Forums » Friday Polls

Responding to "We Don't Need to Advertise!"

    • 1137 posts
    September 30, 2021 4:25 PM PDT

    My wife and I spent some time on the Oregon coast last month. In one of the towns we stayed, we had a delightful breakfast at a local restaurant. It so impressed us that we returned there the following morning. I mentioned our experience to our friend and longtime customer, Jon, who operates the radio stations in that town.  He said, "Yes, ___________ is a treasure of a breakfast place. So much so that we haven't been very successful at getting them on the radio. Their popularity and limited space keep them near capacity most of the year and they've never shown much interest in branding and community involvement."      

    As salespeople, facing a situation like this, we can go one of two ways—and I don't presume to tell you that one is right and the other wrong: 

    1. Recognizing that the chances of getting them on the air (for the purpose of increasing their business) is slim, I waste no more time on them and move on to greener pastures.

    Or 2. Bristling at the suggestion that a business has no reason to advertise on my station, I try to think of all the reasons they might have to consider advertising and work on developing a suitable strategy.

    Admittedly, #2 is likely to be a long-term project.  And even if I am successful in getting them to buy something, will they ever become a long-term client? 

    How would YOU respond to this challenge?  And if you choose to go through Door #2, what steps might you take in attempting to turn this project-prospect into a regular advertiser?

    Please share your thoughts in the Reply box below.  (I will, as well.)  Thanks!

    This post was edited by Rod Schwartz at October 1, 2021 9:52 AM PDT
    • 3 posts
    October 1, 2021 5:01 AM PDT
    Only once did I do this, but it worked. I was working in hopes of getting this client on the air. He was a very successful in the furniture business. I stopped by and got the usual...You Again! I said, me again with a new idea. Can I borrow your screw driver Gus, real name.
    Why he asked. I want to take down that 15 foot sign over your door because you tell me you don't need to advertise.
    He thought for a moment...smiled and said, bold but you got me. He signed on a six month run Len Robinson
    • 122 posts
    October 1, 2021 6:00 AM PDT

    I come across this sort of client from time to time. My batting average is low on converting these folks to clients however I don't write them off. My philosophy is to win regardless. I win when I get a new client. I win when I am known as someone who cares. You never know who this 'I don't need to advertise' owner knows and talks to. You might earn a client through that client that doesn't need you now.

    If I can get them to spend a few minutes with me, I ask them some questions. I want to learn their hot buttons and what they might be open to. To cite a couple of examples of how I have utilized non-clients: there is a very popular chain restaurant that will never spend a dime (they spend in cities with multiple locations, not towns with a stand alone). I needed a prize for the anniversary couple of the day. That restaurant gives me two dinners each day for the "Anniversary Club" sponsored by one of my clients. I have a store that is the black sheep of the chain. They haven't spent a dime on any media in the market but the owner likes connecting with the community. I had a non-profit doing a winter coat drive. I called the guy to see if he'd like to be one of the collection points. He loved the idea. No dollars there but I showed the guy I understand him, listened to him and am willing to help regardless of monetary award. My thinking is when the day comes that things change I want him to think of me first. 

    I like to tell clients who really do have all the business they can handle that they are the few passionate business owners that have built the best mousetrap. I tell them it's much easier to become #1 but much harder to remain #1 because you become the target for every hungry competitor. I tell them if the day comes I can help, I'm ready. I tell them these best thing I can do (especially the restaurant) is to keep them top of mind when decisions are made on what's for breakfast/lunch/dinner. The first to come to mind usually wins. 

    I tell every client I work for them and I represent the radio station. I tell them my goal is to work for their continued success because their success is they key to my success. 

    I have walked away from a couple. One is a place that uses billboards exclusively and says illogically (or to throw me off) that all his business comes from billboards not radio. The other is a strong proponent of spending online. The phone rings, they answer and you hear the call came via a Google search. The guys asks "Can you do that?" I told him I could make his phone ring just as much for fewer dollars but I can't prove it except through results. He responded "a guessing game, then". 

    On the flip side, I call on some new businesses that just can't do much. I'll drop off flyers to my clients that might be able to use their services when I call on them. A new tire shop has very little they can allocate to advertising now but I left a flyer with a client that runs a fleet of trucks saying if they needed a source of tires, they might be good folks to know. If I can help that small business grow, I have an account that can spend more with me.

    • 1463 posts
    October 1, 2021 11:33 AM PDT

    From Diane Scarpelli:

    I would continue to contact them with options that demonstrate we do more than radio spots - talk about dayparting a schedule to drive traffic for just breakfast, just lunch, just dinner or just specific days of the week, local high school sports, bridal show (if they cater or would be interested in doing late night feeds at receptions), a restaurant week, social media campaigns, community campaigns like shop local, a street event in their vicinity and right now the all important radio-digital recruitment (even this restaurant may experience the help shortage everyone else is). The idea is that if you get them on one thing and continue to talk with them they will eventually buy more things. Don't spend a lot of time on this, just keep them in the loop. There are always those clients who buy high school football because they have a child playing - you never know on what or why they will decide to jump in. 

