Radio Results Blog

The Spirit of Radio: Alive, Kicking, and Relevant to Your Advertising Plan

Posted by Matt Barnard on Fri, Mar 08, 2019 @ 04:34 PM

If I wanted to explain to you why radio is still such a relevant, well-loved medium, I could bury you in Nielsen data and statistics. I could fill your in-box with with pie charts, graphs, and audience studies.

Or I could pull out a vinyl platter and drop the needle on some fine, 40-year-old progressive rock (hint: I’m not rooting for the data).

First, some quick Q&A: is radio still heard by around 90% of the US population every day? Yep. Even by hip, 20-something Millennials? Yes, at a higher percentage than 40 and 50 year olds. Are there credible, verifiable reasons why such a traditional medium so stubbornly holds its ground in the 21st century adscape? Yes-- and plenty of statistics if you must have them. Back in 1979, however, the legendary Canadian power trio RUSH explained all of it to us in their song, “The Spirit of Radio”.

You can click here to listen to the song. If you’d rather not (it completely baffles me how anyone would rather not), read on to see what the progressive rock gods had to say about AM/FM:

Begin the day with a friendly voice, a companion unobtrusive…

Whether it wakes you up, keeps you company as you get ready for the day, or entertains/informs you in the car headed to work, radio is a medium that is easy to access and with which it’s easy to get along. This blog has previously discussed how we love the familiar. Familiar is radio’s forte, as local radio hosts talk about local people, places, weather, and things. It makes us feel good when they gripe about the rain, or enthuse about the local sports team.

…Plays that song that’s so elusive, and the magic music makes your morning mood.

There are endless studies about the power of music to motivate, to soothe, to encourage, to refresh. No matter what other options are out there—CDs, iPods, Pandora, Spotify—nothing delivers music and information as quickly and as effortlessly as traditional radio.

Off on your way, hit the open road-- there is magic at your fingers…

Two major strengths of radio: for one, it’s portable. You can drive and listen to it. You can cook and listen to it. You can go for a run, clean the house, work on your car, or build a ship in a bottle (if that’s your thing) and listen to it. For another, it’s easy. You don’t have to stop at a newsstand, deal with a remote, or set up a Bluetooth connection. You can literally push a button and be engaged— and people love shortcuts.

For the spirit ever lingers-- undemanding contact, in your happy solitude.

We have all experienced that “decompression” time of being alone in the car in the middle or at the end of a long day, and being simply entertained by what the radio station offers. A favorite song, a relevant news story… we’re not asked to do anything but listen.

...emotional feedback, on a timeless wavelength

Bearing a gift beyond price, almost free.

“Free” is an important point. Will some people buy a subscription for specific satellite programming in their car? Sure. But most of us are more than happy with the variety of formats on the AM/FM dial, and "free" fits in everyone's budget. 

There are certain facts about radio that require no surveys, graphs, or statistics to verify:

  • Radio is live, free, and easy to listen to.
  • You can tune in from the car, the kitchen, the shower or the gym.
  • There are no socio-economic barriers to listening.
  • The content makes you feel good, makes you laugh, makes you think.

As digital transforms the production and delivery of nearly every medium out there, traditional radio is still basically the same: people talking into microphones, playing music, and keeping you up to date. Radio is still “the voice that whispers in your ear” as you stand in line at a store and don’t even realize you’re singing along with the station being played in the background.

Whether you’re a fan of Canadian hard rock or not… the spirit of radio is still very much alive in the music and advertising world.

Crank it up!

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Tags: Marketing, branding, brand building, effective advertising, radio doesn't work, media mix, radio's relevance

Your Best Radio Ad is Not About You

Posted by Matt Barnard on Wed, Feb 20, 2019 @ 01:53 PM

It was one of my great marketing failures—involving a radio commercial, moose, and several old Wurlitzer electric organs. I know. What could go wrong?

The year was 1993. I was a young radio sales lad, working for WLKZ “Oldies 105”, a small station in New Hampshire’s beautiful Lakes Region. My client was a weird little business in rural Ossipee, called the Moose Run Trading Post. Located on Route 16 near, um, nothing in particular, Moose Run was part convenience store, part ammo and bait store, part cheap clothing retailer, part tacky souvenir store. They also sold random, often-strange merchandise that would come and go each week.

The day came that the store purchased a discount lot of 12 somewhat-tired Wurlitzer electric organs. You know, the ones with a double-decker keyboard that your grandmother might have in the corner of her living room. The price tag on these musical sports cars? Around $500 each. With this hot new inventory on hand, Moose Run decided to try out radio advertising by promoting a Used Wurlitzer Organ Sales Event, Two Days Only!

I was young. I was foolish. I enjoyed commissions. I said, “Let’s do this.” They agreed to run 15 sixty-second commercials for one week to promote the Weekend Organ Sale (for no extra charge, I also crossed my fingers). 

Shockingly, they did not sell one single organ that weekend. They then cancelled the rest of their ads that had been scheduled, saying, “obviously, radio doesn’t work.”

Except it does.  Procter and Gamble, McDonalds, The Home Depot, and Staples, for example, spend billions on the medium each year. Successful local businesses right here in Portland and the surrounding communities are on the air month in, month out. 

So why did I suffer such defeat at the Battle of Moose Run?

The primary flaw in the campaign was this: we (the client and I) forgot that effective advertising is about the consumer, not about the retailer. We didn’t ask the right questions: Who and where is the customer? What is that customer's immediate or long-range need? How often is the customer in the market for the product? How can the business conveniently and uniquely fulfill that need?

The truth is, radio DID work-- it played audio which was transmitted to thousands of cars, businesses, and homes in the Lakes Region, where it was heard by thousands of people. The problem was that the message those listeners heard never addressed any of their particular needs. Nobody who heard the commercials wanted or needed an organ that week, so they ignored the information.

We as marketers are often frantic to plug as much data as we can into 60 seconds, thinking that the customer wants to hear all about us. Not so-- they want to hear about how we're going to solve a particular problem in their life. How are they going to get out of their current rustbucket of a car when they still owe payments on it? What are they going to do about dinner tonight? Where will they get their dry cleaning done?

Here are five critical questions for anyone selling or marketing anything:

• Who is your customer?
• What do they need?
• What's the buying cycle? (short cycle, short campaign; longer cycle, more time needed)

• How will you fill the need you've determined?
• Where can they find you?

If you can answer all five of these questions with reasonable accuracy (especially "what do they need"), your advertising is going to succeed. 

If you can't, then you’re on your way to selling organs in Ossipee.

And let me tell you… they’re not buying.

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Tags: Marketing, branding, brand building, brand leaders, client needs, effective advertising, radio doesn't work