Our thanks to Beth Mann, President and CEO of WKDZ and WHVO in Cadiz, Kentucky for introducing us to Senior AE Cindy Allen Lax (left). Lax is celebrates 25 years with Mann’s company and we spoke to her and the owner of Hancock’s Neighborhood Market, Mallory Lawrence, who has built her business using local radio.
It’s their primary source of marketing. Mann tells Radio Ink, Lawrence is an amazing owner/operator of an independent grocery store and she was happy to have us tell the story about “two women I admire very much.”
Radio Ink: Mallory, Can you give the background on your business?
Mallory: It’s called Hancock’s Neighborhood Market in Cadiz Kentucky and we have been here for 26 years. I started in December of 1991. My parents owned the business. I started as a manager there and worked in that position until 2009, when my sister and I bought the business from them. I have been an owner since 2009.
It is a full-line grocery store. We have fresh produce and meat — a full grocery department. We have a deli where we make homemade salads, pies, and cakes. We also cater, and that has really grown over the years. We will cook food for people to come and pick up. We will actually go out and serve the food if people want us to do that.
Radio Ink: Seems like a tough business to be in with the big chains like Walmart and Amazon selling groceries.
Mallory: We had another location in the town I grew up in Princeton, Kentucky, and about three or four years ago we closed that location because of exactly what you just mentioned. They built a Walmart there. Kroger has a chain called Rulers which is like a Sav-a-lot and they offer a limited variety and sell things cheap. We could not compete with that there. I do want to say there is not a strong radio station there like KDZ. I attribute our success to this radio station and Cindy.
Radio Ink: How and when did you guys first get together and decide that you were going to do something?
Cindy: I actually first worked with her dad. I have had a great relationship with that family. When Mallory came on board, we hit it off right away. We bounce ideas off each other. She loves promotions and I work hard to come up with things that set her apart. We feel like our businesses are so much alike, with WKDZ being locally owned and operated. We feel like they are the same. Anything I can do to make ourselves better and be number one. We are parallel. There are so many similarities so it works for us to work together.
Mallory: Cindy goes above and beyond. I deal with a lot of salesmen and I can tell you that she is by far at the top, and I mean by leaps and bounds. She continually looks for new ideas for us. For example, we did frozen food month, where we partner with local business to give away a freezer and I load the freezer with frozen food. We have done luaus and remotes. We have done disco parties. Every year we do turkey bowling. We have customers bowl with turkeys in our parking lot and then they win gift certificates to the grocery store. She does a great job coming up with different ideas. That is what sets you apart is when you can do things that are different from what everybody else is doing. We told our father when we had to close that store in Princeton that you can go to every corner and buy groceries now. I can go to the gas station, Walgreens, and CVS because everybody is trying to get a piece of that pie. We have to make ourselves stand out and do better. I think customer service is the key to that. Cindy is the perfect example of customer service. She goes above and beyond for me. We are very community-minded and so is WKDZ. We partner on many things to help our community.
Cindy: Mallory invests enough in her advertising to make a difference. You can have a small schedule out there but it is not going to get you the coverage you need. She is willing to invest with us, through us in a partnership. It makes a difference when you are heard a lot.
Mallory: The majority of my advertising budget is with WKDZ. It is close to 100K a year.
Radio Ink: How do you know radio is working for you?
Mallory: One other point I want to bring up, I can decide this morning that tomorrow I want to do a 3-day meat sale. I can meet with Cindy and it can be sent out in a media blast, or they can cut ads for me that quick and make it happen. I know because of the traffic. I see people come in and they are my primary source of advertising. I may advertise with the local newspaper once a month only because I feel sorry for them.
Cindy: She has found out that newspaper is not the route to go anymore. We are proud to be there for Mallory and help her build her business. We want to be here every step of the way. She continues to kick it up a notch.
