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How To Buy Advertising That Really Works

By Jonesboro Radio Group’s Kevin Neathery
Bullet Points From The Jonesboro Radio Group Retail Strategy Handbook:

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Secrets Most Media Reps Don’t Know And Wouldn’t Tell You If They Did!

  • The media jungle is filled with gophers and snakes.  And it’s easy to go broke buying bad advertising from these poorly trained amateurs.  Buyers beware!
  • Choose your account execs as carefully as you choose your media.  Account execs sell advertising campaigns.  Media reps sell spots, ratings, space and time.
  • Know why you should advertise!  There are just four primary retail goals:
            1. Increase daily retail traffic. 
Traffic that wears out the hinges in your door and the ringer in your phone.  In retail, tthe store with the most traffic wins.  Advertise to increase traffic!

            2. Move present inventory. 
That’s where most of your dollars are tied up.  Advertise to sell it first.  Advertise to sell it fast.  Advertise to move your present inventory!

            3. Increase cash flow. 
Cash flow is retail oxygen.  If the cash doesn’t flow, the business dies.  Advertise to keep the cash flowing!

            4. Achieve “franchise of the mind” among area consumers. 
When people come in the market for goods and services you sell, you want them to think of your store FIRST!  This “mental equity” can only be achieved through consistent advertising on intrusive broadcast media.  Advertise to build an indestructible retail image!
  • Know what to expect from your advertising!  On average, for most businesses I’ve found 10 to 30 percent relative annual growth is a reasonable expectation from effective retail advertising in a relative environment.
  • Don’t buy ad packages. Packages are designed to achieve the revenue goals of the media, not yours.  The odds of some ad package achieving your specific marketing goals are about a million to one.  Buy consistent, customized campaigns.
  • Don’t participate in “tag along” promotions where you and a string of other retailers pay good money to glorify the media.  Always insist your business be the star of any campaign you pay for.
  • Don’t worry about all the people you can’t afford to reach!  Buying ads on all the top media won’t work if you can’t afford effective frequency and 52 week consistency on each!
  • Most retailers worry way too much about “reaching the right audience” and way to little about message, effective frequency and consistency.
  • It’s better to convince 20% of the people 100% of the way to your store, than to reach 100% of the people and persuade them just 20% of the way!  And the price is the same!
  • The notion that any media rep can sell you exclusive access to a specific audience is ridiculous and has caused of more stupid advertising mistakes than any other.
  • Think of “the audience” as the crowd on the Midway at the county fair, with the media surrounding it like so many carnies.
  • Worry most about the message!  The “wrong audience” become the “right audience” when the message is persuasive and based on tested methods.
  • Beware of layman opinions about advertising from your employees, your spouse, your friends, your brother in law.   Many a successful campaign has been quashed by unfounded opinions from such advertising “experts.”
  • Be consistent!   Choose a media that targets your customers and stay with it 52 weeks per year!  If your doors are open you should be advertising!
  • “Cost Per Prospect” is the true measure of any retail ad campaign.  Don’t be fooled by media reps that try to baffle you with ratings and statistics.  When was the last time a “Gross Rating Point” walked in your store and bought anything or called to schedule an appointment?  Never.
  • In Jonesboro, Arkansas choosing the right media is the easy part.  There are only two radio groups, one T.V. station and one newspaper!  Pick the best mix for your store and stay with it 52 weeks per year.
  • Concentrate your advertising efforts in a 20-mile circle around your store.  Many retailers have gone broke trying to “reach” the whole world!  Resist the temptation.
  • Intrusive broadcast or TV should be your primary medium for market domination.  Use newspaper to support your broadcast campaign.
  • Intrusive, broadcast media works best for building “ mental equity” in the minds of area consumers.  This “top of mind awareness” or “franchise of the mind” is the pot of gold at the end of the retail rainbow.
  • Radio is best for most retailers because you can target the audience and you can achieve reach, frequency and consistency without going broke!
  • Radio is the favorite media when our hands, eyes and often our minds are occupied. We can listen and still work!
  • Radio delivers retailers the most desirable audience to local retailers: 18-54 employed adults in their prime earning years.
  • Very few retailers can afford effective frequency on network TV. There are no deals in network T.V.  Open your wallet.
  • With T.V., don’t buy anything but local newscasts.   One spot in the evening news, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year works best for local retailers.  Don’t be tempted by “bargain” packages that include    few or no evening news spots.
  • Daytime T.V. ads work best to reach the unemployed!  Stick to nightly newscasts!
  • TV works best for national advertisers with “mass appeal” products available in many stores throughout the viewing Coke or Chevy or Miracle Whip.  It’s impossible to reach a targeted demographic on TV.  You pay a huge rate to reach the whole family from Grandparents to Grandchildren.
  • TV can be effective for local retailers with multiple locations to share the cost.  Otherwise, you pay a huge rate to reach viewers outside of your market who will never travel to shop with you.
  • Cable is not a reach media like radio or network T.V.  Cable looks like T.V., feels like T.V., but it's not T.V.  It's cable. 
  • Cable T.V. is the most expensive “cheapo” advertising you can buy!
  • Cable is just like T.V. without all the viewers!  With cable, don’t think cost per thousand, think cost per dozen!
  • No retailer EVER ruled the market using cable as a replacement for a true reach medium like radio or T.V.  That’s why network T.V. is so expensive and cable is so cheap.  Buy cable to support broadcast media and newspaper, never to replace it.
