Thursday, May 28, 2009

Does Not Advertising Mean You're Going Out of Business?

From today's "Radio Sales Today" newsletter, research on how not advertising during a recession can hurt your brand.

The research study, "Advertising's Impact in a Soft Economy," which was undertaken to determine whether stopping advertising during the recession could harm a business, takes an in-depth look at specific consumer perceptions regarding firms that continue to advertise in the current economy, as well as those that do not.

Not advertising can harm brand

Advertising appears to play a key role in consumers' view of how a business is doing, the study found. By not advertising, businesses may be sending a warning signal to current and potential customers, Ad-ology said.

For example, when consumers no longer see/hear advertising from an auto dealership during a down economy, 50 percent say they view the dealership as "struggling." In addition, 19 percent feel these dealers are "less willing to deal," and only 7 percent believe they "must be doing well."

On the other hand, when a dealership advertises during tough times, 34 percent believe the dealership to be committed to doing business.

Consumer perception is similar for stores and banks.

Click on the link for the full article. (Source: Marketing Charts, 05/25/09)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Speaking of Better Radio Ads...

Listening to the finalists in the 2009 Radio-Mercury Awards and reviewing the briefs for the integrated campaigns is as instructive as it is entertaining.

Don't miss the opportunity to gain valuable insights into the inner workings of these million-dollar campaigns. The education is priceless. The tuition, free.

Here's the link.

How to Make Better Radio Ads

Eleven of the top creative directors in the country participated in a round-table discussion in New York recently. They were gathered to judge entries in this year's Radio Mercury Awards, but they took some time after the judging to discuss the disconnect between the growth of Radio's audience (up by 3 million pairs of ears in 2008) and the decline in Radio's ad revenue (down by 9% in 2008).

Andrew Hampp's article in Advertising Age (the online version includes an 8-minute video excerpt from the roundtable) is enlightening and instructive, a valuable read for any radio advertising sales or creative professional.

Toward the end of the video, RAB President Jeff Haley talks about a Houston study by Coleman Research in which researchers observed listener behavior during 92,000 commercial "pods." Haley noted that the "breakaway" (listeners going elsewhere) was just 8%, even in the middle of a lengthy 6-minute break. The majority of listeners stayed with their station.

NOTE: That's not perception; that's measured behavior!

But if you listen carefully to this segment of the video, right after Mr. Haley mentions people listening to 92,000 commercial pods, one of the panelists interjects, "Poor people!"

Why did he say that?

Obviously, because many (if not most) ads on radio are notoriously "bad."
"Radio needs to get better before radio ads can get better," said Crispin's Bill Wright. "When I read a magazine, all the ads don't annoy me. When I watch TV, all the ads don't annoy me. Even when you do a good radio spot, it's still the best-looking house in a bad neighborhood."

There's our problem. And our opportunity. To change, one ad at a time, one client at a time, on stations across America, the quality of the commercials we write and produce.

Radio, as a medium, is powerful, versatile, and personal. It's everything an advertiser could ask for.

But radio advertising needs to improve, to exploit the full potential of our medium, to achieve its highest and best uses in the marketplace.

This is our job, our challenge, and our responsibility as radio advertising professionals. We can't make the industry better apart from making our commercials better. And that, my friend, is an individual operation.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What Does It Take to Create Good Radio Advertising?

"Creating great radio ads is hard work
and an acquired skill." - Bob McCurdy

Bob McCurdy is the president of Katz Marketing Solutions, the national marketing unit of the Katz Media Group, a division of Clear Channel Communications.

Right on, Bob!

That statement ought to be printed in 60-point boldface type, framed and posted at the desk of every radio advertising salesperson, sales manager, general manager, operations manager, production director, copywriter, producer, and board op at every radio station in America.

Right next to it should be posted a list of cliches* that from henceforth are banned and must never appear in a radio commercial without severe consequences to the perpetrator or perpetratrix.

Creating good radio commercials is painstaking, time-consuming work.

Anyone undertaking the responsibility of writing advertising for a client must understand the fundamentals of advertising. What works, what doesn't, and why. This information is readily available in books, on CD's, videos, online, in the library.

Writing good advertising involves an investment of time for research, to understand the advertiser's customers, as well as his product/service, market, competition.

It involves think-time, before and during the process of writing, editing, tweaking, refining and polishing, spinning words into gold.

It involves choosing an appropriate spokesman. Extensive casting opportunities may be out of reach for many stations, but thought should still be given as to who should deliver the message. Often the advertisers themselves make great spokespeople (I can hear the protests rumbling from the "professional" bench already. Don't bother. I've been writing for and coaching ordinary folks for years, decades really - with consistent, bankable results for the client! It CAN be done. Just takes a little more time, patience, and perseverance, that's all. Want to hear examples? I can provide you with plenty.)

