Radio Results Blog

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

What Can Great Leaders Teach Us About Effective Advertising?

Posted by Matt Barnard on Tue, Feb 12, 2019 @ 05:05 PM


Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Confucius would have made GREAT advertising directors.

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Tags: Marketing, branding, brand building, communication, leadership, brand leaders

Sizzle and Tingle: When Your Advertising Creates Habits

Posted by Matt Barnard on Tue, Jan 15, 2019 @ 01:30 PM

Ah, the simple and romantic days of early 20th-century America. The men were splendid in suits and hats, the women were elegant in dresses and gloves, and nobody worried about finding a reliable wi-fi connection. They also, however, never worried about brushing their teeth. Eww.

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Tags: Marketing, branding, brand building, habit, behavior, effective recall, automatic, brain, mental manipulation, brand dominance, vintage ads, golden age of advertising, madmen

Green is the New Black: Marketing Sustainability

Posted by Matt Barnard on Thu, Jan 03, 2019 @ 05:43 PM

You have 30 seconds to explain how you’re going to save the planet. And… go!

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Tags: Marketing, branding, sustainability, earth friendly, cause marketing, community marketing, healthy for me healthy for we, Millennial Advertising, brand building

Familiarity Breeds Consumers: Branding at the Door

Posted by Matt Barnard on Fri, Dec 21, 2018 @ 03:42 PM

My dog, Martha, understands the fundamental advertising principles of brand consistency and product familiarity. Who’s a good dog??!?

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Tags: Marketing, branding, consistency, fonts, voice, familiarity, effective radio, television, Print, web, wag more bark less

Pictures in Your Head: When Advertising "Speaks" to You

Posted by Matt Barnard on Wed, Dec 12, 2018 @ 03:06 PM

Words are powerful. I learned that in a dungeon.

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Tags: effective radio, Marketing, messaging, copywriting, hollywood, production, VR, Gaming, visualization, engagement

Simple Message: The Way Marketing Should Be

Posted by Matt Barnard on Mon, Nov 26, 2018 @ 05:46 PM

I sent an e-mail to one of my managers recently, on behalf of a client. The note was a masterpiece of detail. Long explanations. Full client background. Promises of future benefits. Proposed approaches to fulfilling the request. Wordy "thanks" for his consideration of the matter. It was seven paragraphs long. I was proud.

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Tags: effective radio, Marketing, messaging, Nike, McDonalds, copywriting

Business Owner: "When I'm Not On The Radio, My Phones Don't Ring"

Posted by Larry Julius on Sun, Mar 17, 2013 @ 08:53 AM

Michael and Mary Jean Major own Cunningham Security Systems, a small business that provides custom designed, high quality, monitored security systems to residential and business customers in the Portland, Maine area.  The Majors purchased the already successful company in 2005 from the founders, Nancy and Paul Cunningham. During their first two years of ownership, the Majors doubled their number of customers.  Quite a remarkable accomplishment considering the competition.

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Tags: radio commercials, Effective Radio Advertising, Marketing, Small Business Marketing

Enhancing Your Media Mix With Radio

Posted by Larry Julius on Sun, Sep 23, 2012 @ 05:53 PM

Most businesses are already engaged in some sort of advertising.  This might include investment in newspaper, yellow pages, broadcast-television, or local- cable.  Without exception, combining radio with any other medium contributes profound strength to a campaign.  Radio, however, produces a differnet set of synergies with each medium it interacts with.  The Radio Advertising Bureau's competitive media primer does a specatcualr job of describing the effects of combining radio with other media.  Below is a summary of those benefits.

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Tags: research, Effective Radio Advertising, Marketing

Radio Advertising On A Budget: Quality vs. Quantity

Posted by Larry Julius on Sun, Aug 19, 2012 @ 07:09 PM

The cost of advertising on a radio station is generally proportional to the number of listeners it has.  The most listened to station in a market, therefore, is usually the most expensive on which to advertise. When advertising on a budget, however, the station with the greatest quantity of listeners may not be the best value for your marketing dollars because you will pay for every person who hears your commercial...even those listeners who may never buy your product or service.  In many cases, smaller, less-expensive radio stations may be more likely to reach the customers you are seeking than the larger, more expensive stations.

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Tags: Effective Radio Advertising, Marketing