“We can’t give
away gas cards to our listeners!” an impassioned program director
told the sales manager, in no uncertain terms.
‘Shut Up and Drive
Month’ — Encourage listeners not to text and drive, keeping them
engaged and unharmed.
“But these are
$100 gift cards!” exclaimed the man who keeps the station solvent,
wondering why on earth he was hearing this.
“I don’t care,”
said the PD. “Our listeners are environmentalists and not only
won’t they want free gas, they’ll be angry at us for giving it
away. No way are we doing that.”
Having sat down
between them minutes earlier, I looked forward to the pleasure of
being their moderator. The sales manager looked at me. I asked, “How
much money is on the line?”
“It’s a $30,000
buy! But only if we do the promotion to give away the gift cards.”
I had asked the
question to see if this would sway the PD. It didn’t. Instead, he
became even more obstinate when I asked to see the research
indicating that the station’s listeners either didn’t drive cars
or didn’t want free gas. His response: “I don’t need any
research to tell me what I know is fact.”
You know how this
ends. Of course the station gave away the gift cards and got the $30K
advertising buy from the agency. I later asked if they received any
reaction from the audience. Yes, they had each received calls from
the typical 20-something listeners anxious to know when the next gas
card giveaway would be.
I took away several
lessons from the episode.
directors may be great at picking music but should not jump to
behavior conclusions about a target audience without evidence.
Second, when there’s
a lot of money on the line, a sales department almost always has the
interestingly, there are many fun things to promote around the very
subject of transportation. Here are a few idea starters you may use
for promotions and, if you’re smart, you’ll also make money with
Blow the dust off
this gem, which I heard the first time thanks to the father of
classic rock, Fred Jacobs.
The first thing
you’ll need is something that looks like a parking ticket. But
instead, it’s the exact opposite. It tells the car’s driver that
Lovely Rita from Classic Rock 103 noticed that their meter had
expired and so paid for more time, hoping to save them from a real
your station’s ticket on the windshield of every car to which she
contributed a few quarters for a meter. The sponsor gets its logo on
the ticket (with a coupon if the client opts for it), coupled with
all the on-air promotional announcements:
the Rock 103 Meter Maid, saved a bunch of people from getting stuck
with parking tickets downtown yesterday. If you see Rita on the
street, be sure to honk and say hello! Brought to you by [for
example, Citizens Bank], where your hard-earned change grows with
interest that’s five times the national average.”
In you deal with the
client, be sure to build the cost of the meter change into the sales
package, so the client picks up the expense. You’ll be surprised
how many cars you can save with even just $30 a day.
Cute uniforms are
optional but encouraged if you happen to hire the right interns!
Metro systems often have print budgets to produce brochures promoting
city events like street festivals, foot races and parades. It’s up
to you to figure out what content would be interesting for the guide
— at a minimum, the brochure should contain schedules and locations
of the events, and how to get to them via Metro.
You could also
include links to website resources, event history and pictures from
previous years. Promote pick-up locations for these guides on your
radio station(s). You may also want to make space for coupons from
the sponsors of the event and other clients you bring to the program.
Find the right
contact at your metro system and you might be able to pull this off
several times a year. It’s also great exposure for the station.
‘PARTY BUS #22’
If you’re in a
place where concerts and sporting events are difficult to reach, it’s
a safe bet that you can sell at least one or two bus trips to
listeners who want to get there and not worry about driving. Partner
with a local travel agency who already has a list of active customers
interested in entertainment.
Always reserve a few
seats to give away on-air so you have an easy excuse to promote the
ticket sales. You may be able to get a group rate on the tickets when
you buy 30 at a time from the promoter or stadium.
Each bus can be
sponsored. Always send a “host.” Let people bring their own
from your first few trips to prime the pump for the next ones.
Eventually you get a group of regulars who like to travel to together
on the Party Bus.
‘SHUT UP AND DRIVE
not to text while driving by having them sign a pledge on your
website. Or have listeners text the word “pledge” to your
station’s SMS system (not while driving, obviously!). Everyone who
“signs” the pledge becomes eligible to win a new smartphone from
the mobile phone provider (or retailer) who sponsored the pledge
Because everyone is
on the go, there are countless ways for you to engage your audience
and actually become part of their lives beyond the airwaves. With a
little imagination, you can take your station places it has not been
Mark Lapidus is
president of Lapidus Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.