Great production won't compensate for poor copy. If you can't have both, put your money into the copywriting. Great copy always trumps great production.

Invest in improving the quality of your advertising copy for clients and the inevitable improvement in their results will keep them on the air.

It's just that simple.

And because it is, there's no reason it can't be done.

*Cliches that should be forever banned from radio commercials include:

for all your ______ needs
conveniently located at ___________
the friendly folks at ___________
the professionals at ___________
your ________ headquarters
and much, much more
just in time for ________
like never before
the sale you’ve been waiting for
lowest prices of the year/season/ever
it’s that time of year again
we sell the best and service the rest
our service is second to none
our friendly, knowledgeable staff
you heard it right
it’s happening right now
(Season) is right around the corner

Bob McCurdy's article appeared in Media Post's Marketing Daily Commentary.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Google Radio Redux

The Wall Street Journal's Jessica E. Vascellaro does an excellent job of recapping the rise and fall of Google's moribund radio advertising initiative.

In a nutshell,
Google Inc.'s foray into selling radio ads was supposed to show how its online-advertising brainpower could revolutionize an old-fashioned people business.

The company teamed up with Chad and Ryan Steelberg, brothers who were sharp dressers and wore deep Southern California tans. They had a technology for transmitting, scheduling and tracking radio ads. "Google is going to conquer radio," boasted the exuberant Chad in 2006.

Instead, radio tripped up Google. The company is pulling the plug on its attempt to automate radio-ad sales on May 31, exposing how far Google is from its goal of grabbing a big chunk of the multibillion-dollar business of off-line ad sales.

A look at what went wrong shows that Google misjudged the capacity of its technology to work beyond the Web, and underestimated the human side of the business [emphasis mine]. Radio stations refused to turn over airtime to a computer algorithm that set prices far lower than their own rates. Big advertisers steered clear.

Good story. Good reminder that some things, like human relationships and interactions, are not reducible to automation.

Read the FULL STORY HERE (for as long as WSJ keeps it available to the public):

Friday, May 08, 2009

Radio Works for Constant Contact

Radio advertising works.

And not everyone is hurting these days.

Just ask the folks at Constant Comment, a provider of email marketing services.

Perhaps you've heard their ads running in radio network news broadcasts and syndicated programs.

How are the ads working? According to company President and CEO Gail F. Goodman:

Summarizing our results for the first quarter. Revenue was $28.1 million, an increase of 55% year-over-year and adjusted EBITDA came in at $1.7 million, which was up a 112% on a year-over-year basis.

During the quarter, all of our sales and marketing channels performed well. We believe our national radio advertising campaign helped drive much of the better than expected demand for our email marketing service. Equally important based on the statistical analysis we have recently completed national radio is delivering results within our cost expectations. We expect to continue national radio advertising in the fall following our usual seasonal marketing pullback across all of our acquisition channels during the summer months...

Read the transcript of Constant Contact's 5/7/09 conference call HERE.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - A Model for Radio

Wisconsin broadcaster Roger Utnehmer was recently named "Entrepreneur of the Year" by the Door County (WI) Economic Development Corp.

Utnehmer's online newspaper and website have become a model for broadcasters around the world.

Although he is a "radio guy" through and through (including stints as head of the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and board member of the Radio Advertising Bureau), the owner of four local radio stations recognized the potential and power of the Internet early on and, unlike many of his peers, embraced it with open arms, an open mind, and sufficient investment of financial and human resources to make it work.

And work it does.
Nicolet Broadcasting, Inc. — owners of WBDK (96.7 FM), WRKU (102.1 FM), WRLU (104.1 FM) and WSBW (105.1 FM) — has made significant capital investment and has experienced above-industry growth and a 400-percent increase in sales since moving its main studios and corporate offices to Door County in 2002. In 2007, Nicolet Broadcasting expanded its coverage in Door County when they introduced WSBW and opened a studio and office in Fish Creek. A recent article in a national broadcast industry trade publication cited Nicolet Broadcasting as one of the 30 best broadcast companies to work for, based on employee training, compensation and future financial security.

And while he certainly knows how to make a buck, he's no miser. Roger's stations donate one :30-second ad PER HOUR, 24/7, to non-profit and charitable causes. And Roger himself is glad to share the things he's learned about success with other broadcasters.

Congratulations, Roger. Thanks for setting the bar high for Radio, and for your willingness to share your ideas and experiences with other broadcasters.

Learn more about Roger's award HERE.