BLOG OF THE DAY – What’s In Your Tool Box?


(By Barry Cohen) Open your briefcase, or your laptop, or your tablet. If your selling tools consist of antenna height, wattage, music playlist, personality line-up, bumper stickers, and a rating book, you may need a new tool kit. Dig down to the bottom. Did you find anything else?

We’ll help you find it. What are you really selling? Air time? No. Your “commercial inventory?” No. Your audience? Now you’re getting warmer. Try again. The awesome power of the radio medium consists of several unique and powerful component parts:

1. A loyal, engaged listenership with an affinity for, and a consistent habit
of taking time out of their day to pay attention to, your station.

2. A population that can rival that of a town or even a major city.

3. A community of followers and believers that place their faith and
trust in your station and what it stands for.

4. The collective buying power of your audience’s combined paychecks
and bank accounts.

When you fire up that engine, it functions in a way no other vehicle can. So, how do you harness that awesome power and put it to work for a client?First, recognize that your job is to drive that engaged audience to your client’s showroom, call center, or website. It’s about selling his or her inventory, not yours. Next, understand the tools you have to fine-tune the engine in that vehicle…with zero emissions, by the way. So, carry these tools with you at all times. They don’t take up much room.

Creativity: Anything you can imagine, you can create on radio…without a big budget. The psychological impact of the mental images you can evoke in your audience is cataclysmic. Remember when Stan Freiberg filled the lake with chocolate? We landed a helicopter on a front lawn with the “Homeland Safety” team cleaning out toxic chemicals from a garage and replacing them with safe, natural EcoSmart Pest Control…and had the sheriff pull over a driver for drinking bad coffee. Turn up your speakers and give a listen:

Flexibility: Your client moves, adds a new product line—any change they need in their message, you can tell the world about it within the hour. Let’s take it to the extreme. You can even set up a campaign that will run only if it rains or snows or a heat wave hits…and the client only pays for messages that run when he or she needs them. Score that heating and air-conditioning contractor, appliance dealer, snowblower store, roofing contractor—you get the idea. We did it with a ski shop during a 50-degree winter. They hadn’t sold any product—until it finally snowed We had their trust, and their dollars, before anybody else could even call them. Now, that’s live and local for you!

Targetability: Not only can you literally dial up the demographic audience that most nearly matches your client’s customer profile, but you can get that message into their customers’ heads closest to the time of purchase, when they are en route to the supermarket or to the auto repair shop, and not only influence, but actually drive a purchase.

Wow Factor: Sometimes we almost take it for granted. To the public, it’s show biz. They literally light up when they tour your studios. When they can see the voice behind the mike up close and personal at an appearance or a remote broadcast, it strengthens that bond, and your client becomes the “host.” Again, let’s take it to the extreme. We backed up rush-hour traffic on one of the busiest highways in America when we had a DJ and a traffic reporter jumping up and down on a waterbed during a remote in the parking lot, as they challenged listeners to try and break the bed to win a $500 gift certificate. Talk about high visibility and “rubber-necking delays”! We had a full house and we sold some beds, too!

In spite of all the changes in the media landscape in recent years, there are still some magic tricks you can only do with radio. These are just a few of them. The secret comes from understanding what your client needs to sell and devising a unique way of aligning those needs with your audience’s desires and aspirations. Remember, it’s just a delivery system. It’s the solution you deliver with it that makes it happen. When you open that tool box and start pulling out this tool set, you’re bound to score with clients. And their success becomes your success.

Barry Cohen is the Managing Member of AdLab Media Communications, LLC (, and has worked with radio for over 39 years. He is a former station manager, major market, and suburban seller, and has presented RAB workshops and webinars. For more ideas you can use, see his book 10 Ways to Screw Up an Ad Campaign.


  1. Congrats to Barry for laying it out.
    So, and call me crazy, who is going to be creating these Stan Freeberg-ish spots?
    Will it be the reps? Will it be the clients? Or will it be the copywriter – when she’s not out fetching the boss’s laundry?


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