The Balancing Act of Successful Radio Promotions

Stephanie Theisen
Last updated by Stephanie Theisen

While radio promotions themselves may only last a short while on-air, the planning and thought process behind them takes a lot of time. It requires creativity and thinking outside the box. What you hear on-air is the final product. To get to that final product, certain steps need to be taken.

Part of the planning process involves finding a balance between three items:

  • Listener Value
  • Radio Station Value
  • Advertiser Value

Balancing all three can be tricky, but it can mean the difference between a successful radio promotion and a flop. Read on to learn more about each of these three values.

This is an image of a balance scale

Listener Value

If you tuned to your favorite station and discovered they’d doubled the amount of commercials and taken away the announcers, you wouldn’t keep tuning in. There’s no value anymore. Listeners want a balance between their favorite songs, local news and events, relatable announcers, and fun giveaways — and even a handful of memorable commercials.

Radio Station Value

Radio stations satisfy two primary needs: the needs of listeners, and the needs of advertisers. Without listeners, radio stations can’t sell ads to local businesses like yours, and without advertisers, stations can’t survive. To keep radio free for listeners, there must be a trade-off between the two.

When you think of commercial-free music-streaming services like Spotify or Sirius XM, the listener is agreeing to pay a monthly fee to avoid those advertisements, otherwise they would still be present. The same goes for radio.

Advertiser Value

As a local business, you need more customers to help you grow. Your customers just so happen to be our listeners. This is why radio is a great choice for advertising, and why so many advertisers opt to use radio to market their business. When your business chooses radio advertising, your brand is exposed to thousands of local listeners everyday — listeners that live, work, and spend their money in your community.

Now that you understand the value needs of the listener, the radio station, and the advertiser, we’ll put them together for a promotion.


Let’s say you want to give away a snowmobile on one of our stations. Your first step is to let your account rep know what you want to do. They’ll ask, “Why? What’s your goal? What do you hope to achieve by giving away a snowmobile?”

You may already know what you want to achieve. Perhaps it’s better top-of-mind awareness, more foot traffic to your store, or just an increase in sales during winter months. If you don't know what you want to achieve, or you have a few rough ideas in mind but nothing solidified, your account rep can help you determine your best course of action.

Read the nine best local advertising strategies in this ebook.

The Promotions Director at the radio station will be responsible for figuring out how to turn your snowmobile giveaway into a successful radio promotion. It’s their job — alongside sales reps and announcers — to brainstorm ideas to make your giveaway a big hit with listeners.

Maybe there's an existing promotion this one could tie to, or perhaps they’ll create a brand new promotion to draw the giveaway out over several weeks, culminating in a live event at your location to give the snowmobile away.

This is an image of a snowmobile


The entire promotion revolves around your snowmobile giveaway. What are some natural products and services that work well with snowmobiles? Well, there’s winter wear like gloves, hats, snow suits, and boots. There are also sporting goods stores with a great selection of products for winter use.

Are you starting to envision the promotion coming together?

The radio station could team up with a sporting goods retailer for gift cards, and a clothing retailer for hats and gloves.

Using the gift cards, hats, and gloves, the station can create qualifying prizes for listeners, and designate specific contesting times throughout the day. At those times, the station could award the qualifying prize to caller #10. And the winner would also be eligible to win the snowmobile at the end of the contest period.

On the date of the big giveaway, all of the qualifiers could head to your place of business for a live drawing, to determine the winner of the snowmobile.

A Win/Win/Win Promotion

Your idea could remain a simple snowmobile giveaway, but that wouldn’t provide much value to anyone. By turning it into a several-week contest with qualifying prizes, and bringing the contest to a close at a live broadcast where you give away the grand prize, all three parties see enormous value.

  • Listeners have the chance to win qualifying prizes several times a day, and then are entered to win the grand prize at the end of the contest.
  • Stations see more value because they can bring in listeners several times throughout the day. A giveaway like this creates hype in the community, as listeners talk about the contest they're hearing about on the radio.
  • Advertisers extend the giveaway over several weeks, and consequently, help increase your business' top-of-mind awareness, and gain sponsors for qualifying prizes. Finally, by holding the final drawing live at your location, you'll bring in more foot traffic, which will likely result in additional sales.

As you can see, pulling off successful radio promotions takes a great deal of planning and effort behind-the-scenes. But, the hard work will pay dividends in the long run if done properly. This is just one of the many reasons we love working in radio. Bringing value to your business, whether it’s through a branding campaign or a promotion like this, is what we find most fulfilling. 

To get your businesses' promotion on the radio, contact one of our reps.

Get Your Business on the Radio Advertise with Us