Radio Hed: Lessons from Neiman Marcus

Radio-Hed-Logo-2By Jeffrey Hedquist

It’s a bright shiny new year, and while the sounds of holiday music may have faded, hanging around homes throughout this great land and of course on the web are copies of that reminder of classic outrageous advertising – the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book catalog with its over-the-top “fantasy” gifts.

Many of you may remember these selections from the 2008 Christmas Book – his and hers life-size LEGO sculptures ($60,000 each), a Dallas Cowboys Texas Stadium end zone in your backyard ($500,000), the titanium motorcycle ($110,000). You could also get a custom backyard golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus ($1 million). Call me if you’d like to come see ours.

The 2009 book was a little toned down, but still included a “his and hers” two-seater Icon aircraft, including pilot training for two ($250,000), the “world’s fastest” electric motorcycle ($73,000), artwork of insect lab specimens with antique watch parts ($85,000), and five-foot-long, “sustainable” chandeliers made from cut and sanded plastic soda bottles rescued from the landfill ($12,000).

Does anyone actually purchase these gifts? Very few, if any. Do they generate traffic, attention and free publicity? I think you know the answer. And that brings us to this very important question: What can your client offer that’s beautiful, outrageous or newsworthy? It could be an outrageously: large food item, luxurious trip, expensive wardrobe, extreme adventure, or comprehensive training program.

With the cachet of “inconspicuous consumption” at an all time high, what might work even better is an item, service or event where the profits go to a charity or prominent worthy community cause. Remember, your client doesn’t necessarily have to have the item or service in stock, they just need to figure out the details and price for what it will take to deliver it, should a customer take them up on the offer. Then, they need to publicize what they’re offering, tell the imaginative story, and make it come alive in the hearts of listeners. That’s a job that radio is made for.

With this outrageous tool, you can build traffic and attention for your client. Make sure they can take advantage of the traffic by having affordable items and services to sell their visitors.

Few people may be purchasers of that beautifully restored 1958 Corvette convertible, but the crowds who come to see it can be sold new and used Chevy’s plus all kinds of auto services. A restaurant may not get many takers for the $800 bottle of cognac, but may generate participation in the drawing for it, when patrons know that the proceeds go to a local charity. Only a select number of listeners will opt for a complete home gym and personal trainer who visits them 3 times a week, but many will be interested in a yearly membership to use the fitness center’s facilities, or a weekly Pilates class.

There is really no limit to the possibilities for almost every advertiser. I suggest brainstorming with representatives from sales, programming and production to come up with suggestions for each client, the more outrageous the better. It’s old-fashioned showmanship, at which radio excels.

© 1997-2009 Hedquist Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.

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