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Success Stories

Max Media Goes SkyHigh

4-2-2012

Max Media Denvers newly appointed Director of Integrated Media, Grant Wittstruck (pictured), has wasted no time bringing in new direct digital dollars for his stations by launching SkyHighVillage.com. Grant, who traded the corn fields of Sioux City, Iowa for the mountains of the mile high city, says his strategy centers on bringing small market Radio values to create a big market digital platform to engage listeners, encourage community connection and extend their commitment to helping local direct business.

As Max Media launches www.SkyHighVillage.com this week we asked Wittstruck about the strategy behind it and for some ideas you can borrow to generate more interactive revenue for your stations.

MAGNUSON: Grant, what is SkyHighVillage all about and why did you choose to make this your first initiative?
WITTSTRUCK: SkyHighVillage.com is a community portal that will feature useful content for listeners and a way for them to connect with each other and with local businesses. I chose to do it first because I knew it was something businesses would get behind quickly. That way I could show some early wins to management and get sales people off to the right start and feeling good about the interactive products well be creating for their clients. (Take a look at a business page here.)
 
MAGNUSON: Why did you pick the name SkyHighVillage?
WITTSTRUCK: In Denver, Mile High is really played out. So we settled on Sky High because it speaks to the city and region, it stands out from the Mile High clutter and its a nice metaphor for where wed like to take business for our advertisers. Then Village conveys the community vibe were building around the stations and online portal.

MAGNUSON: What are the main features of the platform and what are advertisers buying?
WITTSTRUCK: At launch it is designed to be a site kind of like Yelp where visitors can look up information about local businesses. Longer term well be incorporating more and more content and social media features to improve the value of the site for listeners. Advertisers can participate at several levels from a basic listing to being the Village Expert with a category exclusive Ask The Expert page.
What is Ask the Expert?

Its a feature where one business per category gets to be the community expert. Visitors to the site can ask questions about the particular area of expertise of the business/individual featured and the business expert gets to demonstrate their knowledge. The questions result in new leads and better awareness for the business. Weve gotten great interest in this feature from Auto Dealers and Auto Repair, Tax Accountants/CPAs, Healthcare, Legal and several other categories.

MAGNUSON: How much revenue is it brining in?
WITTSTRUCK: We gave it to sales about two weeks ago and were roughly a quarter of the way to our first year of goal of 150K for the site.

MAGNUSON: Nice! So if a station out there wanted to try something similar to this what are some suggestions you would give them?
WITTSTRUCK: One thing is its key to support it across your whole platform with live reads and promos on-air, promos and links on all the station websites, at events, on the station vehicle, social media, on-site at the sponsor businesses and in your advertising. Also because this type of program works best for smaller businesses, look to partner with local chambers and business associations. Offer the group some free publicity in exchange for helping to introduce the program to their members. Lastlymake the introductory price point for the basic sponsorship an easy 1-call close for your sales people and make the agreement long term so its lower maintenance for everyone.

MAGNUSON: And then last question. Youve gotten off to a heck of a strong startwhat are the three most important things an interactive director can do to make sure they get off to the right start when they first take the position?
WITTSTRUCK:  First Figure out whats being given away free...and stop it. Even if its a banner buried in a page somewhere deep take free and added value out of the equation. You dont give away ads for free on the broadcast dont do it online.

Second Identify what you already have that is uniquely valuable and find a way to monetize it. Dont overlook anythingnumbers on your stream, a podcast or blog that is particularly popular, anyone on staff that is a social media monster, etc... Build a package around it, help your sales people identify a few good prospects for it and put a price on it that will close quickly. Get deals first and put some pressure on your inventory. Success leads to success and you can worry about driving rate later.

Third Get creative. The web sets you free to do pretty much anything you want so go talk to advertisers and ask them what would get them excited or what might help them meet their advertising and business challenges. Then custom build a solution for them. If it starts with their idea and you come up with a solution that meets their specific need your chance of closing them goes way up!

MAGNUSON:  Theres a fourth thing a person can do.
WITTSTRUCK:  Whats that?

MAGNUSON:  Just copy you.
[Laughter]
WITTSTRUCK: Thats true though. There are companies out there in radio and outside of radio that are doing really cool things that you as an Interactive Director or even a sales person should be aware of. Because there are no rules online, there is no reason your station cant borrow a good idea and adapt it to fit your station brand and interactive content and revenue goals.

Grant Wittstruck is the Director of Integrated Media for Max Media Denver. If youd like to ask him about how he built SkyHighVillage or the way they are monetizing it email him at grant@maxmediadenver.com

Carl Magnuson is an online contributor to Radio Ink and the Co-Creator/Director of Sales for Social Radio an interactive personalized content player for Radio station websites. He can be reached at carl@socialradio.org.




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