Getting The Ear Of An Influential

Advertising legend Bill Bernbach once said, "Word-of-mouth is the best medium of all," and he may have been right. Advertising, after all, is simply a mass-produced attempt to imitate word-of-mouth messaging.

According to the latest survey from GfK MRI, producer of media and consumer research in the United States, 43% of us will seek advice from a friend, family member or colleague before making a purchase. These conversations are powerful because they are both personal and intimate. And it's common knowledge among marketers that some consumers wield far more power than others in influencing brand choices and perceptions.

To influence these key consumers, it's critical for marketers to develop a better understanding of their media consumption patterns. GfK MRI provides rich data on "category influentials" -- people who have a great deal of knowledge about a product and are trusted sources for advice. When analyzing their media habits, an interesting pattern emerges -- influentials tend to be heavy users of radio.



Influentials CategoryInfluential Radio
Usage vs.
U.S. Adult
Automobiles + 30%*
Soft drinks + 20%
Beer + 18%
Home Remodeling + 16%
Video Games + 14%
Insurance + 12%
TV Shows + 11%
Business Travel + 10%
Pets + 10%
Mobile/Cellphones + 10%
Restaurants + 9%
Home Electronics + 8%
Finance/Investment + 8%
Movies + 6%
Shopping + 6%
Computers + 5%

*How to read: Auto Influentials listen to 30% more radio than the average U.S. adult. Source: GfK MRI Fall 2009

While radio does a yeoman's job in reaching key influentials each day, it also offers another persuasive and powerful word-of-mouth tool -- on-air personalities. Radio is among the most intimate of media, as the message one hears greatly influences what one thinks, how one acts and even what one sees. We should never underestimate the intimacy and power of the human voice.

Effective word-of-mouth advertising relies on the strength of the relationship between the speaker and audience. This is similar to the relationship many radio personalities enjoy with their listeners. In the media world, the closest any advertiser can come to replicating the intimacy of two people confiding in one another is leveraging the connection between a trusted radio personality and his or her listeners.

In this age of media proliferation, marketers can reach and impact their most influential customers via radio. With the ability to communicate in a personal and intimate fashion, radio provides advertisers with another powerful marketing option that can generate results -- and fast.


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