If the Business is Broken Radio Alone Can't Fix It

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Feb 7, 2005 by Sean Luce

Each year, I spend 200 days in the field, working with sales reps on local and national accounts ranging from mom-and-pops to the largest coffee producers in the world. As a result, I see eye-opening stuff every day, much of it in the form of marketing blunders. It's no wonder to me, therefore, that 90 percent of new businesses never make it to their one-year anniversary.

Here is an e-mail I recently received from a business owner who was wondering why his marketing is not working. (Let's start by saying that many business owners should not be handling their own advertising.)

"I spend $400 a month on billboards. I send out flyers. I just spent $7,000 in November and December with a radio station. I cut out my advertising altogether on another radio station that is actually a better target geographically than the one on which I spent $7,000. I didn't see much of an increase in traffic. If I advertised on the radio station that was cut, I would be in the hole money-wise. I'm doing direct mail to my customer database and giving these people a coupon for 30 percent off one item. I had a great turnout, but I don't want to be known as a discount shop.I got people in to see what we have. I have some good help that is very friendly? I just need to get traffic in the door! I don't have the best location, next to a Wal-Mart with tons of traffic - what can I say?"- Store Owner

It's important to note that the store's marketing budget is controlled by an outside accountant located in a city 150 miles away. Unfortunately, many radio-marketing reps are not trained in multi-media strengths and weaknesses and are focused only on selling radio.What a shame! Here is an opportunity to help someone who needs it.

Getting It Together

One of the more important facets of marketing overlooked by business owners is the continuity aspect, tying their marketing to an impetus that carries the same message and does not confuse the target audience. The sales team for Eagles Landing Skin Care Center, which does surgery-free cosmetic enhancements in Atlanta, wanted me to endorse the business. Before I accepted, I told them that they should tie radio with TV and any print and billboards they use, to bring a common theme and message to their audience. Why put out different messages with nothing to tie them together? Why doesn't broadcast (air force) support the print (ground force), instead of the other way around?

On a recent market trip to Canada, I was asked to work with a women's clothing store that was having trouble "getting people in the door." They were running radio and print to a target audience of females age 25+, although the price of the average dress was $350, and the clothes were predominately fitted and styled to females 44+. I walked outside to look at the exterior of the store, which was located on a downtown street.The awning was filthy, and the color scheme reminded the viewer of an ice cream shop, rather than an upscale women's clothing store. Driving past this store would in no way entice a buyer for the upscale clothes inside.

But wait, there's more: The slick newspaper ad taped to the outside of the window featured models who were 20 years younger than the actual target of the store.

Sometimes I wonder how businesses get any people in their doors with such a lack of marketing discipline and strategies.

Before a dollar or Euro is spent on advertising, we should do a thorough breakdown of the business to determine more than just where they are advertising or spending their marketing dollar. These businesses need real help - not just spots on our radio stations. You could have the best radio station in the world, but if you're up against some of the above examples, it won't matter.

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