Industry Views

Monday Memo: “Try this…”

By Holland Cooke
Consultant

Joe Pags - Radio stationCompanies hire consultants to avoid experiments. We improve results by customizing and implementing Best Practices proven elsewhere. So, I’m about to break a rule, because advertisers in a super-opportune category have become a noisy blur.

Personal Injury: The gift that keeps-on-giving

Legal representation of purported victims of fender benders, slip-and-fall accidents, and other “injuries caused by the negligent, careless, or reckless actions of others” is an industry in which supply exceeds demand. Thus, all the outdoor and TV advertising. And too little radio.

In the Providence, RI TV market I watch at home, this category stands shoulder-to-shoulder with look-alike automotive spots in sheer dollars over-spent. And their message is the same on billboards:

— The attorney’s head shot (also a real estate agent cliché); and

— 6-figure settlements touted.

Because they’re all shouting the same thing, they resort to tactics:

— Attorney Rob Levine is “The Heavy Hitter,” and runs enough TV that viewers in Southern New England can sing the jingle: “The Heavy Hitter is the one for you. Call one-eight-hundred-law-one-two-two-two.” To his credit, it’s a different phone number than his web site offers, so he can track TV results.

— Easier to remember: Bottaro Law: 777-7777.

Watching local Las Vegas TV while at CES recently was a deep dive into Law advertising. The pitch from several I saw was we charge less, like a shameless radio competitor dropping-trou’ to get the entire buy.

If we don’t win, you don’t pay

 “What are your rights? What is your case worth?” Possibly a cash amount divisible-by-3, if that’s the attorney’s contingency.

Those expensive nationally syndicated TV spots (customized for the local firm) depict fearful insurance executives eager to settle. And the attorney may threaten that, “if they don’t, we’ll beat ‘em in court.” Baloney, that’s the last thing the lawyer wants. Too time-consuming and risking a losing verdict.

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Like radio commercials, attorneys’ inventory is perishable

— We can’t sell yesterday’s empty spot avail; and lawyers’ closing opportunity is “B.I.S.,” Butts In Seats for that free, no-obligation consultation, in-person, where the seller goes for the close.

— If nobody was sitting in that chair today (“intake”), no sale.

— And that’s how attorneys are missing a bet not using radio.

“The lawyer is in, the meter is off”

 That’s the proposition when they field listener calls in brokered weekend talk radio shows.

— DONE RIGHT, these shows can run-rings-around TV and outdoor ROI.

— Forgive caps lock in that last sentence, but it’s a crying shame how – at too many stations – the audition for pay-for-play weekend talkers is the-check-didn’t-bounce. One of the things I do for client stations is coach-up weekend warriors — in hosting fundamentals that are second-nature to us — but not to non-career broadcasters. Results = renewals. Otherwise brokered hosts churn, a management distraction, and upsetting listening habits.

— Occasionally, in markets where I don’t even have a client station, I’m working with lawyers (and real estate agents, financial advisors, foodies, and other ask-the-expert hosts), because nobody at the station is doing airchecks with them.

— No billboard or tacky TV spot can humanize the attorney – and demonstrate the comforting counsel – like eavesdropping on a conversation with a caller’s relatable situation.

Think “sales funnel”


We know how to make the phone ring, specific dance steps. The more callers, the better.

— When lines are full, screeners can choose callers whose dilemma is in the attorney’s lane. If, for instance, the host specializes in Personal Injury (or “Family Law,” translation divorce; or another specialty), calls about real estate transactions are off-topic.

— Do this right, and – before the host can offer – callers will often ask “May I call you in the office on Monday?”

Admittedly, this is an experiment…

…because I am frustrated witnessing all this noisy me-too advertising.

Personal Injury cases are he-said-she-said. So try this, and tell me if it works.

— Sales 101: That first call is Needs Assessment, right? Know the prospect’s pain.

— Yet too many radio reps resemble Herb Tarlek, telling the station’s story. Amoeba-shaped coverage maps and ratings rankers and rate cards all look alike…like Law firm marketing.

— I’m telling any attorney willing to listen to make four words the centerpiece of the marketing message, and they’re the same four words that turn callers into clients for weekend talkers: “Tell me what happened.”

The Free Prize Inside: Podcasts

Lifting weekend calls to repurpose as on-demand audio is digital marketing value-added.

Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a consultant working at the intersection of broadcasting and the Internet. He is the author of “Multiply Your Podcast Subscribers, Without Buying Clicks,” available from Talkers books; and “Spot-On: Commercial Copy Points That Earned The Benjamins,” a FREE download; and the E-book and FREE on-air radio features Inflation Hacks: Save Those Benjamins.” Follow HC on Twitter @HollandCooke

Industry News

Andy Anderson Upped to Chief Revenue Officer at AURN

American Urban Radio Network announces that William “Andy” Anderson is promoted to chief revenue officer for the company. He’s been serving as president of sales for the past four years. AURN says, “With his extensive experience in the industry and a proven track record, Anderson will be leading the charge inMuseum of Broadcast Communications - Museum of Broadcast Communications maximizing revenue opportunities, product acquisitions and original content creations for the company. AURN CEO Chesley Maddox-Dorsey adds, “Andy’s success in developing a vision and providing strong leadership for growing company-wide activities and strategies focused on generating, maintaining and increasing revenue is unparalleled. This is a well-earned promotion.” The company adds that under Anderson’s tenure, it has seen its station affiliations grow, launched the AURNGAMING division and realized various digital expansions including podcasts and programmatic marketing.

Industry Views

Stars and Their Platforms

By Walter Sabo
Host/Producer, Sterling on Sunday
Media Consultant

Lucille Ball earned 50 shares with her classic TV series, “I Love Lucy.” Every year during her summer hiatus she would make a movie. Name a Lucille Ball movie.

Lucy was the all-time star of television but couldn’t open a movie. Each medium creates its own stars and rarely does a star transfer from one medium to another.

Some examples: “NYPD Blue” first season star David Caruso couldn’t wait to break out from TV and become a movie star. He recently retired from 10 years of work on the TV show “CSI Miami.” Exceptions? Maybe three: Michael J FoxWill SmithSteve McQueen.

The phenomenon of single medium stardom is true throughout all crafts. Great magazine writers struggle to turn in a publishable book. Book authors are challenged to condense their thoughts to 1,000 words. Megyn Kelly is a cable star but couldn’t cross the golden bridge to broadcast TV.

Every year a local TV weather person bugs the local talk station to fill-in on a talk show over a holiday. How does it go? Beware the fifth minute. After five minutes all of the passionate feelings the TV talent has about their pet topic have been expressed. With two hours and 55 minutes to go, the local weatherman is in trouble hosting an unscripted radio show. Where is the prompter? Where are the phone calls? But put a radio morning host on TV and the results are just as awful. The radio host looks fat because they have no idea how to dress for TV, they don’t understand the cue lights on the cameras and the prompter is confusing.

Which brings us to the relationship between radio and podcasting

One of the burdensome falsehoods of the moment is that radio talent should be churning out original content podcasts. It’s just audio right? Radio is good at talking! Podcasting has fostered its own stable of stars including Joe RoganAdam CarollaAnna Farris and Ben Shapiro (I know he’s a radio guy, but he’s a better podcaster). To a listener, the production styles of a podcast and live radio are strikingly similar, but you know that the production environments are completely different. Talent who intuitively understand on-demand audience preferences thrive hosting commercial-free podcasts. Radio talent excel within the disposable, often-interrupted flow of a live broadcast. Podcasts allow for thinking time, pausing, editing, correcting and fancy production beds. Live radio? You just better get to the next thing. The mindset of a podcast star versus a radio star must of necessity be appropriate to their unique performance stage.

Most radio managers have met with resistance when asking their talent to make original content podcasts. (Not air checks.) Radio talent is right to resist! Creating a very good radio show is demanding and often exhausting. After three or more hours on the air, no performer has the energy to hop into a production chair and attract a million downloads. Tragically mandatory podcast dictates leave little opportunity for talent to say, “I can’t do a podcast well. I’m a radio performer and isn’t that what you hired me for?” My goodness – such a radio talent would be labelled insubordinate, not a team player, and not part of the future!!!

To be productive and on-brand podcasts offered by a radio station should be hosted by podcast stars. The odds of a radio star creating a winning podcast are about the same as finding a Lucille Ball hit movie.

Walter Sabo is a long-time radio industry consultant and thought leader.  He hosts and produces a network radio show titled “Sterling on Sunday” 10:00 pm-1:00 am ET.  www.waltersterlingshow.com.   walter@sabomedia.com