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Thread: Too many eggs in one basket?

  1. #1

    Too many eggs in one basket?

    Radio in this market, music or talk, has become a car-based life form. At least 80% of the local spots are auto dealers, new and used; and almost all with the shouting-pitchman approach, each dealer trying to outscream the other. I can't help thinking this will eventually prove counterproductive for both clients and stations, and may in fact backfire on both. Also curious as why this is happening and suspect at least some salespeople are only going after "low hanging fruit;" in other words, a salesman who golfs with Joe Plaidpants every week knows he can make his quota just by selling to his ol' buddy. Local ads in other usual categories (restaurants, drugstores, gas stations, hardware/lumber, etc.) are comparatively rare; and local placement by national accounts almost non-existent (except for per-inquiry stuff.) How's things where you are?

  2. #2
    My complaint about advertising on radio is we have not found a way to make advertising an element of the programming. We view advertising as a totally different animal and we have taught listeners advertising is bad.

    Having been on the streets going business to business is pretty stressful. Everybody thinks we're the used car salesman type but that's not how it works. We go out and try to reach the potential buyer, let them get to know us and feel comfortable dealing with us. Next we try to learn what they want for their business and then attempt to make that happen for the money can can budget. It's not always an easy thing to do. Sometimes part of the initial process is to be treated poorly by the potential advertiser as they either exercise their power over you or they are defensive because they're scared they'll buy anything you offer. If you keep your cool, you can typically break through.

    Sometimes advertisers have a very specific way to advertise. It's their way or the highway. You either have to walk away or take the order and swallow hard. Typically you have to take the order because your boss at the station demands so much money from you each month to keep your job.

    And the strange fact is the guy you golf with (if you golf) has the easiest time saying no to you. A friend almost never buys where the client you aren't friends with almost always will. At least that has been my experience.

    It is very risky to dictate the commercial to the client. It's about like walking into a convenience store to buy a Coke but with money at hand, the guy at the register says the Coke is not right for you and you need a Dr. Pepper. The more you persist you want the Coke, they guy tries to push the Dr. Pepper on you. Generally you get so mad you walk out without completing the sale or eventually you get the Coke. In other words as much as the salesperson tries, most of the time it is what the buyer wants that goes on the air with the salesman hoping it will produce enough results to get another buy. It can take months to get a person to the point of buying from you the first time, so you usually aren't in a position to walk away from an order since you have to eat and your boss thinking if you don't bring in that order you might not be that good and another person might do better.

    So, with that said, how do we make advertising, the necessary evil that pays the bills, become an integrated part of programming? I wish I really had that answer.

    I think we like boxes. We have to create something we can wrap our heads around. Forget the 60 second unit. Maybe we get back to the basics. The client wants this result. The sales person devises a plan with programming that has a good shot of producing the result the client is paying you to achieve. It is not a number of commercials but what it takes to create the results in a way that is not a negative to the audience/format.

    60s and 30s are useless. Why not think message. How many times have copywriters been told to stick with one point in the spots? If we need to get across 1 point, we end up decorating that point with 75% fluff. Does Geico really need 60 seconds to say if you'll call them you'll save 15% or more on your auto insurance?

    As for the quality of those commercials, that's still a problem. If the station is big enough, it has a copywriter who takes the sketchy notes from the salesperson and comes up with a spot. In smaller stations the salesperson writes the spot. Keep in mind most sales people are in the field all day. You write an order at 10 in the morning, you might not be back in the office until 5. That spot might need to start tomorrow or get cleared by the client before he leaves on that long weekend. The point is at 5pm the poor copywriter might only be able to devote 10 minutes to developing a spot because there are so many to rack out in such a short time.

    Another issue is programming and sales are typically at opposite ends of the building and have little knowledge of what happens on the opposite side of the building. It's usually programming versus sales not programming and sales figuring out how to get the best result. If programming knew about sales and sales knew about programming we might do a better job. Programming knows the listener and sales knows the client. Why not work on the same page to develop results?

    Last, nobody has training. Sales usually is told to go see these people and walk in the orders. The focus is only on bringing in cash and that is rightfully the top issue. As a result the sales side hasn't a clue about programming and programming hasn't a clue of how hard the salesperson worked to get the sale. The result is both sides generally work against the needed results: by the sales side not knowing the listener and programming not understanding how sales works.

