Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Radio Listener is Unforgiving

About 6 weeks ago, I got a call from someone I hadn't seen for at least 8 years.

The last time we spoke was when we were both working for a commercial radio station. He was a Sales Manager, I was the Commercial Producer. His relationship with Airforce stretches back many many years and he is a huge fan of our work.

To cut a long story short, I got the call because this chap had been called in to turn an ailing radio station around and he wanted us to improve the station's commercial output.

This is a small station with a poor track record. So the challenge of clearing up the mess from the past is going to be hard one. But this guy WANTS to make it work, the station's owners want to make it work and so do all the staff. In a few weeks, the station has re-branded and reformatted. To attract more 'national' revenue it will be going into RAJAR soon. Already the signs are good. Staff Morale is good, average order values are up and the audience is responding favourably to the new sound. Having said that, the station is very aware it has a long way to go. But no problem, they are on the case.

My job is to focus on improving the sound of the commercials. I am in regular contact with the sales team and doing everything I can to assist them. Such as accompanying them on sales calls. Even on projects that just require 'everyday' commercial production, I am trying to make a point of being there. If other businesses hear half-decent ads on the station, chances are they will want a slice of the action.

We're calling the initiative 'A New Creative Attitude'. My deal with the station is that we will provide free creative training, instigate at our own cost an on air creative strategy to attract new advertisers and embed a better creative mind-set in the sales team. In return Airforce will get new business leads. We win, the station wins, the advertisers win and the audience wins.

And while all that is happening, I get emails from 2 community radio stations asking how much Airforce charge to make radio ads. I gave them an indication and BOTH responded by saying words to the effect of: 'Those costs are too high, we're only a community station'.

Look: Just because you're a Community radio station, it doesn't mean the audience is going to be happy with your naff commercial output. Remember what Advertising Guru David Ogilvy once said ? 'The consumer is not a Moron, she is your wife'. Imagine you are the marketing manager of Ford cars. You are instigating a poster campaign. One poster site is in a small village with a population of 500 people. Just because it's 'only' 500 people, does that mean Ford would be happy to put up a sub standard poster up in that village ? Of course not. They will do the job properly and ensure that the product is ALWAYS presented in the best possible light regardless of the size of audience. Whether you're a national radio station, a regional station, a local station or a community station: The audience is unforgiving. They will ALWAYS opt for someone that comes across better than someone who sounds tatty and amateurish.

If a radio station believes businesses will only pay tuppence for radio advert production, tuppence is all you will get. But if you're a station that believes that it's worth forking out a few more quid to get things right, then your clients will believe that too. Last week another Community station called and asked Airforce to help out. So far we've worked on 2 projects (One directly, one indirectly)and on both occasions, clients have invested significantly more money in their sound because we helped them understood the value of doing so.

And all that links back to the station we're helping to turn round. OK, the station we're helping is just a wee bit larger than the community stations, but the principal is the same....

It's all about mindset. We have 2 stations that don't believe and we have 2 stations that do.

...Which of these stations do you think will ultimately be most successful ?

John Calvert.
Whether you're a radio station or a radio advertiser, let us help to turn things round. Contact us here.