Since the advent of audience ratings, stations have been voraciously eager to find diarykeepers, and in recent years, meter holders. Zip code information is a helpful tool, providing information about where respondents are geographically located – whether they’re your fans or those your competitor.
But once you have that information, what do you do with it? Inventive stations schedule events inside these zip codes or target marketing to these designated areas, whether it’s billboards, direct mail, or telemarketing. Those tactics can be effective, but they also play the odds that the combination of the right consumers and your station presence will connect at just the right time to influence listening behavior. This kind of street level activity isn’t always perfect, but at least it attempts to create gross impressions for stations in the right places.
Apart from radio, many big consumer brands are approaching their ground marketing efforts a little differently. While their end goals may not be the same as a typical radio station’s desire to impact ratings, the idea is to impact consumers where they live – and in an environment that’s positive.
And that’s local schools.
One of the residual benefits of this marketing activity is the added bonus of not just connecting with adults, but with the next generation of consumers.
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For radio, this is an essential marketing outcome. While it’s wonderful to have an impact on the Spring Book, the bigger win is to make positive branding impressions on grown-ups and their kids.
And what better way to accomplish this than marketing in schools? When you think about the ultimate hyper-local targeting, it doesn’t get more focused than neighborhood schools or even entire school districts.
It turns out that many brands – big ones – are already doing this. In a recent SmartBrief article by Brian Siatkowski, a managing partner at Tebo & Associates, Sprint, Pizza Hut, and SeaWorld are investing significant marketing dollars in schools. His company is one of many around the country that set up these programs that can include web ads on school district pages, advertising at school events and sports, and even naming rights.
At a time when most schools are cash-strapped, eliminating programs that include the arts, an infusion of marketing capital from outside advertisers can be a lifesaver. And for a radio station, the benefits are obvious. Aside from the geographic efficiency and dual generational reach, school marketing also exposes radio to consumers that might not even know it exists.
Auto industry consultant John Ellis has made it a point to remind broadcasters in industry presentations that radio’s problem may have less to do with dashboard presence, and may be more about a lack of presence and demand outside the car. If elementary school kids aren’t listening to the radio at a young age, they will be less likely to tune in when they get their drivers licenses. Reaching them at the school level could be effective for an industry that has essentially stopped outside marketing.
The beauty of school marketing is that its potential is in markets the size of New York and L.A., and in places as small as Nome and Lancaster.
And then there’s part of the equation that even big brands can’t pull off – presence at schools as guest speakers and emcees. As part of a larger marketing program, local radio could work out partnerships with schools that could include in-person presence, as well as station tours, participation in career days, event discounts, and other perks they couldn’t arrange on their own.
Radio is operating in challenging times. Generating revenue is getting harder, while maintaining in-market visibility has never been more important. Beyond chasing diaries and meters, there’s a lot to be said for strategic “academic marketing.” (Of course, there’s always that tactic of playing the station nice and loud over the PA system.)
It’s time for radio to go back to school.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,000 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.