Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Posts Tagged ‘radio

It’s time to get horizontal

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product2This blog has been chock full of ideas and concepts on how you can increase awareness of your product. We’ve talked about on-air advertising (television and radio), print, outdoor, Internet, direct response, economic challenges, the power of social media, and Guerilla Marketing. We’ve even talked about co-op advertising. This week, we’re going to explore the idea behind horizontal marketing.

Let’s say you make…oh, I don’t know…in keeping with the horizontal theme: mattresses. You want to increase the awareness of your product so you know you have to advertise. The problem is your particular product isn’t something that people can easily browse in a store like a candy bar or shirts. Your product has to be a destination for a shopper in order for a potential customer to lay hands on it. Beyond traditional media buys and storewide sales events, what else can you do?

Similar to the concept I forwarded with co-op advertising, are there interconnected businesses that you have a relationship with where you can co-promote together? For example, maybe there is a home improvement store or a bed sheet manufacturer where you can build a partnership. With the purchase of a mattress, you get a set of bet sheets or a gift card to a home improvement store to further improve your bedroom. Then in buying the traditional media, you can split costs with your partner thereby lowering your advertising costs.

If you own a mattress store, it’s smart to think vertically and split ad costs with mattress manufacturers, but there are endless possibilities horizontally as well, all of which can lower your marketing costs and increase your exposure.

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Say that again…and again

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shouting1Having an on-target message is only part of the formula you need for a successful marketing campaign. What good is a solid, well-crafted message if no one hears it? Putting it into the right channels (tv, radio, etc.) to reach the right demographic is crucial. But if you ever have the chance to talk shop with a media buyer, you will hear them talk about reach and frequency.

Reach is putting the right message into the right channel to reach the desired people. If you’re a mom-and-pop business with a small local hardware store, do you really need to spend the money reaching across the entire state or will a local campaign be more effective?

What I wanted to talk about this week is the importance of frequency. It is often the most neglected part of the media buy. Failure in mass media marketing often comes at the hands of well-intentioned, but inexperienced media reps that overestimate an advertiser’s goals or budget.

The narrative often starts with a sales rep that makes a living from selling one form of media and one single channel (one group of radio stations, one newspaper, one tv channel, etc.) and a neophyte business owner. They have been trained and know the power of their particular offering. They have a meeting with a business owner who is looking to grow their business. They may not need to buy the entire coverage area that the sales reps offers, but that’s all the rep can offer. The campaign starts, it’s more expensive than the business owner needs (the business owner is paying a premium for reach without any benefit from it) and pulls the plug on the whole program early, thereby ending all frequency. Even in the areas where the message would have had effect, the ending of the campaign early ends all chance of success.

In today’s ultra-saturated media world, you have to reach your desired audience over and over again just to start to penetrate the clutter. It’s not enough to state your message and disappear. You have to repeat it over and over again. Say it enough times, and people start to recall your message on their own. Say it enough times in a respectable medium and it will have legitimacy.

Say it enough times and it will be effective.

Let’s talk about me

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wordofmouthLet’s say I’m your ad agency. You hire to me to create compelling messages that talk about how great you are, how you deliver more (service, value, expertise, whatever) than your competition. And then we channel that message into all the right places for you to reach new customers. Finally, we repeat that message enough to cut through the clutter and reach into the consciousness of the audience.

Success? Likely, yes. But then what? It’s one thing to toot your own horn. It’s quite another to have someone do that for you. When interviewing for a job, you get the chance to talk all about how great you are. If you’re then a serious candidate, then the employer’s going to want to talk to others that know you.

If you’re bidding on new work, your prospect will likely want to know what you’ve done in the past. Then they’re going to want to talk to people you’ve done work for.

Third party information about you carries a lot of weight and credibility. When conducting B2C business, why not put that power to work as well?

How? Testimonials. Get others to talk about you.

I’ve done it successfully in TV commercials, in radio spots, in print collateral, and even in my own personal online bio (check out my LinkedIn page).

In the past, you’ve heard me suggest that you should talk to your customers. It’s vital to know what they think of you. If you’re doing your job well, then it’s likely you will have no shortage of people wanting to sing your praises. Get them to write something. Ask them if they’d be willing to be on camera or in front of a microphone.

It’s the closest thing you can get to buying word-of-mouth advertising.

Written by Jeff York

April 25, 2009 at 10:17 am

Huddling the family around the Netflix box

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home_content_box1Remember gathering the family together to sit by the old radio and listening to Amos ‘n’ Andy, The Adventures of the Thin Man, and Fibber McGee & Molly? Of course not. You’re likely too young. Most of that generation is gone.

TV burst onto the screen and as a society and we still participated in that new medium as a family unit. With only a few choices to select from (and many shows ported over from radio), prime time meant prime family time.

Enter cable with the ability to deliver a myriad of programming choices. Now seeking particular demographics became feasible. Audiences fractured. Broadcast, still dominant, sees its numbers dwindle to the point that it may be impossible to top M*A*S*H’s finale even with a Superbowl broadcast.

With the further splintering effects of a society that operates at a quicker pace, family activities prevented a coming together like we had seen in the past. Even the evening dinner came a casualty.

Enter today’s economic predicament. Shaky income situations leads to reassessment of free time and differing choices on what we spend money on. The bottom line, as I wrote about before, does it have value?

At the same time is the development of IP delivered content. Through vehicles such as iTunes, Hulu, and TiVo, we can get the content we want when we want it. And with the ability to connect devices to the big screen TVs we now have in our living rooms, we’re not confined trying to watch the content on a small iPod screen or sitting at our desktop computer. We can now sit down and watch the content where it was meant to be consumed.

