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BOB BENZ: Texting Your Way to New Radio Revenue

by Bob Bentz

 

Today, Americans send more text messages per month than they use minutes on their cell phones. In fact, according to Nielsen, Americans send an average of 523 text messages per month, second only to the residents of The Philippines who send over 680. While the use of text messages among teens is well known, the largest growth area for text message use over the past year has been in the 35 – 54 age group. Clearly, text messaging is no longer a teenage fad as nearly all Americans have embraced it.

"Merry Christmas." Neil Papworth is the Marconi of the text message industry. "Merry Christmas" was the first text message ever sent, and it was Papworth, of Sema Group, who sent it to Richard Jarvis of Vodafone on December 3, 1992. When Papworth first sent those words to Jarvis, he had no idea of the phenomenon SMS technology would soon become.

AMERICANS USE 523 TEXT MESSAGES PER MONTH
Today, Americans send more text messages per month than they use minutes on their cell phones. In fact, according to Nielsen, Americans send an average of 523 text messages per month, second only to the residents of The Philippines who send over 680. While the use of text messages among teens is well known, the largest growth area for text message use over the past year has been in the 35 – 54 age group. Clearly, text messaging is no longer a teenage fad as nearly all Americans have embraced it.

CREATING A DATABASE OF P-1 LISTENERS
Mobile marketing has become a powerful marketing tool used by many national brands and radio stations alike. But, what are the keys to making it work for your radio station? First and foremost, the single most important factor in the success of a radio station text message promotion is to create a database of your P-1 listeners.

Mobile marketing is opt-in marketing. That means that a consumer must give permission to opt-in to your promotional message. While creating an opt-in list may seem like a daunting task at first, it doesn't need to be. The single most effective way to create an opt-in database is via a sweepstakes product. You know the routine. "Be the 102nd caller and we'll give you two front row tickets to see Justin Bieber live, compliments of KTXT." The end result: one happy winner and 101+ losers. Most callers just hear a frustrating busy tone.

Database Created:1
With a text message sweepstakes, everybody gets through and nobody hits that annoying busy signal. There's still one lucky winner selected and you get the same excited reaction for on-air promotion. The only difference is that you call the winner, not the other way around.
Database created: hundreds, even thousands.

The mobile marketing platform captures all participants' cell phone numbers and replies with a message. These are your most valuable P-1 listeners. Listeners who have now opted-in to your radio station database. Listeners that you can market to via broadcast text message in the future on behalf of your radio station or your advertisers.

A NEW SOURCE OF NTR
But, how do you make money with mobile marketing? It's easy really; quite easy. Your promotional text message should allot 40 of the 160 character text message to your advertisers. Your sales team sells the sponsorship of your radio station text messages for a certain period of time. That time is usually 15 days or a month. During this time, the advertiser's message will appear in all of the station text messages.

Nationally, the current value of mobile advertising is about $8.50 CPM. You can purchase text messages for a third of that. That's the profit opportunity for your radio station. If you are not able to sell the advertiser sponsorship to one of your local advertisers, your mobile marketing provider will probably be able to provide you with national advertisers to offset most or all of its costs.

You can use your mobile sponsorship to get additional revenue from a top advertiser. Or, you can use it to get involved in a buy where the demos are tough for your station. We've seen examples of an AC station that was able to get involved in a soft drink buy for the first time ever thanks to a text message sponsorship. The soft drink buy involved a 12-24 demo where the AC station had small numbers. By incorporating sponsorship of the text message product for a month into the package, the AC station was able to get involved in the soft drink buy for the first time in several years.

MORE EARS = MORE MONEY
But, the value of adding a mobile marketing element to your radio station doesn't end there. Mobile also generates ratings. In addition to an advertiser sponsorship, we recommend that there be a forced listenership element included in all of your text message promotions. In a sweepstakes, for example, your response text could say: "tune in to the morning team on Friday to see if you won." Your advertiser sponsor can promote a new store opening, the addition of a new product line, or a sale. Have the advertiser add a mobile coupon and you'll really see how powerful mobile marketing can be for radio stations.

According to Borrell Associates, mobile coupons are expected to quadruple over the next four years and become the single biggest segment of the text message marketing industry. That's where radio comes in, because radio remains a powerful force in the local advertising market. Your listeners are on the move. Shouldn't your new media promotions also be?

Bob Bentz is president of Spark Network Services which has been supplying the radio industry with NTR services since 1993. Its do-it-yourself text message marketing product for radio stations can be found at www.84444.com.


 




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