“You Have No Dog In This Fight”


(By Barry Cohen) If I had a big enough stop sign, I would project it across the U.S. so every radio station sales manager could see it. Why, you ask? Because I would tell each and every one of them to stop competing with other radio stations in town.

When radio is good — that is, when people are buying radio — it’s good for everyone. Let’s not forget that “share” is a verb, as well as a noun! Now I’m going to climb all the way out on the limb, so pay careful attention before it breaks: don’t be afraid to sell for the other guys and gals.

What? Did he just say that? Yes, I did. Craft your proposal to include your own and the other stations in town. You want the advertiser to succeed, right? Well, then why wouldn’t you want him or her to get the best result? And most of the time, achieving the best result means buying all of the stations that deliver the target audience well. By doing so, you’re steering the budget away from other media at the same time. Ah, I see another stop sign ahead.

Stop selling and measuring reach, and start selling and measuring results. That’s all the advertiser really cares about. In the end, rating points and market share really don’t matter to the clients. Nor do commercial-free hours, your billboards all over town, or your monster flamethrower signal. All they care about are bodies in the door, phone traffic, clicks on their offers, and orders they can take to the bank — so they can pay your bill, of course.

If you’re not delivering these, you’re not delivering anything of value to them. And they’re the ones paying you, aren’t they? All right, I’ll tone it down. The next sign ahead says “Yield … Followed by Stop.”

Tell your prospects to stop shooting the messenger (you and your station, that is). Why? Because the medium (the messenger) is only as strong as the message. Weak offers in strong media do not get results. You need to stop wimping out just to get the order. That simply results in a “churn and burn” of advertisers coming and going — and never builds you the steady clientele you need to build your business — and to serve your business community.

Challenge your prospects and clients to offer your audience real value, real savings, real exciting products and services. If they won’t, stop taking the order, pack up your briefcase (or your tablet), and show ’em how it’s done. If they can’t devise a strong enough offer to motivate your audience to at least shop them, then you come up with one, or two, or more.

Consumers are jaded, accustomed to BOGOs and 50 percent off. Yawn (or sneeze) when an advertiser wants to offer your audience 10 percent off — unless he or she sells Learjets, Rolls Royces, or million-dollar homes. OK, the next sign says “Curves Ahead.” Go for it.

Leverage your unique assets. Both those of the medium and those of your station(s). Yes, every station has them, regardless of market size or audience size. Understand the client’s ideal prospect. Show him or her how to exploit the advantages of radio — the power of personality endorsements, the immediacy and recency of a message close to their customers’ actual purchasing time, the interactivity between your audience and your station, the ability to reach a captive audience and follow them from home to work to shopping. Demonstrate how passionate and loyal your audience is to your station.

At a station party, a listener once approached the owner of Rock station WDHA-FM in New Jersey and said, “You think this is your station — well, it’s our station!” He could not have paid him a higher compliment. Listeners traveled 30 miles to a country music festival at a farm in Virginia because WKCW-AM (“Big K” Radio) was the only place they could hear traditional country in a sea of “Hot Country” stations. There are still more, ya know! So, what else? Thank you for asking.

Think like a brand manager. Don’t be a one-trick pony. Think big-picture, ongoing campaigns. We once ran an auto dealer campaign entitled “The History of Wheels.” In each episode, we had a character from a different era with the dealer’s name — from the caveman to the Medieval character, to the Renaissance, etc. People told the owner they got hooked on the series and wanted to know what would come next. If it works for the big guys, it can work for the little guys, too. (P.S. This dealer had a single-location, in-town, small Buick store.)

Barry Cohen is the Managing Member of AdLab Media Communications, LLC (www.adlabcreative.com), has presented RAB workshops and webinars, and is the author of the book 10 Ways to Screw Up an Ad Campaign and co-author of Startup Smarts.


  1. I invite Barry to join my little group, The Hopa-Hopa Clan.
    There are no rules and there are no dues – just a willingness to keep on hopin’.


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