There is still value in radio ads for funeral homes

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The Radio Advertising Landscape for Funeral Homes

By Welton Hong


There are about 15,500 radio stations in the United States. Combined, they have an enormous audience: About 90% of the people in the country of almost any age listen to radio at least monthly.

That makes radio a great place for funeral service advertising, even while many small businesses think radio ads are too expensive or that this traditional format is dead.

In 2019, advertisers in the United States spent a whopping $17.9 billion on radio advertising. That number’s expected to grow by almost a billion through 2023, and a majority of the firms advertising in this format are local small or midsize businesses (SMBs).

If you’re currently not among those numbers, what do other businesses know about radio advertising that you don’t?

Radio Reaches Virtually Everyone

Radio’s audience is much larger and more varied than the audience for any social media platform or other common entertainment method. It even beats out television. Consider the following:

  • More than 90 percent of people in America report listening to the radio
  • Only 87 percent report watching television
  • Just over 80 percent report using a smartphone
  • Only around half report regularly using a PC computer

And while smartphone and PC use rates might rise drastically as age drops, radio use is stable over all generations:

  • 90 percent of people aged 18 to 34 listen monthly
  • 94 percent of people aged 35 to 49 tune in monthly
  • 91 percent of people aged 50 and older use radio monthly

Radio Audiences Are Often In Their Cars

The most popular place for people to jam to radio tunes or enjoy talk radio is in their cars. More than 70 percent of adults in America report regularly listening to radio in their cars.

Why is that important for funeral homes looking to advertise on radio? Because you don’t want to throw money at ads no one will hear. If people are in their cars, they’re somewhat captive and are more likely to be paying attention to what’s on the radio.

Someone listening to the radio or watching television at home can move in and out of the room, handling other tasks when ads break into the entertainment. And anyone browsing online can ignore ads, click quickly through content without connecting, or bounce from the page as soon as something else catches their eye.

Vehicle-based audiences, however, are less likely to even switch stations as long as your ad isn’t overly long or extremely annoying. That increases the chance that individuals within your target audience will hear the radio ad and even connect with the message. It also improves the likelihood they’ll hear the ad more than once, which can help create brand recall that encourages them to call on your funeral home during a time of need. 

Radio Ads Can Feel Friendlier

Radio ads are a great way to connect in a more human manner with your audience, especially if you, funeral directors with your firm, or other staff members are willing to record the ad script. That lets your unique, personal voices shine through.

This is a good benefit for any local business but especially for funeral homes. You’re offering an extremely personal service and one that people might be scared of or hesitant to ask about. Hearing voices from your business and realizing that you are caring, compassionate people helps consumers feel comfortable calling on you during a time of need or reaching out to you for preplanning. 

Tips for Putting Radio to Work for Your Funeral Home

No single advertising method works on its own today, and a multichannel marketing strategy is always your best approach. But if you want to fold radio into that strategy, here are some tips for maximizing ROI for your efforts:

Pair radio with digital.

Make it easy for people to move from your radio advertisement to your website or social media profile to find out more. Consider setting up a landing page just for your radio ad.

For example, Smith Funeral Home may want to interest people in preplanning a green burial. They might include the URL in their ad. It’s fairly easy to remember, and even if someone doesn’t get the entire URL, they know they can search online for the company.

Other options include telling people to look for you on Facebook or Instagram or simply giving the homepage URL for your website and telling them to click “preplanning” or another item on your main menu.

Keep ads short and simple.

Ads that involve too much information can be confusing, which means people will stop listening. You typically only have up to 30 seconds for a radio spot, and depending on your budget, you may have less time. Each radio ad should concentrate on a single problem and solution—for example, don’t try to sell preplanning, green burial, and at-need services all in the same ad.

Advertise at the right frequency.

All marketing and advertising works through repetition. Traditional wisdom is that it takes at least seven touchpoints before someone acts on marketing messages. While that number is debatable, it’s true that the more times someone hears about your services the more likely they are to contact you.

One radio ad won’t do much good. Ensure you’re advertising at a frequency that people are hearing your ad several times in a week.

Include a very simple call to action (CTA).

Remember that the majority of people listen to radio in their cars. They might not be able to write anything down or immediately type in a URL.

Keep your CTA as simple as possible so people have a chance of remembering it later. Use the shortest possible URL, catchy wordplay, and a phone number that’s easy to remember.

Radio advertising can be effective. And with costs ranging from $200 to $5,000 a week depending on where you’re advertising and how often you want ads to play, it can be a cost-effective method of targeting captive local audiences.

Welton Hong
Ring Ring Marketing

Welton Hong is the founder & CEO of Ring Ring Marketing, a full-service digital marketing firm recognized as a leader in educating the funeral industry on cutting-edge techniques to increase at-need calls and preneed sales. He is also the author of Making Your Phone Ring with Internet Marketing for Funeral Homes, Second Edition.  To learn more about Ring Ring Marketing click here.



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