ANYONE WHO SAYS RADIO IS DEAD SHOULD TALK TO ERNIE Menchaca. As the president of Clearwater Mortgage in Boise, Idaho, Menchaca used the lower-tech medium to become the market expert in shepherding buyers through a bureaucratic federal down-payment grant program that eliminates out-of-pocket costs for qualified purchasers. Placing his ad during drive time on three local radio stations, Menchaca captured an underserved market of first-time and cash-poor prospects. “There's a lot of people starting out who just don't have the down payment they need [for an FHA loan],” he says. A follow-up ad enticed local builders to use the grants to lure traffic and close more sales.

“The program will bring in folks that otherwise couldn't afford it,” says Chuck Thomas, co-owner of Thomas & Dunn Development in Eagle, Idaho, which will partner with Clearwater Mortgage on a 14-home project priced in the high $150s. Under the program, Thomas will fold closing costs and points into the mortgage. At the closing table, a nonprofit agency on behalf of the FHA refunds those costs to the builder. Though Menchaca also advertised the program on television and in print, radio proved to be the best medium. “I can tell when we've run an ad because of the number of lead calls coming into the office,” he says. “It has definitely boosted our business.”

CAMPAIGN DETAILS Program: Radio advertising; Client: Clearwater Mortgage, Boise, Idaho; Cost: $4,000 per month (media buy only; production included)

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Boise City, ID.