Make-Believe Marketing vs. the Real Deal
A highly intelligent, successful general manager
recently informed me that radio stations don’t need to advertise their own
product. Having heard this line with increasing frequency in the last five
years, I was prepared with my standard retort: “If advertising a product
doesn’t deliver a result, how does your radio station manage to sell so much
I usually receive a predictably incredulous
stare followed by this kind of response: “That’s different. Retail advertisers
are actually selling products and services. We are selling entertainment and
information. People are always searching for entertainment choices, so we get
sampling just by being on the air. Besides, we’re very active on Twitter and
Facebook and we do a ton of events. Just last week, we did a huge blood drive, two
bar appearances and a concert. Lots of people come into contact with us that
Behind every good lie, there is a veneer of
truth regarding every level of this logic. Radio stations — especially those
with great signals — do get sampling. However, that kind of sampling is
short-lived, erratic and often based on the need to simply find an alternative
to something the listener doesn’t enjoy, like a commercial break that’s
too long, a song he or she doesn’t like or a boring talk segment.
If you’re in the game long enough, you come to
learn that a station can undoubtedly grow an audience through great programming
and regular sampling. The question is more about how long you have to be around
to get enough sampling to grow. (It doesn’t hurt if your station has a unique,
Regarding social media as a marketing tool, yes,
it can drive tune-in — the bigger the quantity of fans, the more likely you will
However, those who focus on social media to
drive tune-in without pushing out any real content run the risk of lessening
their own effectiveness when they bombard fans with tune-in messages.
Also, while the reach of Facebook and viral
nature of Twitter will go out to an audience significantly larger than those
who subscribe to your social media outlets, it is typically a tiny number of
people compared to the size of the city in which you broadcast.
How about so-called event marketing? Does it
help? I’ve long felt that pressing the flesh is vital to building brand loyalty.
Over the years, your on-air personalities can meet a lot of people. However,
this, too, is highly unlikely to drive a perceptual change in ratings because
it happens so gradually. I’ve got to add that event marketing isn’t real
So, what is real
Real marketing reaches massive numbers of a
target audience with high frequency, with the goal of driving tune-in and
First: Whether it’s broadcast or local cable
insertion, the visual/aural impact of a great TV spot will drive action. Television
will work if you think of it the same way as your radio advertiser thinks of
using you… there must be enough reach of the target audience with high
Second: Dive into the great outdoors: billboards,
transit, stadiums and portable trucks. Again, you’ve got to effectively cover
the territory, or run the risk of wasting your money.
Third: Be sure to do your homework. Hire an agency
that can show you the actual results they’ve produced for other advertisers in
Radio stations need real marketing because of
the number of entertainment options and distractions in the 21st
century. You don’t just compete with other broadcasters. You are now vying for
attention with Internet stations, websites, social media, mobile phone conversations,
texting and streaming video.
For those of you thinking about launching new formats
without marketing budgets, please consider how much time you have in your
hourglass. Companies eventually demand ratings results, and if you don’t budget
enough money for marketing your new product, you may pay the price with the end
result being your company saving your salary.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.