What Business is Radio In? (Part 2)

A No-Nonsense Marketing Smart Tip January 5, 2005

My last essay focused on the business we’re really in from the perspective of the audience (see it here if you missed it). This time, I’m going to focus on what business we’re in from an advertiser’s perspective, and the implications are more familiar but no less profound.

Delivering Customers

From the advertiser’s perspective, we’re not in the audio entertainment or information business, we’re not in the awareness-building business, and it’s an over-simplification to say we’re in the advertising business.

We’re really in the business of delivering customers to their doorstep, making their phones ring off the hook, driving the curious to their stores and dealerships, and persuading more folks to buy one brand of beer over another.

The Move to “Accountability” and ROI

The pressure for Radio to be more accountable to advertisers and to prove the return on their investment in our stations is not news to you. This is what’s driving the “People Meter Fever.”

Accountability is not something to be feared but rather to be embraced. Radio works, we know it. All we have to do is prove it. But this shouldn’t depend solely on People Meters. In fact, the opportunity to provide PROOF of our performance is there for the taking. And most of us ignore it.

How to Prove ROI and Accountability Now

The goal should be to prove accountability at the level of every individual account. For example, consider these ideas:

– Use a custom 800-number for inquiries to your client – the more calls she gets, the greater the return on her investment. And it’s clearly coming from YOUR station – Incentivize your database listeners to tell merchants they heard about them from your station – Assess the success or failure of each client effort and brainstorm ways with your client to measure effectiveness – Measure EVERYTHING – traffic at promotions, sales following a campaign, etc. It is in the client’s interest to help you help them. – Publish merchant discount coupons on your website -each use by the consumer can be traced back to your station – Survey your client’s satisfaction with the results of his campaign – make him responsible for measuring increased traffic. That is, HELP him prove your assistance is working. – Measure, record, and report to this client and like clients your success stories in quantitative detail (not simply, “it worked for Joe’s Pizza, it can work for you, too”). I believe some advertisers rely on ratings because we fail to give them any better evidence of our effectiveness. Ratings are a lousy measure of our marketing potency

Naturally, ROI is a function not only of advertising and promotional tonnage but of the NATURE or QUALITY of that advertising and promotion, not to mention the nature and quality of the product or service being sold. The drive to greater accountability must also be accompanied by Radio spots which work better – we need to raise the bar substantially on the quality of our creative work (ironically, some of the worst – i.e., least effective – Radio advertising is produced by agencies) and should always keep in mind this goal: To bring more feet to the client’s doorstep so they may sell more stuff.

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