    So what do we do to create something the listeners don't think of as another damned bunch of commercials that are not worthy of listening to and how do we teach and coach clients the best option for achieving results? The crazy thing is NOT advertising in the conventional way is frequently more effective for the client than conventional advertising. I ran a contest for listeners funded by a jewelry store. Typically they had a sale. That year they ran the contest with us and they tripled sales over the same period the previous year. We never ran a commercial for them, just a name mention of the grand prize. They were a rare client. The owner had managed the station I worked for some 20 years prior.

    So, where does this 'thinking' come from? I was on air and in programming 10 years, forced into sales and eventually a General Manager of a station. I've been in the business 35 years and while we have made many advances, we have made some big blunders and I believe we are in that rocky transition period where we are trying to find our place again. I have faith in radio pulling it off and I suspect it will be great. Meanwhile we need to keep experimenting where we can and think outside the box while not forgetting the medium's strengths.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Aberdeen, WA and Allyn, WA
    Posts
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    While I understand what you are saying, you must be in an entirely different situation than we are. We do build business relationships. We do work together with clients. Clients are good. Advertising is good. Marketing makes the economy go round. You've thrown out lots of generalities and negative perceptions. I haven't found them to be nearly as prevalent as you portray.
    KSWW (AC) "Sunny" 102.1-101.1 -- KJET (Hot AC) "The Jet" 105.7-93.1 -- KANY (Hot Country) "Bigfoot" 107.3 -- KBKW (NewsTalk) "The Talk of Grays Harbor" 1450-100.5 -- KSWW HD-2 (Classic Rock) "The Quake" 103.9 -- KSWW HD-3 "Timber Country" 94.7<br />Keeping radio locally-owned on the Washington Coast.<br />Still using a microphone - 6:10-7:00 am - www.kbkw.com

  4. #4
    The relationship is everything. There is nothing greater than you and the client on the same page working to reach the same goal. Then the rest of the staff picks up the ball and dazzles the both the client and me. Then we watch the goal being met and sometimes exceeded. In such instances it is not sales at all but a marriage of businesses working for each other's continued success, working to take each other up another notch on the ladder. No, advertising is not bad but as an industry we have not worked at making it a part of programming versus an interruption in programming.

    I worked several smaller markets where there was no training of sales people and the idea was to bring in enough to keep us going for another day. That meant you tended to try for the businesses that liked to have bunches of sales and less time trying to understand the business and their goals, developing plans for them to get there with a dollar amount they're comfortable with.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by bturner View Post
    My complaint about advertising on radio is we have not found a way to make advertising an element of the programming. We view advertising as a totally different animal and we have taught listeners advertising is bad.
    I'm a more-or-less outside observer -- I'm on the TV side of the business -- and I see EXACTLY what bturner is saying. Advertising is intentionally split off from the programming. It's bunched in large batches so the station can say "we only interrupt the music once an hour" or "now for another 10 songs in a row". (I wonder who's dumb enough to buy the last spot in a 5-minute commercial break? )

    (and I wish I could say we don't do the same thing in TV -- but we do..)

    One wonders whether this procedure brings short-term gains at the expense of the long-term viability of commercial broadcasting. The station may have sky-high numbers when the commercial break hits, but how much of that audience vanishes the second they hear the bumper? How long before the advertiser figures out that, numbers aside, people aren't hearing their message?

    And I think radio *has* figured out how to make advertising part of the programming, but they forgot back in the 1960s. TV is beginning to relearn. Watch The Amazing Race. (or any of a number of other programs) Contestants are carrying around the Travelocity Roaming Gnome. They're driving a Ford Focus to their next pit stop. The advertising *is* part of the programming - you can't tune out unless you want to miss the program itself.
    ==
    Doug Smith
    Pleasant View, TN

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by JeffM View Post
    Radio in this market, music or talk, has become a car-based life form. At least 80% of the local spots are auto dealers, new and used; and almost all with the shouting-pitchman approach, each dealer trying to outscream the other. I can't help thinking this will eventually prove counterproductive for both clients and stations, and may in fact backfire on both. Also curious as why this is happening and suspect at least some salespeople are only going after "low hanging fruit;" in other words, a salesman who golfs with Joe Plaidpants every week knows he can make his quota just by selling to his ol' buddy. Local ads in other usual categories (restaurants, drugstores, gas stations, hardware/lumber, etc.) are comparatively rare; and local placement by national accounts almost non-existent (except for per-inquiry stuff.) How's things where you are?
    One factor that has changed the business model is syndicated and vt'd programming. Stations used to do remote broadcasts from those auto dealers and other local business establishments. Other advertisers would often "drop in" on the remote to schmooze with station staff and customers and , of course, get a bit of time to tout their own wares.

    Difficult to do when most of your programming is Rush or Hannity or Ryan Seacrest.

    -

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