Guest Column: The 3 Degrees-Off-Center Theory of Promotions by Paige Nienaber

My thanks to promo genius (my words, not his) Paige Nienaber for offering to write a column for my oft-neglected blog. Paige is the absolute BEST at radio marketing and promotions. And, he can be yours for a modest fee, through Clifton Radio’s C.P.R. (radio’s first-ever promotional consultancy). You can reach him at 651-433-4554 or via e-mail at nwcpromo@earthlink.net.

You have to feel a little sorry for teachers, standing up there, day after day, in front of a room of lethargic, somnambulistic kids, fighting the temptation to just nod off and go to the Bahamas for 50 minutes. I knew when Mr. Uhr was drilling us on Trig, that no way, no how, I would ever need it. I felt the same way when Mrs. Radzek was espousing the wonders of Marshall Mcluhan and his theory of the “Medium IS The Message”.

I didn’t get it. I didn’t care to get it. And instead I focused my energies on trying to see between the buttons on Kerry Brown’s top. (They “bunched” a little when she leaned over. I was very immature. Still am)

And then, in a story I have recounted innumerous times, I had an awakening. An epiphany. Mrs. Radzek was right.

I was driving from Birmingham to Huntsville a few years ago. Literally a blur of outdoor for 100 miles. An outblur. And I soon became desensitized to the onslaught of advertising and went off to the Bahamas. With Kerry Brown.

Up ahead was a board and what drew my attention to it was that there was a large bird on it. As I closed in my focus was riveted on it. “That’s one muther of a bird” I thought, as I sped up to 90 and clicked the door locks. (It was THAT big). As I buzzed past, sweating, anticipating it would de-perch and go in search of a meal, say a consultant in an Avis sub-compact, I saw that it was in fact, an eight foot high plastic owl that the client had put on his board to get the attention of drivers.

Some guy who runs a mini-storage complex in Alabama “gets” Promotions more then we do.

Promotions is the Art of getting people to notice you. That’s it. It’s that simple.

Your audience gets hit with 2500 advertising messages a day. And maybe three or four sneak under the radar like an errant scud and impact on the gray matter of the intended audience. (I wax metaphorical in airport lounges)

What do these few hits have in common? Someone took the time and applied a modicum of creativity with the way the message was delivered. That’s all.

With so many radio stations doing the same thing over and over, how do you stand out? How to you get noticed? How do you apply the Art of Promotion?

By taking the message OR the medium and turning it 3 degrees off-center. That’s it. Just a mild adjustment that will make this be the message, the bit, the contest that people will remember.

Perfect example is purses. Every station and their mother has done purses. And usually it’s as exciting as taking a caller and telling them they won a purse. Wow. Gotta pause while the goosebumps go down. At Magic in Colorado Springs, during the height of the Paris Is Going To Jail Saga, we gave away her purses. She’d cleaned out her storage unit to help pay for her defense fund. So you won not just the purse, but what she’d neglected to clean out of it. Pills. Underwear. A cellphone with dirty pictures on it.

Shoes. Officially nearing Radio Cliché-dom. At one station we paired the shoes with a purse and turned the station into a Sugar Daddy. Threw in some occasional rent money. Paid a student loan off once-in-awhile. Go. Test “Sugar Daddy” on the women at your station. OFF THE CHART.

Gas. Ain’t nothing bigger. Please GOD don’t emasculate this and do gas cards. White CASTLE has giftcards. If every station is doing gas, what is the 3 degree twist you can apply? In Birmingham at 95.7 Jamz, we have an intern with a length of rubber hose and he’s siphoning it out of cars in parking garages. It’s like Beat The Bomb. The station takes a caller. They call “Rodney” who is lurking out there somewhere, he pries the gas cap off a car, you hear a sucking sound, a coughing and the noise of gas filling up cans. You stick with it as long as you feel lucky. Sometimes “mall security” interrupts, Rodney flees and you lose everything. (The imaging I’ve written has Rodney slowly going blind and losing the sensation of taste.)

Granted, gas cards for the designated caller are HUGE, but, we’re in show business. We have a Creative Obligation.

Bill Paying. Great prize. I mean, c’mon. Having some debts wiped out? But, again, tragically, at many stations it’s as simple as “Hi Debby, this is Bob at Mix 100 and we’re paying off your credit card.”

Radio is not minimalism. Radio is maximalism.

A couple of the stations I consult have Rodney’s cousin, who pulled a stretch at juvie for hacking into his schools computer, breaking into the mainframe at Mastercard and Visa and deleting debt. You go item by item, choosing what’s the next thing you want erased from your record. That $300 at Soyuko’s Traditional Thai Massage out on Route J? Let’s lose that ASAP. Same concept as the gas: you get zonked occasionally when the connection is shut down or broken.

ID theft is a big buzz topic right now. What if you had your hacker transfer debt over onto someone else?

It’s a twist. Some spin. Some actual fun (damn it) that make it stand out. Or you can be content with the morass of “Family Four Pack”, “Win It Before You Can Buy It”, “Summer Survival Kit”, “Dinner On The Mayflower”, “Win A Key That Could Start A Car” spewing rabble.

Me. Scott. Mrs. Radzek. Kerry Brown. We all hope you make the wise and out-standing (or standing out) choice.

Editor’s note: Thanks, Paige! You’re the best!

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