Out-Advertise The Opposition… Even When You Can’t Outspend ‘Em
(By Barry Cohen) Your prospect is afraid to go on the air because his or her competition has deeper pockets and can outspend them. You, as the consummate expert, will show them how to out-advertise their filthy rich competitors. Listen up.
Lesson 1: Use media your competition is not using. Rather than go head-to-head with their major competitor, guide your client to an untapped audience where they can become the dominant voice — and that just might mean one or more of your stations. In the 1990s, New Jersey-based trucking and warehouse firm Cargo Logistics proved it. They ran on Soft AC WPAT-FM, which had heavy in-office listenership. They were the only one in their industry to tap into that 1 million weekly audience.
Keep in mind the card you carry with specialty formats that often have very low duplication in the market, such as religious or Classical. You can legitimately make the claim, “If you’re not buying my station, you’re not reaching this audience.” And while you’re at it, use dayparts the competition isn’t using. Many stations deliver great efficiency on weekends. Let the other folks pay the freight for prime time.
Lesson 2: Create more memorable, attentiongetting ads. No matter how much the other guy or gal is spending, if you (and your client) create a better ad campaign, your message will get through to the consumer — and acted upon. When the Richards Group in Dallas created its campaign for Motel 6, the Tom Bodette character took hold — no screaming, no craziness, but we all remembered it. Great radio creative stays in the mind for years after it has left the airwaves. Case in point (for those old enough to remember): Stiller and Meara’s Blue Nun wine commercials.
So how can you accomplish the same effect with your clients’ campaigns?
First, do your research. Find out what your clients’ customers really need and want before creating the campaign. Determine what product or service resonates with them, how much they are willing to pay for it, and what offers ring their bell. Then, craft the message in appropriate language with the right spokesperson for the client’s brand personality and product category. You can’t sell high heels the same way you sell auto parts. Consider the consumer’s life stage, as well as his or her lifestyle. Finally, never forget this: Every purchase is emotionally driven, and emotion doesn’t cost a nickel more!
Lesson 3: Create a better value perception. Value doesn’t necessarily mean discounting. Devise a valuedriven, augmented product. Ask the client what you can add to the customer experience that may not cost the client that much, but will enhance the value the customer receives — and separate the client from his or her competitors, especially if they sell a lookalike, sound-alike product or service.
The carpet store that adds lifetime annual cleanings can clean up in the marketplace. Similarly, the auto dealer offering a free maintenance package will differentiate itself — even though it’s selling the same cars as competing dealers. With the right added value, consumers might even pay more. Consider items like delivery, service contracts, etc.
Lesson 4: Develop a superior product position. Focus on one attribute that places your client’s product or service over and above the competition. Timex watches touted their durability, showing the product undergoing various “torture tests.” Everyone already knew they were competitively priced. This gave the consumer an additional strong motivation to purchase. Can you do the same for your client’s Main Street business? You betcha!
Years ago, Bergenfield, NJ Ford dealer Ed Mullane recorded his own gravely voiced commercials. Rather than the usual “We’re the biggest; we buy in volume, so we pass the savings on to you,” Mullane intoned, “Come to our bare-bones cinderblock showroom where you don’t pay for any frills.” P.S. It worked! We positioned a swimming pool dealer against the travel agent, offering, “The vacation that lasts a lifetime. While your brotherin- law has pictures of his vacation from last summer, you’re splashing around in your pool.” Life’s a beach.
Lesson 5: Ask for the order. Too much of contemporary advertising leaves the consumer wondering what he or she is supposed to do — call, click, come in, do a cartwheel, dance? Most of all, tell them why they are responding and what benefit they will receive by doing so.
Eric Rhoads is Chairman of Radio Ink magazine and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org