The Second Function of Advertising

Think you know what it is?

Radio has always done an abysmal job of advertising itself. We can’t blame this on consolidation, though it has made budgets ever-tighter year after year.

Advertising serves two purposes for any product.

It should increase sales. That assumes a product people actually want or the ability to create a need where most consumers haven’t seen one before.

Teeth-whitening, for instance. Advertising has made most people hyper-conscious of less than perfectly white teeth.

The second purpose of advertising, the one every radio group should embrace, is to build local equity so that when market spending is down, your station gets a bit more than its fair share because local businesses remember that you have helped them achieve their sales goals over a long period of time.

It’s like revenue insurance.

It’s why Apple continues to spend hundreds of millions of marketing dollars every year even though they haven’t created any new products since before Steve Jobs died.

Advertising keeps us thinking of all things Apple so that when a “new” iPhone is released, people still line up overnight to buy it, even though it’s not that different from the iPhone we bought last year.

I understand that most radio stations don’t have the vaguest clue how to sell themselves through advertising, but this near total absence of outside marketing for two decades or more is one of the reasons Radio can’t grow it’s share of advertising revenue.

It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul.

It feels like an expense item you can easily cut, but the long-term implications of ignoring the need to remind your local clients that you help them succeed is like patting yourself on the back for not replacing the roof on your home for 50 years.

Once it really starts pouring rain, you’ll pay — and it will be a lot more expensive than it might have been if you’d invested in your property continuously.