It's always great to see people you worked with in your early years go on to enjoy great success in the business. Back in the old WRIF days when the station was located in a series of house trailers connected to a small house, we had a great group of young, enthusiastic salespeople. One of those energetic sellers was a guy from Ohio named Mark Biviano.
Biv was one of those sales guys who loved the station. Paul Jacobs was in the next cubicle, and these two guys came up with some pretty strong promotions and sales marketing efforts during those years when rock radio was still finding its way to credibility in the advertising community. While WRIF was always a highly rated station with great personalities, making the sales case to big agencies was an ongoing challenge. Biv was one of the good ones.
In the years since, he's carved out a sweet career in radio with a strong educational foundation. Mark's worked in key positions for stations in both Toledo and Detroit, and now is SVP for the Rubber City Radio Group in Akron. Biv has also spent more than two decades as an adjunct professor at the University of Akron, Mount Union College, Youngstown State, and Kent State.
Biv's a well-round broadcaster with a great 360° view of the radio industry. And in today's guest post, he provides great guidance for markets big and small about succeeding in the event marketing space. -FJ
Non-traditional….event….alternative revenue…..call it what you will….this is the fastest growing space for many broadcasters. If your company is not robust in pursuit of this revenue stream, untold dollars could indeed be left on the proverbial table.
In an age of shifting media sands (and dollars), coaxing organic growth in the “spot and dot” world has a very limited future. Quite simply, growth is going to have to come from alternative sources such as online auctions, events, ecommerce, rev-share deals with promoters, and other sources.
Is it a risk? Sure, but so is driving on the Lodge Freeway in Detroit. Managing the risk is key, and having the courage to venture into uncharted waters is a requirement.
Here’s the roadmap to help you succeed in this fertile space:
1. Open eyes—open minds
Opportunities for creating new revenue streams are all around us. Take off the blinders. Examine social and economic trends. What is moving consumer behavior? In an age when businesses are looking for new ways to reach their relevant markets and move the needle on their sales, possibilities for radio to step into the breach abound.
2. Does the venture make sense?
It’s simple lifestyle matching. Take a hard look at what your audience likes to do with their time and money. Never ask your listeners to engage in an activity/event that they wouldn’t already be so inclined to do. For example, Rockers like beer and music and cars and outdoor activities and fixing their homes. Anybody see money opportunities here?
If a hunting and fishing expo fits the lifestyle of my audience, then let’s find the right venue, time the event to avoid conflicts and maximize attendance, and get a team together to “vet” the event and visualize what could go wrong. It’s always easier to anticipate trouble than to get out of it. And you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. If the venture worked in Tulsa, it’ll probably work in Toledo as well.
Yes, it takes resources to create and execute an event, but it doesn’t have to cost and arm and a leg. In fact, controlling costs is a key to making these initiatives profitable. Here’s where leveraging relationships, keeping an open mindset to “trading” goods and services, and good old creative thinking come into play. One might indeed be surprised at how many businesses, government entities, etc. are more than willing to work with you to produce a spectacular event.
5. Have courage/fail fast
Just as one cannot really learn how to swim by merely watching a YouTube video, you’ve got to have the courage to take the plunge into the icy waters. If your team has anticipated all the eventualities, your execution plan makes sense, and the proper resources are allocated, then it’s time to pull the trigger.
Not every event will be a home run. Some will be singles that with some tweaking can become doubles next go-round. Some will surpass your expectations (I’ve had that pleasant outcome a number of times). Some events/initiatives will be turkeys. Period. (Some great stories here, too).
Learn from your mistakes and move on. After all…..we’re not performing brain surgery nor saving lives here.
The possible results? Highly profitable events. New revenue doors opened. Little to no impact on sales inventory. Great potential marketing solutions for businesses. Outstanding opportunities to leverage outside promotion for the station and its personalities. And revenue growth in a little-to-no-growth era.
Borrowing from the comic strip Pogo, the best advice I can offer: ”Find a good parade and get out in front of it.”
I love a parade.
Reach out to Mark Biviano here.
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