The On Air Campaign for Audience and Store Traffic

By  Jeff Ogden

Can we ever forget how important the production department is to the entire array of weapons radio has in the fight to create audience that turns into store traffic? Remember production is not only a sales tool but a programming tool as well. The better the production, the longer the listening, and that converts to a greater AQH. I’ve never heard of audience turning off a station because the commercials were really funny and creative or cool. I have never heard a client say, “I won’t buy your station because your production is too creative.” It’s a real battle out there to keep clients’ businesses packed with shoppers and your stations packed with listeners. Think of how many ways your radio station makes money?

Produced 10’s, 15’s, 30’s or 60’s. Live reads. Infomercial blocks. Live client calls. Fixed position spots. News, sports and weather sponsorships. Weekday, weekend or Sunday morning special programming. Show sponsorships. Fixed position “Horizontal programming,” i.e. The Medical Minute or Daily Market updates. A remote broadcast. Severe weather packages. The Ski Phone, Weather Phone or the Concert Phone updates. Your 501C3 package for non-profits to get on the air. Live game coverage of local sports. Your website. Free station weekends where for the purchase of a special package, clients get 48 free 30’s from 5p Friday to 5p Sunday, and they own the weekend with a special positioning statement played every hour, i.e., “It’s a Pepsi Weekend on Magic 95.” Maybe your information station sells half hour blocks of interview time to clients for the purchase of a special package. Road Report updates. Your News Departments cell phone vendor (The Cell 1, K-news mobile phone) or maybe you’ve named your station vehicle including the dealership (The Valley Ford News Cruiser). Promotions and Contesting. Special morning drive elements.

We can be here all day brainstorming ways to create listenership for radio that converts into store traffic for clients. Where does production fit into all of this? Aside from the usual creative 30’s or 60’s using emotion, multi-voice, SFX, impressions or creative copy, it is the production department that supports the “On Air Campaign” to maintain a healthy IMAGE of these added value revenue opportunities. Programming is a philosophy; so whether you choose an out of station signature voice or use your production team, the job at hand is to make sure the audience knows when these events are happening, where these are happening, and why they need to listen to them. These promos are vital to programming. They should be high-tech, cool, informative, and should sell a good image to the market about the event. As all of these station promos rotate, the market quickly realizes just how deep you are as a radio station. Promos produce CUME. Like a radio spot on television tries to convert viewers into listeners, promos create sample away from the show, to that show. Promos constantly sell and re-sell listeners to listen at other times throughout the day. If listeners hear the promo they may sample the venue. Promos also produce ¼-hour. Imagine that sample becoming loyal listeners. Programmers must always fight for their turf in the sales arena. Make sure the sales department never over-promotes a client on the station using promos. Most stations sell all of these events. Each sales package for sure has some amount of promos with the event. How many promos do you think the station could run before you became “promo radio,” and lose all that audience? Remember, when stations lose listeners, clients lose store traffic and we get the blame. Now you know what a station sounds like when the sales department programs a radio station. If done right, stations can sell all of these opportunities if programming regulates and rotates the promos. If done right, stations can package a perception that your station is everywhere, doing everything, with everyone all year long, and not sound over promoted.

When was the last time you drove to another market to listen to a station doing it right? Remember going into a market and being blown away with a station’s production presence in promos? It’s all about marketing a client and the station. But the station must come first. Overkill means you’re dead too. Letting a client overtake the station means that client overtakes your programming integrity, your production integrity, and worse, burns out the voices you showcase on a regular basis. The production “On Air Assault” must be fresh all the time with copy changes, written with different reasons for the audience to listen and with different production applications. Don’t forget the update. “This Saturday,” works great if the promo is airing Monday–Thursday. Friday better say “tomorrow” and Saturday better say “today at noon.” If sales disagrees and tries to defend what the client wants, ask them if it’s easier to sell a 6.4 or a 1.9? Production is programming and effects the numbers greatly. Get with your GSM or PD and look over how you are currently using promos in your sales packages and find a way to sell all these money making ideas and keep integrity in your programming. Budget for the signature voice or make sure the Production team has what it takes to insure Ratings and Revenue in that order, and remember, no client is ever powerful enough or wealthy enough to sacrifice the entire radio station for.