When Is A Brief Message TOO Brief?
A question came in the mailbag the other day…okay, the cyber-mailbox. But it was one I’ve seen before, so I thought I would go ahead and answer it here in this month’s column.
“My company would like to advertise on radio, but we can’t afford :60 second or :30 second ads on any of the stations. Am I better off buying :10 or :15 second sponsorship announcements just to get our name out there?”
Are brief announcements a good way to dip your pinky toe in the shallow end of the pool, so to speak? I would absolutely advise against it, unless you are certain your business can overcome three variables.
Variable #1: Time Horizon
All branding should be treated as a marathon rather than a sprint. So the question becomes do you have the staying power to run the race? If you can’t meet this variable, I’d strongly suggest that you don’t venture into mass media at all. When clients ask, “How long should I advertise?” I’ll often say, “How long do you intend to be in business?” We never ever advise that a client advertise on a radio station unless they intend to stay on that station until the end of time.
It’s almost like a stock portfolio; you’re building a foundation and you’re going to continue to add to that portfolio. These :10 or :15 ads can be a great way to get your name out there with consistency, especially when you find out what the station can offer in the way of adjacencies. For instance, if you’re a roofer or an HVAC contractor, you can tie your message into the weather report. But if you’re just going to try this as an experiment for 13 weeks to see if it makes the phone ring, you should just go ahead and send that money to Austin, Texas care of The Brand Guys. It’s better spent that way.
Variable #2: Geography
Ask for a signal map of the radio station and compare it to your service area. Even better, put your service area on a transparency and lay it over top of the signal map of the station that’s courting you. If there’s a whole lot of “dead area”, where the station’s signal goes but you don’t, you’re throwing money at a signal that doesn’t serve you well.
Variable #3: Profitability
If your company isn’t profitable enough, it may explain why you haven’t yet invested in mass media. Examine your marketing budget and the Key Performance Indicators inside your marketing budget. Then analyze whether the KPI’s stay in balance with the rest of your business’s ecosystem. If there are broken parts of your company such as your closing rate or holding your equipment margins, no amount of advertising will fix a company that is fundamentally broken. In fact, as I’ve learned through the years, advertising will only accelerate what was going to happen anyway, submerging your company into even deeper turmoil.
All that said, if your company can clear the hurdles of committing to a long time horizon, gauging if the station’s signal and your service area jive geographically, and that you have the profitability to make the math work in your favor, go for it. Any branding you can get out there, however brief, may just give you that name recognition you need to gain a competitive edge.
Thanks for the great questions. If there is something I can clarify for you, feel free to contact me. I’m here to help.
Until next time,