July 2007 - Channel Crossing: Radio

The Value of Branding

By Ken Michelini

Once upon a time, back when I was young and impressionable, I was influenced by a man for whom I had a great deal of respect. He said to me, “We work in direct response; we’re not concerned with branding.” This was a hard pill for me to swallow because I came from radio. Unfortunately for me, I believed him and spent the better part of 10 years in the dark, often at a disservice to my clients.

A solid brand is influential and can help you attract customers. It’s the ad agencies’ responsibility to protect and get the most out of the brand’s value. Anyone can throw calls, but if they’re not closable, then you’re not helping your client in the long run.

Most DR is done with print. The offer is written down, mailed out and the marketer waits for the one- to three-percent return. But the power of radio is that it is oral. You can talk about love, hate, god and politics. You can pay on- air talent to say exactly what you want, adding credibility to your message. This emotional tie-in is what gives radio its power, and you can equally and easily hurt your clients’ brands with cheap offers that sound disingenuous.

Thankfully, with media deregulation, most large companies like Clear Channel and CBS offer fully integrated solutions for brands that are serious about results. Now you can create a powerful and compelling on-air message, and reinforce it with online marketing programs or streaming options. Plus, they may offer billboards or signage at major sporting and entertainment events. And, you can do it all at once, controlling the message nationally and locally at the same time. It’s all there, but select few marketers are comfortable putting their investment in one place when they don’t understand how it’s all interconnected.

Offer a respectable deal. You’d be surprised at how they’ll bend over backwards to deliver and also at what they can bring to the table. For instance, instead of buying frequency, did you ever consider buying an embedded and powerful on-air interview? You might if the station or network would bonus you as many streaming ads as you thought necessary to deliver your pre-determined return on investment.

With rates increasing everywhere, a successful campaign needs to leverage every available opportunity. This means DR radio is not simply monitoring individual phone numbers. You also need web and video skills along with an open mind that DR can give consideration to your brand.

There’s an old joke about advertising. The owner of a store says, “Half my advertising works great, but I just don’t know which half.” Well, now you don’t need to. If you can clearly spell out your objectives to just one trusted corporate radio partner, there’s enough bandwidth to get the job done. If you don’t use the medium to its potential, you’ll lose out to your competitors who do.

Ken Michelini is the president and owner of Result Advertising, a direct response agency specializing in radio. He can be reached at (248) 613-1015 or via e-mail at [email protected].


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