Does Marketing Work?


(By Wayne Ens) An article in the latest Radio Ink posed the question, “Can David Fields pro-radio marketing campaign drive more local radio revenue?” The question was posed on the heels of the recent BIA Kelsey forecast predicting a decline in local radio revenues in 2018.

In an earlier BIA Kelsey Local Media Watch release, they suggested, “It’s good to think of each market as unique, rather than as reflections of the national advertising market.” The release highlighted two sample markets with dramatically different shares of local revenue going to radio.

Medium                Market A share                    Market B share       Share difference

Online                    12.76%                                   19.60%                      6.84%

Radio                     11.43%                                   7.50%                        3.93%

Print                       9.96%                                     12.46%                      2.44%                 

Direct mail            0.47%                                     7.10%                        6.63%

The article suggested that different media combinations work differently in every market. And while that may be true, I believe it missed one important variable when trying to rationalise the differences in advertisers’ media use from one market to another: marketing!

I suspect the difference has as much to do with the marketing and the effectiveness of media sales forces in each market, as it does with the effectiveness of the various media in those markets.

You can see that radio captured 52.4% more share of ad dollars in Market A versus Market B. That’s huge! You’ll also note that the more successful radio market appears to do so at the expense of online, print, and direct mail, in that market.

But I encounter radio salespeople who don’t even understand the difference between direct mail and mass mail, and markets where stations fight each other, instead of the vulnerable print media.

I believe the marketing and radio sales forces in Market A are much more effective at selling radio’s strategic role in the new media landscape versus Market B, where radio sales execs probably fight for station share of shrinking radio budgets, thinking the other radio stations are their competitors.

But David Field cannot single-handedly reverse the decline predicted by BIA Kelsey. We all need to begin marketing more effectively, and recruiting and training better radio account executives.

A few years ago, Radio Ink’s publisher Eric Rhoads wrote stations should, “Phone the market manager of every radio station in your town and invite them to a meeting ASAP. All radio stations in town will be given an opportunity to participate in a local advertiser event, which you will create together. All stations must agree to participate equally, even though some may have more stations and some will want more credit.”

He then said, “You should not do this alone.”

Lift the tide for all of radio. Every station will benefit, and you’ll have 10 times more advertisers present than if you held a single-station event. This is about growing radio.

Sadly, with a few notable exceptions, many stations continued to fight each other instead of marketing radio in the midst of the growing digital frenzy. As Doctor Phil would say, “How’s that working for you?”

Marketing works! And there is strength in numbers.

Wayne Ens in an international marketing consultant, business-to-business sales trainer and author, specializing in helping media companies create stronger partnerships with locally-owned businesses. He can be reached at [email protected]


  1. And yet, many radio companies over the recent times have seriously cut, if not shredded their marketing budgets. We preach to our clients, “In tough times, you need to advertise more, not less.” And yet, many, though not all of us fail to follow our own playbook.


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