The Reality of Radio Ratings

The Reality of Radio Ratings

As I was writing last weeks article about a common sense approach to radio advertising schedules, I mentioned radio and television rating services.  Namely Nielsen and Eastlan.

The original purpose of rating services where to assist the radio and tv program managers.  They wanted to know how many people tuned it and for how long.

When I worked on the air, and was a radio program director, we would do our best to program our station not just listeners, but also for the small handful of people who filled out the surveys provided by the rating services that was used to give us our ratings.

We tried to hack the system.  Often a radio station will give away their biggest prizes on Thursdays.  That’s because Thursdays are when a week begins for those diary keepers.

So while the ratings where supposed to help guide the programming people make decisions as to what to put on the air, they eventually became a tool of the sales department.  And then things got really nuts.

Formulas were developed that could determine how to reach the maximum number of people of a particular demographic with your advertising message.  Another formula was developed that shows the Cost Per Point and Gross Rating Points and a bunch of other stuff that might make sense to an advertising agency media buyer but it is missing a very important reality.

That reality is that all that data that ratings companies gather are time sensitive.  They are not a guarantee of who is going to hear your ad next week, or even today.  Nor yesterday, or last week.  They are a historical document.  Period.

I don’t care if you are in a city the size of New York that uses electronic devices that you wear that record what radio station is playing in your vicinity, (People Meters), or a dairy that you are asked to fill out manually to record what station you listened to every 15 minutes for a week.  Or even a phone call asking you what station you are listening to this very moment.  This is all the same data, just using different methods to gather, but it is history, not current.

I’m in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Our market is surveyed twice a year, in the spring and fall for 13 weeks by the two major radio rating services.  After the data is collected, it takes at least 4 weeks before it is released and then depending on who you are and how much money you are willing to pay, you get access to this data and can dig in to see who listened, when they listened, and how long they listened.  It’s not as in depth as the NSA data gathering, as we don’t know the names and addresses of our listeners, but we know how many there are and the software allows us to build a picture of who listens to each station, all based on those surveys twice a year.

The limitations of radio ratings is buried in the fine print and disclaimers, like the “terms of service” we never read.

But here’s the reality regarding those limitations.  Things change.  This year in Fort Wayne, nearly half of the radio stations either changed names, changed ownership, changed formats, disappeared or started up this year, in the past 8 months.  And the rating information we have to work with does not include data on all of those changes.

So is it all bogus?

No, but you have to understand what conclusions you can really make if someone talks about ratings.

Any radio station that changed around March 27th or after this year doesn’t have accurate data.  That was the start of the Spring Rating Survey.  That includes FM Stations at  96.3; 96.9; 102.9; 103.3; 103.9; 106.3 and AM Stations 1250 & 1450.

Because these stations (in their current format) have not been included in the Spring 2014 ratings survey due to one of  changes mentioned above, we simply don’t know anything based on the ratings about their audiences.  It will be the end of January 2015 before there is any rating info available.

Some of the stations that did not change are impacted by these stations that changed,  but we won’t know until January 2015.

Here’s what we do know and what I present when asked about who listens to WOWO radio and other stations:

WOWO has a steady history of having the largest audience in Fort Wayne and 95% of those that listen are adults 21 and older.  We have the data provided to us by the independent rating service to back that up.  I can also provide you with information on any other station in Fort Wayne that was on the air this past spring (2014).

As the disclaimers in the financial world state: Past performance is not an indication of future results.  In other words, no one can tell you how many listeners are listening to any radio station at this very moment.

Now if you want to know about the fallacies of Cost Per Point and Gross Rating Points as a standard measurement for deciding what to buy on the radio, hit me up sometime, but it has about as much impact on real life as Fantasy Football.

 

As always, you can reach me at Scott@WOWO.com or 260-255-4357.

 

 

Not So Easy

Not So Easy

If fast food employees can ask for the upsell, so should sales professionals.

“Do you want fries with that?”