    This post was edited by Rebecca Hunt at October 1, 2021 11:34 AM PDT
    • 1463 posts
    October 1, 2021 11:36 AM PDT

    From John Glavin:

    They key is to gain their confidence. So you 1.) Carefully pick apart their business. Are they only open five days a week? Do some quick math and estimate how an additional day of business would affect their bottom line and see how interested they are in expanding, especially if they are younger and aggressive, or they have staff they trust. Or if they're breakfast only, look at lunch. If their highest priced meals are not selling well, propose highlighting that item only on air. Likewise, if you have a civic-minded promotion that might fit them, present it as a great PR move for them. Getting to know them, their staff, their background, etc., ultimately will lead you to finding their soft spot or their unrealized Felt Need. Good luck! 

    • 1463 posts
    October 1, 2021 11:37 AM PDT

    From Joe Lyons:

    They say there are 2 times when you don’t advertise. When business is bad and you can’t afford it. Or when business is good and you don’t need it. In the case of the popular restaurant I would take the Grace holiday packages and think institutional. If they are that good shouldn’t they want to thank the town for their support, wish the Merry Christmas, salute our troops? OK, you’re not going to get an annual out of them, but many clients are on &off. And remember that there are businesses, like McDonalds, who know that adds that run in good time pay off in dividends when things get slack. Ask any business person who survived ‘08.

    • 1463 posts
    October 1, 2021 12:12 PM PDT

    From Mark Hill

    For those businesses that only need to advertise a "little while" or those who state "we've got all the business we can handle", they need to hear the "AWAY" story. NOBODY keeps all of their customers and NOBODY has all the business they need because of the AWAYS. There are three Aways:

    1. Move Aways - People are always moving away (and moving in too). Nothing you can do about these, they just happen, but you got to replace these Aways.Move-ins do happen, however, unless invited to your business they may never find you.

    2. Pass Aways - Unfortunately people die. And, they were someone's customer - the dentist's, the barber's, the grocery stores, a gas station, etc. Nobody's fault. Got to replace these too.

    3. and Go Aways - these people leave because of poor service, lack of product selection, and/or because the businesses competitor's (through marketing and advertising) steals them. These Away's are preventable, but nevertheless, still happen. 

    A few years ago, the National Retail Federation released a report that most businesses lose 20-30% of their customer base each year due to attrition (otherwise known as the Aways).

    Business owners that don't acknowledge and plan for this attrition will keep starting and stopping their marketing and advertising machine and lose their momentum each time. In the long run it cost them more than if they had just continued on and maintained a consistent marketing presence.

    PS - “Word of Mouth is our best advertising!” Pareto's Law known as the 80/20 Rule applies to Word of Mouth Advertising. Unfortunately, 80% of all Word of Mouth is negative. People are much more likely to talk about a negative experience than a positive one. 


    • 1137 posts
    October 2, 2021 5:46 PM PDT

    When I have an idea that I believe will do at least one of these things for a business:

    1) Increase their top-of-mind awareness,

    2) Increase their traffic,

    3) Generate valuable community goodwill towards them,

    4) Help manage community expectations about them, or

    5) Give the owner a platform for sharing a strongly-held opinion or belief,

    I find it usually worthwhile to invest the time, thought, and whatever resources are at my disposal to present and make my case. (We all do this, I know.)


    But when the business is well-known, is generating sufficient traffic to keep them their capacity 80-90% of the time, is well-regarded in the community, and has no identifiable public relations problem, I concentrate my efforts on #5. Why? Because even the most successful businessperson is willing to invest in ideas that may improve the culture or liveability of his community, or muster support for a deeply-felt need (supporting local first-responders, building a new wing at the hospital, addressing visible homelessness, etc.)

    Let me illustrate.  There's a very successful health care provider in our community. He "doesn't need to advertise" to grow his practice at this point, but he's always ready to invest in cause-related efforts. He sponsored our 9/11 remembrances (took the whole thing) and co-sponsored our Memorial Day features. Another provider in a town 30 miles away also sponsored Memorial Day because, as I learned during the presentation, his grandfather had been awarded the Medal of Honor. I'd never have learned that had I not made the effort to present the opportunity!

    It's not as time-consuming as one might assume to solicit opportunities as a farmer might sow seeds. Lately, I've used email as my initial point of contact for some of these things. A well-crafted message can easily be repurposed for relevance to many prospects without reinventing the wheel each time. A five- or ten-second message that resonates with the prospect is easily used as a tagline.

    Often business owners make known their feelings about certain issues. Maybe they fly the flag prominently at their establishment. Maybe their readerboard messages say, "Back the Blue" or "Support Our Troops." They might have plaques on the wall acknowledging contributions to nonprofits and charitable or civic organizations. Even those who are so successful as to "not need advertising," may readily contribute to a community's "Shop Local" effort or support a local high school sports team's games on your station.

    In the end, we have to decide whether the prize is worth the time and effort. Sometimes it's not. But keep an open mind and maintain awareness of non-business reasons someone might have to invest in radio messages. Not advertising, per se, but community service messages. Because most business owners really want to be known also as good citizens and good neighbors. And that's worth something.

    This post was edited by Rod Schwartz at October 2, 2021 5:49 PM PDT