  • Billboards should only be used to give directions to your retail location.  If your board doesn’t contain “EXIT NOW” it’s surely a waste of money.
  • The Yellow Pages is almost an extinct media, replaced by web based phone directories.
  • Don’t let crafty yellow page sales people trick you into buying a giant ad just because your competitor has done so.  That’s the wrong reason.  Buy a yellow page display ad if most of your business comes over the phone!  The phone book is a directory!  No one reads it for news or fun!
  • Buy only a name listing in the yellow pages if most of your business is drive up/walk in traffic.  And whatever you do, don’t let that bonehead yellow page salesperson talk you into renaming your business “AAA Aardvark Law Firm.”  Research proves such silliness is just that.
  • Unlike Yellow Pages, newspaper is still kicking, but the glory days are over.  Use newspaper to support your broadcast media and to showcase specific price/item offers or incentives.
  • Newspaper is silent, passive and works best by offering price listings to “now” shoppers.  So, give ‘em what they want!
  • For newspaper, Starch reports reveal that bigger is not better.  Unless you’ve got money to blow, don’t buy larger than 1/2 page.  Lay off color and save more.
  • When advertising in the newspaper, use all of the space you paid for.  Empty white space never sold anything to anybody.
  • Make sure your print ad includes an irresistible headline.  On average, 5 times as many people read the headline as the body copy.
  • The headline is the “ticket on the meat.”  Use it to flag down readers who are potential customers.
  • Long copy outsells short copy.  Buyers in the market will read every word of your ad.  In fact, you can’t write too much!
  • Newspaper skews old.  Most are middle aged and older and wear white collars.  If you are looking for customers 40 and younger you will find fewer in the paper than in any other media.
  • The ad strategies that work for national advertisers rarely work for local retailers. 
  • The #1 rule of copywriting: WHAT you say is ALWAYS more important than HOW you say it!
  • Always use variable copy elements and permanent copy elements in your ads to get two customers for the price of one!
  • Variable copy elements target “NOW” buyers in the market with a specific offer.
  • Permanent copy elements target future buyers by telling the retailer’s “story” and remain unchanged in future ads.
  • Permanent copy elements establish a “franchise” or “equity” position in the minds of consumers.
  • Develop a slogan or positioning statement for your store.  Make sure it really stands for something, is easy to remember and based on your #1 appeal.
  • Retailers without a positioning statement seem blurry and slippery.  Their ads pass by consumers like a ship in the night!
  • To broaden your appeal, narrow your position.  Bolt on a big handle so consumers can get a grip on your business.  Don’t tap five little nails.  Get one BIG nail and hammer the holy hell out of it!
  • Do not abandon a successful ad campaign just because you’ve grown tired of it. Research proves a great ad will work year after year.
  • Advertising is like radar, customers move in and out of the screen.  Keep it sweeping!
  • Don’t buy advertising from personal friends simply because they are friends.  Buy from the account exec that delivers you the best advertising.
  • Know the difference between account execs and media reps.  Account execs are committed to achieving the goals of local retailers.  Media reps are committed to achieving the goals of their employers.
  • Don’t buy from a media rep that brings you a contract before a commercial!
  • Beware of media reps that try to sell you the first time they walk in your store.  They can’t achieve your goals if they don’t care enough to ask what they are.
  • Don’t buy from media reps that try to sell you solely on the size of their audience.  A big audience is worthless if you don’t know how to make that audience respond.
  • Advertising is a business of words. Yet, it is infested with people who can’t write ads. Can’t spell worth a damn either.
  • Don’t buy from account execs that handle direct competitors.  Ford and Chevy don’t employ the same ad agency.  Neither should you.
  • Date before you marry!  Don’t buy more than three months advertising from an account exec you’ve never tried before.
  • Before you choose an account exec ask for his or her resume and client list.  Ask them point blank: “What successful retail campaigns have you ever developed?”
  • Search for account execs that are ethical, objective, insatiably curious and dedicated to achieving the goals of their clients first.
  • Search for account execs in control of campaigns that don’t “farm out” the creative process to a third party who never set foot in your store and never sold anything before.
  • Don’t blame your account execs for flawed advertising strategies that you dictated.
  • If you are dissatisfied with an account exec, call his or her Sales Manager and request someone new.  Ask for someone sharp with proven advertising experience.
  • Don’t buy from media reps that don’t know anything about advertising.  Duh!
  • Set high standards.  Discourage bunting.  Make it plain that you expect home runs.  And pour on the praise when they do!
  • Be truthful and candid.  Account execs are like doctors for your business.  Arm them with the facts they need to cure your ills.
  • Don’t compete with your account execs in the creative arena.  Why keep a dog and bark yourself?  Give directions, but keep your hands off the wheel.  Unless, of course, you are about to crash!
  • Don’t blame your account execs for the flaws in your Retail Marketing Mix.  The best way to improve your advertising is to improve your store.
  • Don’t haggle.  Clients who incessantly quibble over their rate are looking through the wrong end of the telescope.  Pay peanuts and you get monkeys.
  • Be generous!  Reward your account execs with annual agreements and ample budget to achieve effective frequency!
  • Identify and cultivate the best account execs in your market and you’ll gain a tremendous advantage over competitors who can’t tell the difference!

Good luck and I hope these tips will help you in planning your retail ad strategies!
Kevin Neathery
General Sales Manager
Jonesboro Radio Group
Jonesboro, Arkansas
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