Why do you record your own radio commercials? Why do you invest in radio and Rockford?

For the last two months, I’ve been writing and producing commercials that air on the radio station about using radio to market and advertise your business.  I’ve mentioned a tattoo on my forehead.  I’ve offered to send prospective or current advertisers a book.  I’ve offered to have a glass of wine with community members.

Here’s what’s funny: people have heard these ads and reacted to them.

I’ve been asked for multiple copies of the book. 

My wife was asked by a friend of hers if I really had a tattoo on my forehead (I don’t).

A current advertiser sent me a text on Christmas Eve telling me he loved the commercial.

A local banker stopped me in a restaurant and told me he loves the commercials I’m doing.

I’ve also got the question about “Why are you doing those?” 

My quick answer is that we need to eat our own dog food. 

We’re telling businesses every day that they need to brand and advertise consistently.  It’s what makes the difference in long term success or failure for a local business, no matter the industry or the size.  If we’re spreading the message, I should be doing the same thing we’re telling advertisers – running an integrated campaign using all the tools available.  That’s what this campaign represents. 

And guess what?  In addition to the comments, we’ve had a number of customers reach out and want to learn more about advertising.

I also get the question of, “Doesn’t that make you sound desperate for business?” 

Easy answer: Nope. 

Good advertising is about building a story in the mind of a current or potential buyer and that’s all I’m doing with the advertising and marketing education stories and pieces I use.

My favorite question is really the topic for this blog post: “Are you afraid that owning a radio station in Rockford is a bad decision for a 40-something-year-old?”

I can see the point of the question if all you’re reading are headlines.  Some headlines will make you believe that radio is dying.  Some headlines will make you believe that Rockford is a dying city.

Neither could be further from the truth.

I love radio for these reasons:

1 – You can make an IMPACT and a DIFFERENCE on your community, a business, or a listener.  A good radio station and/or a good radio advertising campaign can change a life (or save a life).  This weekend, 104-9 The X saved up to 294 lives with their annual Saturday January blood drive.  The blood center calls it “one of their best annual events.”

2 – Radio done right is LOCAL.  There are many “audio” and entertainment alternatives out there today.  But radio, at its core, is a local business.  Pandora, Spotify, or XM won’t bring out donors to a one-day event hosted by three local personalities.  Sure, you can advertise the need to donate blood on those services, but when it’s time to “Pop Up” and make a local impact, radio is there to be held accountable for performance.

3 – Speaking of accountability, radio is 100% accountable.  There are no bots, Russians, or other ways to manipulate our algorithms or views or impressions.  If you order a commercial, we play it as ordered.  If we screw it up, we make it good.  It’s not a guessing game to see if your ad was served or seen.  Plus, at Mid-West Family Broadcasting, the decision maker sits right here in an office on Sandy Hollow Road.  We’re not waiting for the menu to be released from central command.  We create our own dishes each day with the ingredients we have available with our local staff and local suppliers. 

4 – Radio has reach.  Depending on which statistics you believe, radio reaches  93% of adults each week.  That’s more than TV which is second place in reach – and with Radio, you can’t DVR us.

5 – Radio done right is curated.  People like to hold Pandora up as a great service.  In fact, it is.  But, it’s not that difficult to pick the Kenny Chesney station on Pandora and then get Keith Urban and Brad Paisley songs too.  You don’t need a Stanford degree to figure out that a Pearl Jam fan will like Soundgarden.  However, radio, when curated correctly, will keep the fan guessing as to what is next and create a flow of sound.  In fact, one of the top designers at Ford Motor Company knows he’s going to keep AM/FM in the car dashboard for the curation factor, no matter how fancy the dashboard gets.

6 – Radio is effective.  As described in the opening, radio gets results.  When I worked in Houston, there was an advertiser that owned a wheel and frame store.  It was located next to a Gentlemen’s Club.  Now, there’s nothing exciting about a wheel or frame purchase.  In fact, many call it a grudge purchase – meaning that, you buy a new wheel because you have to – because something broke.  So, the owner of this store had a good sense of humor.  He also didn’t get carried away about his reputation.  When you needed his service you came and saw him.  So, in his commercials, he said, “You’ll probably never find me in the store because I’m usually next door at the Gentleman’s Club.”  Well, after about 90 days of this message, anytime a customer saw him in the store, they’d say, “What are you doing here?”  It’s very similar to the “tattoo on my forehead” experience.  Plus, he took a risk and said something that could be considered “Dangerous!” and it paid off.

7 – Radio has a future.  While 5G is upon us, curated and creatively presented radio that is local will be around for many more years.

These are only a few reasons why I love radio and why it can be effective for your business.  But like radio, Rockford isn’t dying either.

Why do I love Rockford? 

1 – You can make an impact.  If you choose to get involved, you can impact the community, the schools, an organization, or your neighborhood.

2 – Rockford is local.  You can’t go to a restaurant or run an errand without bumping into someone you know from work, school, church, or another endeavor.

3 – Rockford is accountable.  We’re working to own our future through initiatives like Transform Rockford.

4 – Rockford has reach.  Within 90 minutes, I can be in the third largest city in America, the great American city of Milwaukee, or America’s #1 college town – Madison.  A couple minutes extra is the Mississippi River.  The world is at my fingertips within an hour at O’Hare Airport.  Rockford also reaches the world with our aircraft production facilities and the aircraft parts we supply.  

5 – Rockford is curated and cared about.  While we have issues like any other American city, we have leaders focused on our future.

6 – Rockford has a future.  A bright future.  Being proximate to three major metropolitan areas helps this middle market city prosper into the coming years.

So, that’s the long answer to the question – why are you recording commercials and why do you love radio so much?  Radio and Rockford are very similar.  Rockford is real and authentic.  We work hard.  We make things.  Radio is the same way.  Radio is real.  In radio, the harder you work, the more success you can have.  In both radio and Rockford, the more you invest, the more you will get back. 

Many people have said, “Are the best days for Radio behind the industry?”  The same has been asked of Rockford.  The answer is an unequivocal “NO!” 

There will always be new shiny objects to attract our attention.  In radio, those are the digital media options.  But, people always come back to thing mediums that work – and radio is that medium. 

Rockford, with a gritty history, will always look less shiny than Savannah or Austin, especially on January 30.  However, the strong always survive. 

And, in Rockford and in radio, we make things.  We’ll make our own destiny.  And, we’ll eat our own dog food.

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