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The Web for profit

The Web for profit

Nov 1, 2001 12:00 PM, by John Caracciolo

As the economy continues its downturn, and radio revenue continues to decrease, station managers must use all their powers and all the tools at their disposal to increase the bottom line. Unfortunately, it now appears that the worst case is a reality, with even greater downside potential if future events cause greater disruption to the economy.

This is wartime economy, and broadcasters are the most negatively affected business. We are totally dependent on advertising and entertainment revenues for our livelihood. The advertising marketplace was already in a slight decline before the tragic events of September 11, but the incremental loss is staggering. Experts predict that total advertising spending for 2001 will be down more than 6 percent, with radio down more than 7.5 percent. In addition to the decline, most radio sales executives are reporting a feeling of awkwardness when discussing advertising with clients, and some clients are concerned that the public might perceive them as greedy or opportunistic for continuing to run a radio schedule. Today’s broadcast manager is faced with the enormous task of maintaining profitability in a fragile economy and an unstable world. We must use every tool available to us.

Let’s go to the Net

The Internet is still in its shake-out stage. Gone are the days of projected budgets of seven figures for your web site. But the Web can still be a source of additional income for your broadcast station with very low overhead and costs.

At Jarad Broadcasting we use the radio stations to drive traffic to our site, but instead of site advertising, we are using a separate marketing concept that could survive on its own. By looking at the entire picture of our company rather than looking at the Web as a separate revenue business plan, we are using the Web as a profit line on our station’s budget rather than a separate business budget.

Classified advertising

Classified advertising in our local paper is huge � more than $700,000 a week. Radio needs to get some of that money. Unfortunately, a byproduct of an economy like this is higher unemployment. Radio, and a creative radio spot, will drive your listeners to your classified Web page. Use the radio station’s unused inventory to drive traffic to your website’s classified page. Don’t use the radio spot to sell, just use it to drive the listeners to the site. Produce a sixty-second spot that jumps out and moves listeners to log on. Make the spot a rotator that has the same copy, but change the tag line so every company that buys a classified Web spot is mentioned. You are selling a package deal. The key to the success of this program is a good high frequency radio schedule using your unused inventory. Use a large portion of your unused radio commercial inventory. Your big sell to the companies is the $50,000 radio package that you are going to invest into this project to insure that listeners will see their classified advertisement.

All you need is a classified Web listing and a radio schedule that brings them to the listing; newspapers can’t do that. Newspaper classified ads are nothing more then a big list compiled in alphabetical order. No big sales pitch here, and nothing driving potential customers to look there unless they have to.

The classified Web page project is nothing more than a listing and creative written copy. Charge each company $750 for a full month, this is a fraction of the newspaper’s price. Thirty companies and your unused radio inventory just added $22,500 to the bottom line for one month.

Take this idea one step further, and develop a Web page that lets potential job seekers list their qualification for free. Using an e-mail address for their contact information, you just added a public service spin to this project. Now in addition to a radio package driving traffic to a creative classified page, you are also providing companies with an e-mail data base of potential job-seekers.

Let’s face it, newsprint cannot compete with this package. The simple use of unused radio inventory and creative selling can net your radio station more than $200,000 right to the bottom line. This is a simple, quick, inexpensive way of using your website for pure profit.

John Caraciolo is vice president and general manager of Jarad Broadcasting, Garden City, NY.