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(MARKETING) Does Your Marketing Suck? -- Pt. 2


Radio marketers need to re-examine familiar methodologies and question long-held assumptions in order to deliver results. We pick up where we left off in Pt. 1 with point No. 3.

3. Is there a belief that the station van builds the brand, attracts listeners, and is a crucial element in the marketing mix?
Before minivans, SUVs, and Hummers took over the streets, a radio stationís van stood out. When cruising around town or parked at a clientís place of business, the van Ė emblazoned with a bright station logo and encircled by enthusiastic listeners trying to get their hands on a free station t-shirt Ė attracted eyeballs and inspired excitement.

But with so many big vehicles now on the road, the novelty of a large station van is lost. On its own, its effectiveness as a creator of floor traffic for the client that hires it is questionable, and its ability to generate excitement among younger listeners is also suspect. As Hofstra University media professor John Mullen notes, ďWith so many distractions that are competing for listenersí attention, you have to ask yourself:  Is 'sending the van' a 1970s idea thatís out of step in 2012? Not only that, arenít there other creative things that stations can do to build business at a clientís location beyond sending a few staffers, a vehicle, and a box of t-shirts that always run out?"

Simply sending the van to a clientís place of business isnít enough to bring about the increase in customer traffic that your client is looking for. To augment the probability of attaining results, the vanís presence must have an irresistible WIIFM at its core in order to entice attendance. In other words, while the vanís presence may have been a compelling lure to attract a crowd in the past, it isnít any longer: There needs to be more thought and planning involved so that the client isnít just pleased by the customer turnout, heís blown away.

One possibility would be to heavily promote a contest on-air with a very attractive prize. To be eligible to win, listeners would need to be at the clientís place of business at a designated hour when the drawing would take place (the prize, of course, would be the product or service that is sold by the client). A twist on this idea could also build up your listener database: The contest would be open solely to event attendees who are enrolled in your loyal listener program.

To truly make a van event eventful, and to create value for the existence of the van, you canít just schedule it, send it, park it, and think that your job is over. The presence of the van at a clientís place of business or a local event must be strategically leveraged in order to attain the greatest benefits for your station and your client.

4. Is there a belief that social buzz around your station indicates the existence of a large and loyal listening audience?
When a stationís Facebook activity, Twitter conversations, and YouTube views start racking up big numbers, itís pretty exciting. It seems like something big is happening, and itís taking on an incredible life of its own. Many radio marketing chiefs interpret this attention as an indication that people love what their station is doing, that their marketing work is successful, and that their ratings are on the verge of going through the roof.

However, according to news site WND, a supposed correlation between social buzz and real world ratings is quite murky. The reason is simple: social buzz and social media metrics measure exchanges between your station (news, content, and brand) and your listeners, as well as the transmission of these exchanges with your listenersí social circles. Itís great for this heat to be emanating from your station, but in no way can it be interpreted as being an indication of anything other than your most ardent P1ís taking the time to pay attention to, interact with, and spread your content.

Having an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. is an essential marketing tactic for a radio station to support and embrace. But misinterpreting a healthy social media buzz surrounding your station can create a sense of dangerous complacency and unfounded over-confidence.

In the past two years, dozens of stations across the country with robust social media traction have flipped formats due to low PPM measurements and disappointing profits. Each of these stations had followers, likes, re-pins, and re-tweets out the wazoo, but in the end, station success isnít determined by social media metrics. Itís determined by the metrics that truly represent a stationís health or lack thereof: ratings and revenue.

Click for Part 1.

Rafe Gomez is a marketing and business strategy consultant.  His work has been featured on Fox News Channel, MSNBC, PBS, ABC News Radio, WCBS-AM,,, and more.  Heís also the host and producer of Rockmixx, an internationally syndicated classic rock mash-up feature.

(9/25/2012 6:34:26 AM)
It is indeed unfortunate that station ownership and management have had this "online saddle" slapped on their backs - and all that comes with it including the social media elements.

But then, these new responsibilities may be accepted with some relief - anything to avoid attending to the very first priorities - those of a massive improvement in local programming and commercial production. Excellent and possibly unwelcome material, Rafe.

- Ronald T. Robinson
(9/24/2012 12:21:51 PM)
Smart stuff from a smart guy. Nice going, Rafe!

- Charley C.

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