So, I pose this question in hopes that it sparks a conversation; if we aren’t going out as much and re-assessing how we’re spending money, does that not invite a return to the days of quality family time? If we’re able to receive content according to both our tastes and time schedules via The Netflix Player or Apple TV, could we not begin to see the opportunity as advertisers of reaching large, demographically heterogeneous audiences again?

Now I’m an advertiser. What does that mean?

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This past week, I was talking with a friend whom also happens to own her own business.  Recently, she’s been thinking about putting spots on TV which she’s never done before.  One of the questions she asked me was how will that make her look.  Does being on TV make a business look “desperate?”

This is actually a very viable question and one I’ve never really considered before.  Within her business peers and competitors, she was concerned that this would impact how they would view her.  In her line of business, how she appears among her peers is important.

If she has a commercial created and puts it on the air, what does that say about her business?  What does that say about her?

Advertising means telling as large an audience as possible about you and your business.  It’s a very effective way to establish your brand and to create points of differentiation in the minds of potential customers.  Advertising means that you believe in your business enough to put marketing dollars behind it.  Since no business has 100% market share in their segment, every business can increase sales with smart marketing.

All of that said, the key has to be smart marketing.  It starts with the message.  Is it right for the medium you plan to use?  Does it exactly match the image of your business you want to portray?  If not, then you can actually damage your business by releasing that message into the public.

Let’s say you now have a perfectly crafted mass media message that will cut through the clutter.  The job is only half done.  Next is finding the right medium for delivering the message.  As I stated in my series of posts on the various mediums, there are a wide range of media to use for delivering your message:  television, radio, newspapers, Internet, direct mail, and outdoor.  Deciding which to use requires thought as to what type of audience you want to reach, the message you want to convey, and budget.  Then you have to make sure that your placement within that media works for you as well.  Is your print ad buried in the paper or did you get a good placement?  Did the TV station sell you ROS (run of schedule) and then put your spot in Jerry Springer?  Did the radio station give you first spot in break or bury you in the middle of the break?

It’s vital that you talk with a good media buyer before committing to a media plan.  Speaking with a rep from a media company will only give you the perspective of why you should advertise only on their station.  Once you’ve purchased a plan from them and started to establish yourself as an advertiser, then good reps will start to have an eye out for you on other media…and you better still be buying time/space with them.  Media buying firms have the whole picture in mind and generally can secure better rates than you can on your own.  They make their money from ad agency commissions that media companies give for placing buys with them.  If you place the buy directly, the media company keeps that commission for themselves.

The bottom line is advertising is good for your business.  If your competition is already advertising, then by not doing so you will start to lose market share.  If they are not, then you immediately place yourself above them in the public’s mind and will start to reap the benefits shortly.  You should know that by putting yourself out there as an advertiser, you should expect that other media reps will start to call on you.  It’s wise to find a good media partner (buyer or ad agency) that you are comfortable with and are confident that they have your best intentions in mind.

Advertising Media – Part 2: Radio

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My multi-part series in advertising mediums continues this week with radio.

An older medium than television, radio is more predominant in people’s lives than they might suspect. Television offers advertisers a single daily opportunity to reach maximum audience numbers during Prime Time. Radio offers two, but only Monday through Friday. These periods are called Drive Time and represent when people are typically using radio: driving to work in the morning and from work in the afternoon/evening. During these drive time periods, advertisers can reach a large audience across many demographics by focusing their buys and maximizing promotional and/or contesting opportunities.

Outside of drive times, the demographic that uses radio changes substantially. Some people are lucky enough to be able to listen to the radio while they are at work and we are sometimes exposed to radio while in public shopping areas. However, the bulk of radio users outside of drive times are either retirees or teens. If you get the chance to read audience trend information, you will find radio formats such as oldies, talk, and top 40 will hold an audience all day long while other formats have their strong spikes during their drive times and holes elsewhere.

While the demographic composition of a television station will vary by show, in radio the “show” is the format programmed by the station. Therefore 24 hours a day/7 days a week, you can predict what kind of demographic is listening to a radio station. Exceptions might include college radio where formats change every 3 hours or so depending on the student DJ or speciality programming such as “Breakfast with the Beatles” weekend mornings on a station not typically running classic rock/oldies or the odd Jazz programming block.

One of the biggest challenges to successfully buying mass media advertising is finding a way to cut through the clutter and finding the ear of an attentive audience. Radio faces the same clutter issues (including Clear Channel despite their ill-advised Less is More initative), but also must contend with a more transitory audience than television does. The length of a show on television is 30 minutes for sitcom, 60 minutes for drama. In radio, the length of a show is only the length of a song. People are more in tune with changing between stations sooner than they are with TV.

Additional issues with constructing an effect radio message include being bound to only having access to the aural senses. Unlike television where producers can create compelling visuals to go with the audio, radio spot producers must rely in the listeners creating visuals in their mind’s eye.

It’s been my experience that purchasing radio is best done in concert with a strong television campaign. Radio can do an excellent job of reinforcing a branding message that was otherwise started. Should an advertiser be restricted to radio only, they would be well advised to talk to their local radio sales rep about finding ways of integrating their advertising messaging with DJ content and making it part of song wrap-arounds as much as possible rather than letting a traffic manager drop their spot in the middle of an extended break.

I hope this short insight into radio buying proves to be helpful to you. I’d love to hear any feedback you might have about your personal experiences in buying radio and what’s worked for you. Of course, if you need help with radio or any other kind of media buy, please give my company a call.

Written by Jeff York

April 13, 2008 at 7:57 pm