Historian and academic Steuart Henderson Britt once opined, "Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does." Here is an epic account of how a state agency in Maine with an awesome product to sell, stopped winking in the dark and used Portland radio to successfully market hundreds of Guide books to Maine residents and tourists.
The Maine Coastal Program, a division of Maine's Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry is responsible for selling a guide which provides details to how the public can access Maine's 5300 miles of shoreline. The Maine Coastal Public Access Guide (MCPAG) is a picture- laden, three-volume guide to over 700 publicly-accessible shore sites along the coast of Maine from Kittery to Calais. The Guide includes boat launches, beaches, nature preserves, parks, hiking trails, and other scenic areas. The Guide's local and regional maps can help plan a day, a week, a season or a lifetime, visiting other coastal access sites in the area.
Winking In The Dark
According to Theresa Torrent, Senior Planner for the Maine Coastal Program, "Public access to the shoreline is a priority for the Maine Coastal Program." To fulfill this objective, the MCPAG was created and first became available in late 2013. And that's when the "winking in the dark began."
"Initially," said Theresa, "The MCPAG was marketed through emails to partner departments, colleagues, press-releases and the department website. Sales were sporadic." This all changed in November of 2014 when the state invested in a three week radio campaign on WCLZ, a Portland radio station.
"It was my idea," explained Theresa. "I am a WCLZ listener and knew that the station's programming fit well with our department's objectives. I also was aware that other coastal conservation projects had been successful through strategic marketing and sponsorships on WCLZ."
Radio Station Assets Were Leveraged For Success
During the initial conversation with the station, it was determined that a good way to ensure the success of a radio campaign for MCPAG was to leverage the parasocial relationship that the station's on-air personalities have with their listeners (see: Radio DJs: Friends We Haven't Met Yet).
Jenn Gondek and Randi Kirshbaum, two of the stations' most listened to personalities, were engaged to attest to the features and the benefits of purchasing the guide. Click below to hear a sample of one of the commercials:
The results of the campaign were overwhelming. "Literally overnight we began receiving orders for MCPAG which increased daily throughout the period of the campaign," said Theresa. "Our sales went from zero to hundreds of orders in just three weeks. Clearly, using Portland radio was a successful way to market the guide."
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