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Radio and Online Advertising – Two Hearts Beat as One!

Radio Advertising and Online Advertising

Both have a lot in common… you might even say… two hearts beat as one… that’s an old song… in fact the song is trapped on vinyl in my garage… ah… but the mind never forgets!

So… about advertising…

OK… let’s get into some advertisng talk as I unravel my past history and tell about how it all started.

Radio advertising is the basis of my deep knowledge of internet marketing, online advertising and other broadcast and internet media.

I went to college and actually have a B.A. degree in Radio/TV from Cal State University Long Beach. I intended to be a writer and director for tv and the big screen but as I left college I needed money! I took a job in sales so I could pay off my college expenses and student loans. I soon came to work in radio in the Northern California area.

I learned the advertsiing business by working at 3 different radio stations over 10 years and each gig was a huge step in my personal growth and understanding of advertising and marketing.

The three stations I worked at were KLRS- FM – Hot 97.7 FM and KMEL-FM in the Bay Area.

My first radio job as as an account executive in radio advertising sales at an FM station in the “new age” genre called KLRS-FM aka “Colors” in the San Jose/Santa Cruz/Moneterey area. Back when I worked there KLRS was owned by Fuller-Jeffrey and it was a leader in the progressive new age jazz genre. While the Wave was taking over Southern California, KLRS “Colors” was doing it’s thing to Northern California.

Colors had a spectacular mix of modern new age and was not as “wimpy” as it’s “new age” counterparts. It was there I got turned on to the prog rockey jazzish new age music of of Patrick O’Hearn and Russ Freeman and the Rippingtons and Shadowfax to name a few. KLRS-FM was more cutting edge and played beyond the wimpy background music that other adult easy listening jazz stations over saturated the airwaves with.

It was at KLRS-FM that I learned all about advertising and marketing with terrific training from Fuller-Jeffrey, which introduced me to the methods of Jason Jennings whom I must say changed my life.

It is because of the training from Jason Jennings that I became more of a “marketing consultant” than most typical hard nosed sales people. In fact my business card said “Marketing Consultant” and not “Account Executive” like the other radio ad sale reps.

With training from Jason Jennings I learned to ask questions and let the clients do the talking. I became an expert listener. The cold calls with prospective clients were very interesting. You’d think that meeting new people every day would be scary but I enjoyed it. The business owners told me HOW I could sell them “spots on the radio” by answering my questions. All I had to do was listen and figure out a way to give them exactly what they wanted.

Working in advertising sales with this new approach was very refreshing considering I was previously selling consumer electronics as a “sales representative”. That was so different – As a sales rep for JBL and Harman Kardon and Samsung I was selling what I had in inventory at a specific price – not what clients necessarily wanted. As a sales rep for JBL I had a price list and inventory and either they wanted what I sold or they did not. It was not at all being a “consultant”. It was more like a clerk with an expense account. But eneough about being a sales rep in consumer electronics… back to radio advertising.

I was a “marketing consultant” with a unique approach to help my prospective clients. I was able to help them solve problems and selling advertising on the radio had tremendous power to help the clients…. Funny as it was nothing more than selling air… it wasn’t the same sales process as selling an item from a price list.

Advertising in general requires that you fill a need and the client gets a return on their investment and they feel good about it. Otherwise there are many radio stations in each market that have air for sale. So my process focused on finding out what they needed to do… or what they worried about… or what they had big plans for. I’d use the info they gave me and tailor something specific to do exactly what they desired the results to be.

That is why I was successful in selling advertising on the radio and this approach all started with my time at KLRS-FM, the new age radio station.

About a year after getting experienced in the San Jose/Santa Cruz market I had an opportunity to interview at Hot 97.7 FM in San Jose. It was a relatively new “top 40” station of around a year old, but was dominating the ratings in the market. In fact it wasn’t just number 1 with ages 12+ and 18-34 demos, but it was a true phenomenom that moved people. In fact it so moved people that they followed the station like it was a ‘rock star’!

That enthusiasm worked well for me for many years as I joined Hot 97.7 and immediately shot to the top of the ladder and kicked butt in sales. I did get part of the list of a salesperson that moved on, but I soon shattered her sales records and built on it. I had all kinds of exciting and interesting clients and business was growing.

The bulk of my success was due to the fact that I was adept at servicing night club and entertainment related clients. We did some great promotions which brought in tons of devoted listeners. They bought all kinds of stuff including stereos and concert tickets and they packed the night clubs. I learned a lot about the advertising and marketing business and was fortunate to be able to walk on both sides of the stations programming and sales sections. I worked close with record labels and such and was able to successfully deliver great cross-promotions with all kinds of clients working together. It was very exciting and fullfilling. I larned a lot!

Then one day when I least suspected it, the radio station Hot 97.7 was sold. The new owner cleaned house abrubtly and dropped the entire office and staff. Fortunately I was in a good place to move over to KMEL-FM in San Francisco and did not miss a day of work. KMEL-FM 106.1 was the number one station in the entire San Francisco Bay Area. It was a Top 40 station playing the hgits but focused more on “urban top 40” which included hip hop and soul flavors. The “urban” demographics made it slightly more difficult to sell for a newcomer to the sales staff such as myself, especially considering the expensive per spot cost. The ad spots on KMEL cost as much as any station in the market because KMEL delivered such a huge audience and ad time was almost always compeletely sold out. The only way to sell spots with no inventory was to sell the units for higher prices so you could bump the less expensive spots.

I stayed with KMEL for a year and it was a great experience. I learned a lot. But in 1994 and 1995 I started to get more internet savvy and launched my company Creative Power and my first web sites. Before long I was making more money on the internet and I soon left KMEL in 1995. It was an exciting time and I was fortunate that my background in advertising and marketing had prepared me to be in a powerful place when the new media took over the landscape in the late 90’s.

I’ll share more soon, but for now will just close saying that radio advertising and traditional media have a lot in common with online advertising. But they also have many differences. I am glad I had a background in traditional media ssales. It has helped me understand that all advertising depeneds on the success of the campaigns. If cleints don’t get results – they’re not happy!

Mike Liebner's Internet Marketing Blog

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    Comment by DAVID NAVARRO — April 28, 2009 @ 1:50 am

  4. I was one of those many who went thru Jason Jennings training too. Is he even around anymore? I found a site but didn’t look like him without that huge hair. My first station was also top 40.. the #1 station for 12+. My top client -Coca Cola. But like you – I had both agency and direct accounts. Radio taught me sales. Instead of going your route – I jumped around in the various media. I also did TV, cable, even yellow pages. AND now I guess I am following you a bit as I’m learning online media. I’m fascinated with the different approach online media takes from traditional Outbound advertising.
    Reading your post brought back some memories.

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  15. Hi Mike – I think Radio and Online Advertising have a lot of differences in terms of use and effectiveness. But they have similar goals, which is to promote your product/service and reach more buyers. I believe we all need to select the best advertising media that will suit our niche market…

    Comment by John — September 2, 2011 @ 2:57 am

  16. It’s nice to see that the things that you learned from your previous work is beneficial to you now. There is always a connection when it comes to the things we learn from different respects, in my view.

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