Radio, Market Thyself! (well)

This from the Cincinnatti Radio Consortium…(possibly in cooperation with WKRP)

[audio:|titles=Cinci Radio Consortium]

OK, first the audiophile in me has to pick nits with the production values. The water sound effect sounds much more like a creek than a leak or an overflowing toilet.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move onto the tangled logic of the copy.


A woman has a bad leak in her home and needs a plumber. She reaches first for the yellow pages, but finds that there are too many choices (20 pages according to the spot). She then remembers a certain plumbing company and even knows the owner’s name. She then reveals that she heard of this plumber on…..[awkward .75 second pause that could really use a drumroll] radio.

Then Mr. Professional Voice Guy tells listeners that the five stations in the metro area reach over a half million listeners each week, and four more reach over 400,000. Then he mentions how radio is the most affordable tool and closes by saying that this entire 30 seconds of your life that you can’t get back was brought to you by the Cincinnati Radio Consortium, “and this station.”

Sending a Message “From  This Station”

Here’s a gratuitous injection of personal opinion–when I hear the words “brought to you by” or “a message from ____________ and this station,” what I really here is “the preceding was of low importance and was stuck in the ad rotation to fill time or fulfill our mandated commitment to public service.”

But just what kind of a message is this?

A group of radio stations is trying (I think) to get businesses to advertise on radio. After all, that’s how the bills get paid on every station north of 92.1 on the dial. So they paint a picture of a frazzled consumer with a problem–a problem a plumber who has advertised on radio for years can fix. However, radio apparently fails the top-of-mind awareness test because Mrs. Consumer looks to the Yellow Pages (it’s that book-looking thing you use as a door stop) first to find a plumber. Being overwhelmed by the horde of lemmings that still advertise in Yellow Pages, she defaults to a plumber she heard about on radio.

Next, our smooth-talking persuasive announcer tells us about the fantastic reach of some of Cincinnati’s  biggest radio stations. He never mentions any station specifically, or that most stations, even in a large market, don’t have 500,000 cumulative listeners. He also doesn’t mention the rates that those big stations can command. Rates that are generally far out of each for anything but a large chain plumbing operation. However, potential clients are assured that radio is the “most affordable” marketing tool, which should set them at ease, because the type of clients every station wants are those that are concerned only about keeping their advertising costs to a minimum at the expense of effectiveness.

A New Message

I think a successful rewrite of this ad hinges on four main things.

First, emphasize return on investment. It’s not about how little you can spend, it’s about how much you can get back. People only have an issue spending money if they think they won’t get something of greater value in return.

Second, show radio as being core of top-of-mind awareness. Have the woman do a web search for a company she heard about on the radio. Show how the name of that plumbing company has subconsciously become a part of her life over years of consistently hearing their name on the radio.

Third, tell a real story, preferably with real people. Some of the most effective radio self-advertisements are business owner testimonials–talking about how the station is a great fit for their target customer, how their sales have increased, and how people found them because of radio.

Lastly, either use real station names in the ad, or at very least personalize it to the station it’s airing on. If you just tell a potential advertiser that “radio” is a good advertising tool, do you think they are going to call the 20-30 or more radio station in a big town? That’s about as overwhelming as the woman looking through 20 pages of plumbers.

If Not You, Then Who

This radio station is asking businesses to entrust them with their very precious resources in hopes that advertising will pay them a dividend. These potential clients have to trust that the radio station knows how to market their type of business, especially if that business does not use an ad agency or in-house creative department. If this ad represents the product of a bunch of professional radio marketers, would you, as a business owner, give them one red cent? If a group of radio stations in a major metro can’t put together a convincing ad that markets their services, then who will trust them to market anything else?

Please share your thoughts on this ad below!