Links from Business, Marketing, and Advertising #7

It’s been a little while since I posted a blog here.  I’ve been focused on getting our “This Week in the Stateline” up and running.  I’ve also learned an important lesson about the challenges of content marketing and owning the business – it’s darn near impossible to do both well AND have a life outside of the office.

Needless to say, it was an interesting week in Rockford advertising.  I’m out-and-about enough to answer some very difficult questions from advertisers.  I got two very interesting ones last week.

Question #1 came from a retailer.  It was more of a statement, looking for my response.  This gentleman said, “I see that the billboard company is running ads for themselves all over town.  Is the ad market that soft?”

It’s a very astute observation.  Since we don’t share information with other media outlets about how their business is doing, I couldn’t answer that question professionally.

I simply related my experience buying outdoor advertising 17 years ago in Houston.  The company at the time – CBS Outdoor – never ran ads for themselves.  They simply had their regular advertisers make extra “branding boards” to use when they had available inventory.  I was buying 15 faces on an annual basis at the time and I had 20 pieces of creative produced so I could be running up to 5 extra, depending on the week, month, or season.

The advertiser looked at me and said, “Hmm.”

The second question came because our competitors mailed a piece with ratings to many advertisers.  They said they were bigger than us.

An advertiser wanted my reaction.  I simply looked at the piece and complimented the professionalism of the work.  The advertiser, who is a friend, got a little frustrated with me because he wanted me to get mad.

I looked at him and said, “This piece looks great, but anytime we talk, it should be about youNot my numbers, but your top or bottom line.  I need to be in tune with your business and nothing more.  If we can make your cash register ring, that’s all that matters.”

The advertiser looked at me and said, “You’re right.  It’s about customer focus and service.  I never go to the biggest retailer in the market.  I like the personal touch and focus we have on growing my bottom line.”

Then he paused and said, “And this can’t be repeated, but your team really does focus on my business and doing right for our business community.  That means more than any mailing piece with numbers ever will.  I’m glad we’re partners.  By the way, my experience is that guys who brag about how big they are, generally are the opposite.”

I thanked him for his candor and headed to the State of the County address with Chairman Haney.

Enough about the market, here are some links that can help you grow your business and understand marketing better:

1 – Facebook has been front and center.  I have no clue what will happen with the service in the future, but I believe the effectiveness of ads for businesses will drop in the coming weeks and month.  It’ll still be incredibly affordable (and we buy Facebook advertising), but cheap doesn’t always get results.

Plus, broadcast entities are regulated by the FCC.  Facebook, Google, and others are not.  If we don’t operate in the public interest, we can have our license pulled.  Facebook and Google can only be swayed by their customer base.

I also find it very ironic that Mr. Zuckerberg used “legacy media” of newspapers to publish his apology over the weekend.

2 – Discounts only work once in a while.  Restaurants that rely on them are in trouble.

3 – There’s a ton of marketing confusion out there.

4 – We air some Westwood One programming.  Part of me reads this as propaganda, but there are some really good pieces of information to glean.  And here too from Crain’s in Cleveland.

Until we write again – May your days be profitable.


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.

It’s OK for Manufacturing Companies to Advertise Locally

Here in the Midwest, we cherish our manufacturing heritage and legacy. 

We celebrate the tradition of hard work and grittiness that makes us who we are. 

We’re proud of what we make and what we’ve made.

In the advertising business, our manufacturing heritage sometimes holds us back because many manufacturers in the Stateline don’t sell directly to consumers.  I’ve had more than 3 owners of local manufacturing businesses, who have become friends, say to me, “I’d love to advertise with you, but I don’t sell any products locally.” 

That’s when I cringe and politely bite my tongue, like any good Midwestern. 

What I really want to say is, “Just because you don’t sell direct to consumers or locally, that’s an even bigger reason to market and advertise.” 

So, with a bold statement like that, here are some “hows and whys” for manufacturing companies to advertise locally:

1 – It helps with recruitment.  We often hear that the most desired companies for new college grads are Apple and Google, or one of those FAANG stocks.  Why is that?  Because their brands are trusted and respected.  Their  brands are also known.  People want to work for companies that are known.  They don’t want to say, “I work at the plant behind the railroad tracks.”  They want to say, “I work at Allied Manufacturing” and get a smile from their conversation partner, because the community knows what Allied Manufacturing means to the region. 

2 – It helps with recognition.  There’s not a trip around northern Illinois where I wonder, “what do they make in there?”  In the Rockford region, we’re a top 5 town for manufacturing aircraft parts.  We have parts on the Mars rover from a company in Roscoe.  You can’t fly on a plane without one of the components being manufactured in Rockford or the surrounding communities.  However, the businesses that are making these parts aren’t telling their story locally, on a consistent basis.  A nice 21-52 radio advertising campaign on a local station would help with that recognition issue. 