From RAB.com:

 

Closing too quickly 
Sales consultant Mark Hunter 
It’s always rewarding to close a sale and immediately have the new client sign the documents to secure the sale. No matter how many years in the business, this always feels good. We all have stories about new customers who have “fallen into our lap” and bought quickly. For some reason, we can’t seem to forget the great rush that occurs from these new clients. I’m here to say that as good as the rush might be when we allow a sale to occur too quickly, we wind up leaving money on the table.

When beginning to talk with a new customer, the salesperson and the customer invariably have the intent of doing so with a specific product in mind. It may be any number of products you sell. The initial interest expressed by the customer always guides the discussion. Once the discussion turns to a specific product, the customer’s focus becomes even more closed to any other products. The real danger comes when the customer agrees to buy. At that moment, the customer feels the process is over, and their mind moves to something else, usually something totally unrelated to your business or products.

To avoid a situation like this, the salesperson needs to ask the necessary exploratory questions early to determine the customer’s other needs. By asking exploratory questions early, you are able to assess which additional products may interest the customer. If you wait to ask these types of questions until after the initial sale is complete, you will always be behind. This is the whole principle of not closing too quickly. You need and want enough time to explore and determine all of the customer’s needs.

Wonderment

Wonderment

Sometimes we get caught up in the stuff we have to do.

Sometimes we get caught up in the things we need to do.

Sometimes we get caught up in the stuff we want to do.

Sometimes we are simply caught up in things and stuff that in 5 years won’t matter.

Sometimes we are simply caught up doing things that will matter for the rest of our lives.

While it is important to keep all of this in perspective, (and sometimes we are in the thick of it all and don’t know the difference), there is another element I want to reintroduce to your life.

The sense of Wonderment.

As little kids exploring the world for the first time, we are filled with this wonderment of the things around us.  But we are too young to recognize this state of wonderment we are in.

And pretty soon we take things for granted.

As you venture out or stay in, take some time for reflection.

It doesn’t have to be self-centered.  Actually it might be better if you focus on something other than yourself.

Here in Indiana, where I live we have a few hundred thousand people.  In my daily travels through the city, I also pass some rural areas where the corn is really high right now.

Yet even if I simply stay home and look at the front yard, or backyard, I can see all kinds of things that a 2 or 3 year old would look at with wonderment.

Relive and reconnect with your sense of wonderment and that will help you keep perspective with all of that stuff and things we started talking about at the beginning of this article.

Do You Know the Difference?

Do You Know the Difference?

… and act accordingly to this wisdom from Seth Godin?

Totally and completely out of my control

Gravity, for example.

I can’t do a thing about gravity. Even if I wanted to move to Jupiter or the moon for a change in gravity, it’s inconceivable that I could.

On the other hand, there are lots of things I can do to control my reaction to gravity. I can take Alexander classes or get in better shape. I can avoid situations where gravity makes me uncomfortable (the trapeze, for example). I can choose to not whine about gravity and its effects.

There are countless forces in our lives that are out of our control. That doesn’t mean we can’t do anything about how they influence our work and our life…

Use Common Sense with Radio Advertising Schedules

Use Common Sense with Radio Advertising Schedules

Continuing my series on radio advertising today by injecting a bit of common sense into the whole idea of radio advertising scheduling.

In a nutshell, the common sense approach to radio advertising scheduling is to pick as large a segment of the stations audience as you can afford to reach with your message with enough frequency to leave an impression that creates either top of mind awareness or drives them to action. 

I may annoy a few media buyers who work for ad agencies with this article, but maybe they’ll learn something too.

Radio and Television stations in medium (like Fort Wayne, Indiana) and large markets have rating services that supposedly tell us who listens.  Arbitron was the trusted name in Radio and Nielsen was the trusted name for TV Ratings until recently.

Nielsen bought Arbitron and now there is another radio rating service called Eastlan that is becoming the new standard.