Mallory: The big-box stores are now getting into online shopping, so I have partnered with a company and hopefully within the next month our site will be ready and we will be able to offer online shopping. This is a perfect example of how this radio station has worked for me. I have done grocery delivery for several years. Customers can call in on Tuesdays and Thursdays and order their food. We do this mainly for older clientele and get them their groceries that day. Cindy and I were talking about it and we felt that was an area we could grow in. We cut an ad for that a few months ago and it has doubled in numbers since. With this new company, we will have people make their selections online, tell us what time they will be there and we will have the groceries ready for them to pick up or we can help them out to their car. We have to do things different from the way we were with this new Millennial crowd.
Radio Ink: Tell us specifically how you are using radio, promotions, ads?
Cindy: She runs commercials in our morning show. We are a very agriculture oriented community so it is important to let our farmers know that we do realize where the food comes from. She runs ads in our three-hour morning show so her message is getting out there. She sponsors our birthdays and anniversaries. She is on during our noon news, our 5 p.m. news — at different times of the day because you have to be everywhere. She has a good run of schedule. She runs on our sister WHBO. That is a whole different audience for her, our baby boomers. That covers a different area. We have about a 65-mile radius for a station. You have people who drive from Dover, Tennessee, because they shopped in Princeton when that location was open and they love Hancock’s so much. She sponsors sports. We do a customer appreciation day every June and she gives food away like crazy. I don’t know how many hotdogs and hamburgers free of charge she has given to just say thank you. We broadcast live on that day. It is awesome to see people because she is thanking them, but I hear the people thanking her for what she does for the community. She has recently been named agrobusiness of the year a few weeks ago at National AG Week. She runs a great schedule. She has an ad on the front page of our website where people can go find her specials for free. They don’t have to get the newspaper ad and get ink on their hands. I see people in the store after they print it out and highlight things that they want. She is in all the right places doing all the right things to be successful. I am so proud to partner with her.
Radio Ink: How does digital fit into what you’re doing?
Cindy: She runs in our digital newsletter. We do an entertainment edge on Wednesday because her new specials start on Wednesday. We are immediately talking about “click here for the today’s specials.” She does our news edge which comes out on Friday once a month. In February, she did some great deals on chocolate-covered strawberries and we promoted that. In March, it was thanking our farmers. We do one of those every month on something special that’s coming up. She also does a great job with her own Facebook page.
Mallory: I have a woman who works for me that manages the Facebook page. We did the strawberry promotion on there.
Radio Ink: We are always told radio is dead Mallory.
Mallory: As far as WKDZ goes, it is a long way from there. We are in a rural community. I will tell you my secretary is 79 years old. She was in my office this morning talking about WKDZ and how we had a power outage for a little over an hour. My secretary was at work and she left to go to Princeton about 30 minutes from here. She said WKDZ came on and told us what was going on and let us know when the power came back on. That is what you get with this radio station. I know there are small radio stations across the country that are like WKDZ and that is what we want to be in our business, everything we can be to our customer.
Radio Ink: What would you say to other advertisers who are afraid to get into radio?
Mallory: I would say they just need to give it a try. How do you know that it’s not going to work. You need to commit a certain amount of time to explore that and find out if it works for you. I will tell you my father was not like me — I jumped in all the way. I am a firm believer. Early on I advertised in the newspaper and there was not one thing in that ad that was correct. They did not proofread it at all. That was the defining moment for me. I decided I was done with newspaper and put all my money in radio. I didn’t have an ad in the newspaper. I printed flyers with my ads on it and I did radio. It’s grown from there. I am living proof that it works.
Radio Ink: What do you think that radio station means to the community from where you stand?
Mallory: This radio station is one of the most important things we have in this community. I can go back to the ice storm. When we had that storm, they let people know what was going on. Anytime there is a natural disaster, they tell you what’s going on. They are here to report what’s going on. It is one of the most important things in the community.
Reach out to Cindy and congratulate her on 25 years in the business at [email protected]