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Take a Poll: It’s Your Opportunity to Shine

It creates a lot of buzz, both for the business community and for the media outlet conducting the survey, whose logo appears on every award certificate.

Every year local newspapers and magazines across America conduct their annual “best of” surveys, polling their readers on their attitudes and experiences in the marketplace. The results of these surveys generally serve to promote good business throughout the community.

They also provide beaucoup opportunities for (surprise!) selling advertising.

Typical survey questions include:

  • • Who’s your favorite local TV news personality (sportscaster, weatherperson)?
  • • Who in town makes the best pizza (hamburger, salad, sandwich, dessert)?
  • • What’s the best Chinese (Korean, Greek, Mexican, Italian) restaurant?
  • • Your favorite bakery (ice cream shop, watering hole, espresso stand, place to meet the opposite sex)?
  • • Favorite local doctor (bank teller, college professor, city official)?
  • • What local establishment has the friendliest staff? … the cleanest facility? … the funkiest decor? … the best smell? … the most attractive waitress? … the best bartender?

Obviously this is just a sampling of the types of companies and individuals that can be included in a “Best of Community” poll.

©iStockphoto/Devonyu But what a marvelous opportunity! It’s loaded with benefits and no negatives that I can think of. (OK, so the losers don’t get to say they’re #1 this year. So what? They might be on top next year, if they work at it.)

At the end of the survey, results are tallied and the winners receive framed certificates to display proudly in their businesses for all the world to see. It creates a lot of buzz, both for the business community and for the media outlet conducting the survey, whose logo appears on every award certificate.

So why is it that — in most of the markets I’m familiar with, anyway — this promotion seems to be the exclusive province of the print media? (“Ol’ Smudgy,” as my friend Jay Mitchell likes to call ’em.)

I’m sure there must be exceptions where the local radio station is running this show, thereby positioning itself as a community leader. But I don’t know of any.

It’s a real opportunity for radio to shine, my friend. And so easy to put together!

  • • Let salespeople and air staff help create the survey form, identifying the obvious categories along with a few esoteric ones for fun.
  • • Write some promos inviting listeners to visit your Web site and fill out the survey form.
  • • Take printed copies to remotes.
  • • Pass them out at supermarkets, shopping malls, anywhere large numbers of people congregate. E-mail them to listeners.
  • • Offer some nice prizes in a random drawing from among all completed surveys. (Great way to build a loyal listener database for future promotions.)

Make it fun, make it worthwhile for people to fill out the questionnaire and you’ll get lots of participation.

Then, make a big deal of announcing and saluting the winners. Use some trade and take ’em out to dinner to present the awards. Create “theater” by broadcasting the presentations. Or take videos and upload them to YouTube and your own site. Share them on Facebook.

Make it as big a deal as you can imagine, and you’ll ride on the goodwill for a long time.

Best of all, you’ll get to do it again next year. And the next. Once you’ve staked this promotion as yours, who’s going to steal it from you? It’s yours for as long as you want to keep it going.

A favor. If your station is doing this promotion, now or in the future, would you kindly drop me a line and let me know about it?

Thanks. And good selling!

Rod Schwartz, owner/creative director of Grace Broadcast Sales and a 36-year radio sales veteran, shares stories, commercials and advertising lessons in his blog. He invites radio advertising professionals to join the conversation Contact him at[email protected].