An advertising agency media buyer will often try and work the numbers with the specialized software programs that tell them that if they buy 2 commercials a week in morning drive, 4 a week in mid-days and 7 a week in afternoons, toss in a few in the evening and weekends and you’ll reach x number of people 3 times a week and your advertising schedule is going to bring in tons of new customers.

Sorry but sometimes relying on this data is idiotic.

Now I have access to the same software and data that the media buyers have, and I can play their game of finding the perfect combination of ads  per week like they do, but often you have to suspend common sense.

What is this common sense that I keep talking about regarding radio advertising schedules?

It’s the stuff you can figure out on your own.  It’s that common.  And it makes sense.

I’ll walk you through this and use my own radio station as an example.  The station we are going to use is WOWO radio. We are a news and talk radio station.  WOWO has been on the air for nearly 90 years, starting on AM and a couple years ago we added an FM signal. You can listen to WOWO on 1190AM or 92.3 FM.

As a news and talk radio station we have different programs that are 3 or 4 hours long.  Our line up, starting the day with Fort Wayne’s Morning News with Charly Butcher from 5am to 9am followed by the national talk show Glenn Beck from 9am until noon.  Next is another national talk show host, Rush Limbaugh from noon to 3pm.  At 3pm we are live and local again with the Pat Miller Program until 6pm.  Then from 6pm to 5am, we have more national talk shows.  That is our weekday line up.  Weekends are filled with a mix of local and national programs.

We also carry Notre Dame Football, The NFL Indianapolis Colts and our local Fort Wayne Komet Hockey play by play.  Plus we air a few special event sports broadcasts including the Indianapolis 500 in May and the Brickyard 400 NASCAR race in August.

As a news, talk and sport radio station, we attract an active listening audience.  This is not background music or escape music.  This is not a music station.  When our audience listens, they are paying attention.  This is brain food for them, the main course, not some light and fluffy dessert.

Let’s take a look at our habits.  Most of us work 5 days a week and follow a routine.  We get up about the same time each morning, tune in to find out what’s going on and what the weather is going to be like.  We head to the office or where ever we work and then in the afternoon head home.  Each persons routine is customize to each person, depending on where you work, kids, and all those other things that fill up our lives.

However, take a look at your life and your personal daily routine and you’ll likely see a pattern.  And these patterns are part of the common sense that I use to help you build a radio advertising schedule that works for your business.

I mentioned that our radio station has 3 and 4 hour shows.  These talk shows are similar to TV shows in that TV viewers have their favorite shows that they watch every week.  My wife and I watch The Good Wife and NCIS every week when there is a new episode. Our radio shows have regular listeners who listen because those shows are their favorites too, and they will listen as much as possible to those shows as possible on a regular basis.

When you combine daily life routines with favorite radio programs you build an audience of regular listeners who are dedicated, loyal and could become your customers if you invite them to do business with you.

You invite them to do business with you by airing radio ads (commercials) at a time when they are listening.  Nearly every radio station has listeners 24/7.  Not the same listener, that’s silly.  Some stations have more listeners than others and this information can be determined by the previously mentioned ratings services.

It just so happens that my radio station, WOWO has more total listeners than any other Fort Wayne radio station.  We also have more listeners at any given time than most Fort Wayne radio station.  Trust me on this, I have the data to back it up and one day, I’ll dig deeper into this aspect of radio advertising.

Because we have been around forever, we have the largest audience and 95% of our listeners are adults, there is a high demand for advertising on WOWO.  If your business wanted to be on the radio as much as possible, it would cost you a pretty penny.  Just once an hour between 6am and 6pm, 5 days a week could run you $6000 per week.

Depending on your business that is either a great deal or way over your head.  The key is what type of response you need to earn a profit on that money and can you even afford to do that type of schedule week after week?

