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Are You Getting Your Beer Money?

Beer companies want promotions; your station stands to profit

I studied beer for most of a semester in college.

In one of the most interesting marketing classes I attended at Ohio University, the professor discussed beer, a product with many distinct brands yet similar attributes.

During the first lesson, the professor poured 10 different beers into glasses; we students had to identify them. Out of 30 kids, only three were able to identify more than three of the brand names correctly. The professor then introduced us to the concept of positioning a product to market it to a specific group.

This class taught me a lot about the power of positioning and, perhaps just as important, that beers will forever need advertising to brand and sell their product. Which brings me to the point of this article: Are you getting your fair share of beer money?


Beers primarily are after young men 21­­–34, so these suggestions are directed at radio stations targeted to reach that demo. (However, before you toss out the can with the suds, I’ve witnessed non-demo stations win over the local beer boys too; we’ll get to that at the end.)

If you’ve got great ratings in the target, you likely are getting called in for pitches already; but just because you have a seat at the table doesn’t mean you’ll get your unfair share. Beers want promotions, and they’re going to get them one way or the other … if not from the ratings winner, from someone else who knows how to play ball.

iStockphoto/Vladan Milisavljevic

Assuming it’s legal in your area for a radio station to “present” parties at bars, then by necessity you must deliver on this need. Beers love to “give” parties promoted by stations to their clients (bars) for free, because the clients assume you’ll drive a crowd to their premises. In turn, this allows the beer to pressure the bar to serve (more of) their product.

As voice-tracking has taken out so many live bodies at radio stations, the number of parties presented by stations has dropped. As a manpower solution, I have seen stations hire part-time professional “hosts” for bar parties – mobile DJ companies are great source of talent – and provide the “host” with attractive prizes and an on-air promo schedule to drive attendance. Sometime beers and bars ask for live broadcasts to drive attendance. Nothing wrong with airing a few 30-second on-air call-ins from the bar done by your “host.” To really impress, you could consider doing an entire live broadcast either on one of your HD channels or streamed live on your website.

The truth is that for the beers and bars, it is often as much about the theater of doing the “live show” as the number of actual listeners.

Action Item No. 2 in your pitch is branding. In how many ways can you include the beer’s brand name in your major events (where they may also get pouring rights)? Or in your on-air programming? “The Molson 90’s Six-Pack at Six … when you get six in a row from last century.”

Perhaps most important, you’ve got to have decent merchandising.

This is where I’ve witnessed stations out of the demo grab the biggest order. Merchandising includes anything the local distributor can use to their advantage for the clients or their own sales force. Hot tickets to concerts and events are a winner. Electronics always bring a smile – imagine being able to offer a 12-pack of iPads for a certain spending level! My personal favorites are prizes that can’t typically be purchased. The tried-and-true include: The “best seats in the house,” a couch on the side of the concert stage; a voicemail message recorded on your mobile phone by a favorite recording artist; lunch with a celebrity; and being guest photographer at a professional sports event, with your pics being placed on the station’s website.

Succeeding with beer companies and distributors also is very much a relationship business. Your reps must invest the time to really get to know the decision-makers. This takes patience. It helps if the rep likes … what else? The specific beer!

The author is president of Lapidus Media. Contact: [email protected].