Is Your Website Billing Three Million Dollars?

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May 3, 2022 by Sean Luce

Sean's Note:  This article was written back in 2007, add 15 years of sizable growth and you have some serious revenue.  Castanet.net has added a Radio station back into the Media property...Soft 103.9. and has offices in Penticton and Vernon.  The new markets also use the Castanet brand but the content and advertising is taylored to the viewer as they choose the area they are from in a dropdown menu in the header ...very smart.

 

Maybe the difference between winning and losing is not quitting - Walt Disney.

Far too often we give up when success is just around the corner, or at least we are on the road to success. In a Radio Ink article (August 6, 2007), I wrote about a small website in Kelowna, British Columbia, population 160,000. The city is situated in the Okanagan Valley which is 250 miles east of Vancouver. Kelowna sits on Lake Okanagan. The community reminds me of Lake Wobegon which is Garrison Keillors fictional town in Minnesota.

Lake Wobegon is the perfect utopian paradise. In my opinion, Kelowna is Canadas equivalent of Lake Wobegon. Except it is a real city, and this website is the real deal. When Nick Frost, owner and operator sold SILK-FM in January of 2007, Nick decided to keep the website Castanet.net. That little website is currently pacing at $3,000,000 dollars per year with no funding from a radio or TV station property.

Not long ago, I was reviewing the top web revenue/radio station in the USA. WTOP (The Digital Revenue Machine-Radio Ink May 2, 2011) bills around $3 million per year in Washington, DC; a top 10 rated US market. Looking at some quick analytics on those population numbers, Washington DC is the 9th ranked Arbriton market with a population base of 4.4 million people.  Kelowna has a population of 160,000 people. That is roughly a difference of 4.2 million, yet the revenue is the same. Hmmmm.How can a small website in the middle of British Columbia be billing the equivalent income as the #1 revenue radio website in the US?

Born of Radio: Castanet was developed in November of 2000 as Kelownas home page. Castanet was in the red for several years. According to Nick Frost, Castanet lost in excess of one million dollars during the early years.  At the beginning of 2007, Castanet started to turn a profit. The radio station, SILK FM, was sold that same year. Until the sale, SILK-FM had provided the Air Force that drove locals to the Ground Force website, Castanet. In the meantime, Castanet was mastering the local content which gave viewers a reason to return for the latest news and information. Every radio/TV station has this same opportunity as long as the content is compelling. The Castanet unique visitor traffic averages around 220,000 per week which is incredible in itself. 

A website can create significant numbers in traffic, but learn how to sell the website. The Castanet reps have been taught to sell professionally first and their website second. What does that mean? Castanet does not sell by cost per click. The most important factor in selling a website or any other media is to find the emotional connection with the prospect. The connection is established with a tailored Customer Marketing Profile (1st call needs analysis) designed exclusively for Castanet reps. The same templates that are used to sell Castanet are used by many of our other media properties. With Castanet being a pure play( a stand-alone web site) digital media property, we can measure, source and track the ads. However, tracking is not the end all. At the end of the day, the reps are focused on providing results for their clients. A customer can have a .4% click-through ratio on their ad. However if the ads are not generating traffic for the business then it can all be for naught. One of the primary tools that Castanet uses is sourcing at the client level. The reps use a Return on Investment Interactive calculator as a guideline for conversions of in-store traffic and measuring results for their customer. This ROII calculator can be found at www.luceperformancegroup.com.

How is selling for a website different from selling other media? There really is no difference. Chris Kearney, General Manager/Sales Manager of Castanet still has to manage by supply and demand.  He has to create the depth of inventory. The production department still has to pump out the spec ads which run about 30-40 per month in new customer ads.  The spec ads are generated in-house. Over the past few years, Castanet has developed several different franchises to place under the Castanet umbrella. Some examples include an Automall, RV Powersports Mall, Showhome Showcase and Shopping Central. These add-ons take away direct mail/newspaper insertion money, and put it in Castanets pocket.

The most important point is to develop the local clients results! Does this sound familiar? It should. Maybe the difference for radio stations is not quitting on their local websites. I see quite a number of good radio stations achieving respectable revenue and pulling in high traffic numbers. My real message here is dont quit! Maybe it is time to revamp the website, keep the content in line with what the local viewer wants to see.  Providing quality subject matter to the viewers will in turn keep advertisers returning. If the new game of digital is being measured by selling results and turning a profit, maybe we need a little old school (selling techniques) in our new game of digital?

Sean Luce is the Old/New School Instructor at the Luce Performance Group in Houston, Texas and can be reached at sean@luceperformancegroup.com.

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