There are no real secrets here – just solid principles – that I shared with a colleague when his email popped into my inbox.
So…last year I had [client] on [big honkin’ country music station] for about 4 months…they got great response…they were on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
This year…they want to spend the same amount of money…maybe less…but be on different days and less times for frequency.
What is a smart and valid answer to the following email that I can give them about frequency:
“I think that 35 ads per week is overkill, there should be residual name recognition in the market from all that we did last year. I believe that people will be thinking about looking for an apartment on Wed, Thurs and Friday. With 6 adds per day that comes to 18 spots per week and should be about 400/ wk, much more palatable for us.
I do not want to commit for 3 solid months, I prefer 1 month then 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off through the season (sept.).”
Here’s my reply:
“You don’t have residual value. Unfortunately, people have this dadgum habit of remembering what they want to remember and feel is important. If they didn’t have a need last year, you weren’t important.
“My partner Roy likes to say that people don’t stay reached any more than a lawn stays mowed. Sleep is a great eraser of the noise of the day. Again, if someone didn’t have a need last year, your ads – no matter how good they were – were noise.
“Assuming an ad of average impact/quality, and assuming your competitors are largely absent from radio, you may assume you’re working toward top of mind awareness by running somewhere between 18-21 ads/week between 6a and 7p. Early week. Late week. It makes little difference. That general number of ads each week, every week will give you the approximate frequency to reach the most number of people on a station 3.0 times per week – the number necessary to generate and keep top of mind awareness.
“If you can’t afford to do it on [Big Honkin’ Station], do it on a smaller station. Frequency matters more than reach. Reaching 100% of the listening area with only enough frequency to convince them 10% of the way costs exactly the same as reaching 10% of the listening area but convincing them 100% of the way. Understand? They cost exactly the same, but only one makes cash flow.
“If you really, really want [Big Honkin’ Country Music Station] but can’t afford the 18-21 per week, buy only select dayparts. Again, your reach will suffer, but you’ll at least be able to afford the necessary frequency. The station can run reach and frequency analysis for you.
“And then budget to continue this plan for only as long as you wish to be in business.
“Otherwise, as Morris Hite said, underspending in advertising is like buying a plane ticket halfway to Europe.”
That’s what I shared with my colleague, and with his permission, I’m sharing it with you. What do you think?
UPDATE: My friend Rick Harrington pointed out: “Something that I’ve found in news/talk is that building frequency is a different animal than with a music station because there’s significant audience turnover as programming changes.”
Absolutely true. News/talk is a different animal and we buy it much more like television – shows vs. stations, although there’s a little more to it than that, and you’ll often find people listen longer, and you’ll need fewer ads to reach the same frequency. The station in question above was a music station.