight. Researchers have also found an auditory impression can last four to five times as long as a visual. That’s why radio advertising works.

What it is

An ad that either runs throughout the day or at a specific time each day on one or more radio stations.

Why you need it

The frequency of radio spots and the medium’s intimacy—you reach people in their bedrooms, kitchens, cars and workplaces—can create a memorable experience for your target market.

How it helps

“Radio can evoke emotion with words, which starts to create a relationship with the audience,” says Stacey Cattell, national sales manager in Saskatchewan for Rawlco Radio. It’s not just what’s said that makes radio effective; it’s also the fact that listeners hear your voice.

Good to know

Of the advisors who use radio, the most successful speak during their commercials, says Susan Reade, general sales manager for Astral Radio in Edmonton. “You become real to someone, and become the voice of comfort and security,” she says.

It’s important to advertise financial advice over a long period, says Reade. A store that’s having a blowout sale can run ads wall-to-wall for a week and get crowds. But positioning yourself in the marketplace and building awareness takes time. You want listeners to hear your message at least two or three times every seven days. That means 18 to 24 spots per week, running at least 13 weeks.

Who can help

Listen to your local radio stations. What audiences are they targeting, and who is advertising? How does that mesh with your services and niche? Call a sales representative (contact information is usually on the station website) to get each station’s listener demographic breakdown (i.e. age, gender, income).

How much

Stations usually produce your creative free. Costs come from buying time, which varies by market, the station’s audience, the time period, and the number of spots you run.

All of the variables lead to sharp price swings. We asked radio sales managers in three different-sized markets to estimate the cost of running a 30-second ad about 20 times a week for a year. Costs ranged from roughly $400 per week in Hamilton, Ont.; $600 to $1,200 per week in Saskatchewan cities; to $2,000 per week in Vancouver.

Instead of an annual buy, you might want to purchase a 30-minute block of time on a weekend and host your own monthly money show. In Saskatchewan, it costs about $20,000 to buy 12 half-hour shows. You could appear once a month for a year, or once a week for three months in the run-up to RRSP season.

Tips to sound better

David Ciccarelli, CEO of, a job website for voice actors in London, Ont., offers these tips.

  • A 30-second spot should only include 80 words. Practise it aloud at this pace.
  • Warm up at least one hour before recording. Say tongue twisters, hum and massage your face.
  • Drink water.
  • Pin a photo of someone near the microphone and talk to it. That makes your read more convincing.
  • Mark your script with places to breathe, emphasize certain words, or speak softer or louder.