Realistic Radio Remote Expectations

By Jeff Ogden

  • Charge- $600.00
  • 3 Hours long.
  • Saturday Morning: 11 AM- 2PM.
  • 50 Promos to run 5 days before the broadcast.
  • Set up, 10AM – Station vehicle, banner, remote music system.
  • Prize - Register to win a pair of tickets to 6 Flags Park
  • Client - Car Dealer

Looks like the average remote structure give or take your market changes. PD’s and GSMs are split in regards to what makes a remote work or not work for the client. I picked a car dealership because they probably need the most help of any client in our business. The only way to win is for the industry to be real with what a remote is supposed to do and for the Client to realize what their responsibilities really are. Forget about the inside stuff like the charge, the promos and whatever schedule would have been attached. Focus from the listener’s point of view. All they know is they heard that the station was live at the dealership Saturday and these tickets would be given away, plus there was a car deal on used cars for the weekend. Audience also heard the dealership spots on the air regarding the weekend sale. So the dealership does 130 cars against a usual weekend of 60, and the station is a marketing hero? Really! Is the client’s success because of the remote? So the dealership does 40 cars, 20 less than a usual weekend of 60, and the station is a marketing failure? Really! Is the station’s remote the cause of the failure?

90% of the time a remote fails because it’s more about the station and less about the client. A pair of tickets to Six Flags may not be enough to get me to drive across town to look at a car. Psychologists are saying buyers come from either “the need or the dream,” in the land of acquisition. Six Flags is not my need or dream as I look for a car today. If you’re going to hook me, hook me to what I need or want in the client side, NOT the station side of a deal.

“Get a free hot dog or Coke.” Dealerships complained that all this did was get a lot of “unqualified buyers” to the lot and no deals. Why did all the people come to the remote? Easy. Because Radio is the greatest delivery system in advertising. But remember the client had 400 people show up to register to win something the station owns and NOBODY BOUGHT a vehicle! Who won? The station! Who lost? The client! Who really lost? The station and the industry in general, as clients look at the expense side of radio and the R.O.I. it did not produce.

Stations stand on the belief that our job is to just get listeners there, and the client’s job is to sell them when they get there. Not so when we know the client does not have a good deal to begin with! This is a clear case of “Not From the Buyers Point of View” as most remotes are. Live remote air personalities do their thing about the client, the deal, and lots of remote time about the giveaway and the station personality and sound system. We try to create an atmosphere of festival and that’s fine. But the festivities should all be around the client’s deal.

That’s the real problem. Clients think radio = instant transactions. Just the opposite; it’s the client’s deal that = instant transactions. Radio is simply the delivery system to the message and the journey of the client. Clients could have cut the schedule in half if the message was simply a free car every hour all weekend long. Our prize would have been a major afterthought for sure. Clients cannot afford that kind of giveaway, but they cannot get away from their responsibility in the marketing. Stations can’t afford to give away front row tickets to the World Series or MTV Awards with every remote on a regular basis either, and that wouldn’t work for the client anyway. Our responsibility in the Y2K years is to show clients their real competition is the deal they are offering and the added value they are offering or lack thereof. To look at the other car deals this month and BEAT THE OTHER DEALERS with a better deal! Then the promos would have done their job before the remote planted real buyer seeds. The remote would have hit available audience in those three hours with talking points about the deal. The client would have done their part in creating a “Real Deal” for shoppers in that arena. Buyers come as the massive delivery system (the station) turns listeners into store traffic, and the Six Flags tickets could be given away on the air next week to create better AQH for the station.

The client made back the station expense and went to cash flow, up X amount of units, and will be back next month. If it didn’t work, the client needs to look at their image and marketing over the years and make the changes necessary so the next time when they use the massive delivery system, it all works together. In short, they are to blame for advertising a deal the market doesn’t want or need, and we are to blame for taking the money and deserve the accusation of, “Radio doesn’t work.” It’s time radio stopped taking the hit that we cannot deliver audience as we stay self inflicted, caught in a system we provide to the client that’s flawed from the start and bad for everyone. Salespeople should put a sign up at their desk that says, “It’s never about us.”

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