A Great Question from a Sales Rep

Chris Byrnes – ByrnesMedia

I sat in on a weekly sales meeting recently at one of the stations we have the pleasure of consulting. I like meeting with sales people, as it gives me an opportunity to update them on programming, address any concerns, and answer questions. I also get to hear the good the bad and the ugly about the radio station, and their competitors, from the people who are on the street each day, and sometimes I learn things that no one else has mentioned!

During the Q&A session I was asked “What do you say to a client you have been pitching to get on the air for some time when he/she finally says OK, I’ve got $300 to spend and the ads had better work or I’ll never advertise on your station again.” The GSM asked if I would respond and here is what I said:

I would tell this client that I am sorry I cannot take his/her money because with only a $300 investment, I cannot give you the minimum number of commercials required to make your campaign work. Perhaps when your budget is a little bigger we can put together a marketing plan that we both feel confident will work.

I asked others in the room what this rep might have done differently and one of his colleagues suggested that if the right questions had been asked during the discovery process, and the rep walked the client through a proper customer needs analysis, he would have educated the client about how to advertise effectively and established their budget. We then got into a discussion about the three most common reasons why some radio campaign do not work effectively and I thought I’d share these today:

The creative message is wrong: The creative message must be carefully crafted for the ear and not the eye which is why taking copy from the client’s ad in the newspaper often results in a radio commercial that does not work on radio. There are lots of rules about what should and should not be in a radio ad, and that, in and of itself, could be a topic for a future, but here are my top 10:

  1. Use an emotional headline to grab attention
  2. Sell a clear customer benefit
  3. There must be a definite call to action
  4. Don’t cram too many ideas into the one ad.
  5. Fewer words often results in a more powerful commercial
  6. Don’t scream and shout at the audience
  7. Keep phone numbers out of radio ads, unless it is easy to remember 877-877-877
  8. Avoid clichés such as “The best kept secret in town” or “Here to serve you better”
  9. The copy must solve the customer’s problem, not the client’s
  10. Use the “theatre of the mind” so make the copy stand out

There have been lots of books written about effective creating writing for radio and I recommend you read a book written by talented Canadian writer Ray Ellis, called “Solve the right problem.” http://www.wray-ellis.com/downloads/solve-the-right-problem-bundle/

Not enough frequency in the campaign: This is the number of times the commercial could be heard by potential customers over a period of time, typically a week. Roy Williams has done a lot of work in this area and says the that the magic number is 21 if you are running a branding campaign. You need to broadcast 21 messages per week for a campaign to be effective. Less than that and you are not doing your client justice and the campaign will not be as effective. More than that and you may be wasting the client’s money.

Roy has written a lot about effective advertising and if you are in the radio business I am sure you subscribe to his weekly memo and check out his website. Here are a couple of other things Roy says when it comes to frequency

Special Events or Sales: To advertise a special event on radio, (like a concert) you should schedule an ad to air just before the event begins, then move backward in time, scheduling one spot per hour until you have run out of ad budget. Generally, a special event schedule should be at least thirteen spots per day, 6am – 7pm, for at least five days prior to the event. If you have the available budget, add a spot an hour during the evening and overnight hours for a total of 24 spots per day per station. Sixty-five spots should be considered an absolute minimum schedule on each of the stations you plan to use.

Long-Term – To Make Your Business Name a Household Word: The real power of radio, however, is long-term memory, or “top of mind awareness.” Smart advertisers are those who set out to win the customer’s heart long before she needs their product. Their only goal is to be the company she thinks of first and feels the best about whenever her need arises. Smart advertisers make no attempt to predict the moment of the customer’s need but they buy enough repetition to ensure their company will immediately spring to mind whenever such need arises.

Keep doing it: Once you commit to running 21 ads per week you simply need to keep doing it. Yes, the most effective way to advertise on the radio is to run radio ads 52 weeks a year. Roy Williams says “To become a household word, you must buy at least twenty-one radio ads per week (plus or minus two ads), per station, 6am to 7pm, fifty-two weeks per year, on as many stations as you can afford. Plan to endure minimal results during the first eight to fourteen weeks of your schedule. This is known as the ‘chickening-out period,’ when you will probably spend a lot more on radio advertising than you will see in results.”

Running a branding campaign of 21 ads per week for 52 weeks, providing the creative is correct, will absolutely make a client top of mind with their potential customers. I may not need a plumber today, but when that pipe bursts in my house and water is running everywhere I will call the plumber who is top of mind. If that plumber only advertises a few weeks a year, I will not remember them. 10 years ago, people would crack open the Yellow Pages and most would select the plumber they either recognised or the plumber with the largest ad in the Yellow Pages. Today most people will Google “plumber” in their city and look at the list that comes up, but they are all the same size. Which plumber do they choose? Research shows that people are most likely to choose the plumber they recognise or the plumber that they have heard about. Therefore the plumber that advertises on the radio 52 weeks a year is more likely to get that call. Radio is the best medium to use for a business to become top of mind.

If a client does not have the budget for 21 ads a week 52 weeks a year, sell them 21 ads a week for 26 weeks a year, so they are on every other week. The other option is to dominate a day-part such as PM Drive where they run a smaller number of commercials over a 26 or 52-week time frame.

Sales consultant Paul Weyland says the biggest mistake most retail sales reps make is not asking for a big enough order or for a long enough campaign. Paul recommends once you establish the client’s needs, you present a five-year plan to help grow their business and review the plan from time to time. I talked to a sales reps recently who does this and he told me he just signed the biggest order in that radio station’s history when he convinced a client of the benefits of a five-year advertising agreement. This sales rep told me that he intends to do this as often as possible from this point forward.

There are two other gems of wisdom from Roy Williams that are worth sharing:

Radio is an active medium in an active society: Passive forms of advertising simply list merchandise or tell you where a product is available. Radio is an active medium capable of stirring emotion, creating demand, and selling your product or service. Today’s hotly competitive marketplace demands an active medium. That’s radio. Clients are finding that Facebook and some of the other digital products fail to cut through and grow results. But Radio has been doing that for 95 years since WEAF in New York ran a commercial for The Hawthorne Court Apartments in Jackson Heights.

Confusing “response” with “results:”  The goal of advertising is to create a clear awareness of your company and its Unique Selling Proposition.   Unfortunately, many advertisers evaluate their ads by the comments they hear from the people around them. The slickest, clearest, funniest, most creative and most different ads are the ones most likely to generate these comments.  See the problem?  When we confuse “response” with “results” we create “attention getting ads” which say absolutely nothing.

Sales reps are successful when they solve the client’s problems, and providing the creative is right, the frequency is correct, and the flight is run over a long period of time, the client should expect to see a return on investment of 5 to 1 or better depending on the product or service. By the way I recently heard from the from the sales rep who asked the question mentioned above. He went back to the client and sold them a 12-month campaign running 21 ads a week.