Here’s how I (and you) can apply common sense and create a radio advertising schedule that is both affordable and works:

Pick a segment of our audience. Let’s start with scheduling your advertising to reach a portion of who you could reach. Instead of 12 hours, 5 days a week, let’s focus on 3 hours.  For example, focus on the Pat Miller Program between 3pm and 6pm, Monday through Friday.  You will be inviting less people than if you ran your ads 12 hours every day, but the key is to build your reputation with the listeners between 3pm and 6pm.    We can do the same with any of our programs, but, don’t jump around and try spread yourself too thin by scattering your ads all over the place with not enough frequency.

Frequency really refers to the number of times an individual hears about you.  This is different from the number of commercials you air.  If your ad plays 10 times a week in the Pat Miller Program, I may hear it 4 times or 9 times. But rarely will I hear it all 10 times.  The same is true with most radio listeners.

Again, In a nutshell, the common sense approach to radio advertising scheduling is to pick as large a segment of the stations audience as you can afford to reach with your message with enough frequency to leave an impression that creates either top of mind awareness or drives them to action. 

 

Contact me at Scott@WOWO.com or 260-255-4357 and we can discuss how to make this work for you and your business.

Asking the Most Important Question

Asking the Most Important Question

Earlier this month I was part of a training exercise for our company that was designed by our sales consultancy.  2 days filled with role playing and other exercises to stretch us to better serve our clients.

The 27 of us were divided into 3 competing teams.  Over the two days I had a love/hate relationship with our trainer.

When it was all over, I wasn’t sure what I learned.  I mean after being in the marketing and advertising since I was 26, let’s say 2 decades due to time away pursuing other career interests, there isn’t much I haven’t learned, heard, or taught.

Most of this training is a refresher.  A reminder.  Perhaps a new structure of organization of the same basic principles, but rarely something brand new.  But the following week, I realized the benefit I got from those couple of days and started putting those lessons back into daily practice.

So what is the Most Important Question that you and I need to ask?

It could be asking them about money and budgets.  It could be about who makes the decisions. These were a couple that we discovered during the exercise.

But the most important question is one that you should ask every time.  You should ask it after you have asked many of the other must ask questions:

What else should I know that we haven’t talked about yet?

You can adapt this to any selling Q & A, with one condition.  Make sure you keep it open ended.  You don’t want a yes or no answer.  You want to discover what is really important and this question can open that door.

Don’t Become Too Busy

Don’t Become Too Busy

August 15th.

 

A day that I remember due to a conversation with my Mom about 15 years ago.

 

August 15th was her birthday and it was the birthday of a cousin of mine, Steve Howard.

Steve died in a freak traffic accident in his college years.  Every year my Mom would send a note to my Aunt and Uncle who lost their son.  It was a note of remembrance of a life that was cut short.

 

Both of my parents have passed away and as I think back to the person I was when my Dad was the age I am now, it’s a little fuzzy.  We were busy with two kids, soon to be three, and lived out of town from both sets of parents.

Yet they took time from their lives to visit for birthdays and holidays.  And we do the same.  Sometimes we are the hosts, other times, we hop in the car for a road trip.

Like this picture from last weekend, having a conversation with two of my “littles”… Grandkids as we get ready for a cookout and birthday party.

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I know your lives are busy too.  Just don’t become too busy to live for the important.

The Perfect OnLine Strategy

The Perfect OnLine Strategy

Is the one that works for you.

Before you can declare your efforts a success or failure, you need to know what you want to measure and why.

What I do for myself is different from what I was doing when I worked for a multi-million dollar internet retailer.

When I worked for them, I saw that they had lazy and inappropriate goals for their social media efforts.

So in 3 weeks in April 2013, I met the goal they set for the rest of the year and then started doing work that really mattered.

 

My own work, for myself is what you are reading right now.  I don’t have a goal of hundreds or thousands of readers, followers, friends, likes or whatever.

Yes, I have those, but that is as a result of my efforts over time, not because a big following was my goal.

For nearly every unbreakable rule, I can find someone who is breaking it and still is happy with their success.

The first step in doing anything is knowing your “why”.  Then do it.