3 – It helps you stand-out and get picked.  When I worked in Minnesota, we had an advertiser that was an IT firm.  They sponsored a number of “programs” on our sports station.  They put their name out there in a crowded field so that when their sales representatives picked up the phone to call out, they were recognized.  It also helped them get “picked” when someone was going through a Google search of IT firms.      

4 – It shows your business cares about the community.  By sponsoring local shows and events, it demonstrates how much you care about our region by supporting efforts to make our place the best possible area to live.  It also supports local jobs and commerce.  There are many ways to do this – from sponsoring the “Teacher of the Week” program on a local station or simply running commercials about your firm’s commitment to the community, you are telling your story, early and often.

5 – It’s OK that you don’t sell locally or direct to consumer.  Two of the most iconic brands in the world, Coca-Cola and Budweiser don’t sell much direct-to-consumer.  Think of all the channels you go through if you want a Coke?  Coke has the patent and sells the syrup to a bottling company.  That bottling company may or may not be owned by Coca-Cola.  That bottling group then makes the product and sells it to Sam’s Club or Subway or 7-11.  That point of purchase then sells you a Coca-Cola to enjoy with your turkey sandwich.  Along the way, that Coke has gone through five or six different channels to be delivered to you, the consumer.  It’s the same with Budweiser, which by archaic prohibition laws, cannot sell direct to consumers or establishments.

However, Budweiser and Coca-Cola are two of the top marketers and advertisers in the world.  It’s the same with Dorito’s and other consumer products. 

As a former resident of St. Louis and Atlanta, I saw first-hand how these local manufacturing firms advertised locally to remind residents of their commitment to the community.  Whether it was their ownership of a baseball team or being the force behind hosting the Olympics, the way these firms advertised in the hometown reflected their sense of place within the community. 

Now for the kicker, I’d like to show one local Rockford area manufacturing firm how and why to advertise.  If you shoot me a note on the “contact us” tab, I’ll meet with you and we’ll devise a campaign that will run on our stations for your local manufacturing business.  We’ll spend the time to get your business recognized in the community so you can get picked – and help with recruitment. 

I look forward to hearing from you!

Blog #6 – Links from Marketing, Media, and Advertising

Christmas is just one week away.  Flag these pieces and read them when you have a little downtime over the holiday.

1 – Our friends at Joplin Radio Group explain how Radio Drives Search results.  Here are more details.

2 – Franchisees are local businesses too.  They invest in local real estate and employees.  They buy supplies locally when they can.  Too often, we forget that “nationally” branded retail operations and service providers live right here in Rockford.

3 – We got proprietary research today about RADIO and local advertisers that we’ll share over the next few months.  Randy Lane, super consultant, shares his view why radio is poised to dominate over the next few years.

4 – This struck a cord with me.  When my son is 18, I’ll be 54.  We could be in the same demo when someone buys advertising, but we should never be.

5 – What do you want on your tombstone Mike?  The word AUTHENTIC.  It appears that consumers want that too.  Read more here and RADIO can help build that authenticity.

6 – Oh No!  Cable ads are dying.  Radio can solve that problem.

7 – It feels like everyone is getting Alexa into their home this season.  FM Radio is the #1 audio source with voice control.

8 – This is why curation is important -> Do you want your ad running next to propaganda from a white supremacist group?  Read more about how it was happening here.  Radio can prevent that as humans schedule and sell all of our ads.

9 – Want to move product?  Use radio.

Blog #5 – Links from around Advertising and Marketing

The holiday season is upon us.

For many small businesses, the next 4-5 weeks are make or break times.  For those in retail, we want to see a lot of transactions.  For those of us in a service business, we’re setting up our next year.  Time is going to fly and then the next thing you know, it’ll be January 8.

As with a couple other blog posts, here are some articles I found useful and interesting on the “interwebs” that I thought I’d share with you.

1 – Here’s a piece from a station group on SW Missouri that talks about how much to spend on radio next year.

2 – Here’s a great piece about the future of radio, written by a media researcher.  It talks about the “One-to-Many” of mass media radio versus “One-to-One” of Pandora.

3 – I’m fascinated by real estate.  Here’s info about emerging trends next year.

4 – Gift cards are everywhere.

5 – People wants experiences.  That’s how brick and mortar will win.

6 – If you want to target consumers that are employed, radio is your choice.

7 – 50% of consumption over the next 15 years will come from boomers.  Why so much talk about millennials?

8 – Digital marketing is the wild west.  We can help.

9 – Radio drives jewelry sales.

10 – Amazon used radio to drive sales last week.

Thanks for reading.  Reach out to me via email – or @mikepaterson72 on Twitter.