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The Truth About Marketing and Advertising for Small Businesses

Castor Oil

Advertising and Marketing your business is very similar to taking bad tasting medicine. It is not pleasant but its necessary and the results are worth it.

If there is anything more misunderstood or detested than purchasing advertising, I’m not sure what it might be. So many choices. variables, and mediums. Each one claiming to be #1 some how, some where, some way. Impressions, frequency, reach, demographics, influencers, socio-graphics and ratings… what in the world does it all mean? And what, if any, is important?

Good Questions! Let’s break through some of the clutter and find out what is real.

Marketing is Eternal!

A few years ago, the National Retail Federation released a report that showed most businesses lose 20-30% of their customer base each year due to attrition (We have come to call this phenomenon “The Aways”).

Business owners who don’t acknowledge and plan for this attrition will find their customer base (and revenues) eroding from year to year. Many small business owners will start and stop their marketing and advertising machine and lose momentum each time. In the long run it cost them more than if they had just continued on and maintained a consistent marketing presence. Consistency is paramount in defending against the Aways. Additionally, for those businesses who believe they only need to advertise a “little while” or those who state “we’ve got all the business we can handle”, they need to become acquainted with the “AWAY” story. NOBODY keeps all of their customers and NOBODY has all the business they need because AWAYS are happening daily and they don’t even know it..

There are three Aways:

1. Move Aways – People are always moving away (and moving in too). Nothing you can do about these, they just happen, but you got to replace these Aways.

2. Pass Aways – Unfortunately people die. And, they were someone’s customer – the dentist’s, the barber’s, the grocery stores, a gas station, etc. Nobody’s fault. Got to replace these too.

3. Go Aways – these people leave because of poor service, lack of product selection, and/or because the businesses competitor’s (through marketing and advertising) steals them. These Away’s are preventable, but never the less, still happen.

Reach or Frequency? Can a small business afford both?

Portions are from an excerpt from The Monday Morning Memo, 3/19/2012

By Roy Williams, the Wizard of Ads

A simple test.

As a business owner would you rather tell your story once to 100,000 people or 100 times to 1,000 people? This illustrates the difference between Reach and Frequency.

According to Roy Williams.“The average message must be heard by the same listener at least 3 times within 7 night’s sleep to give that message any chance of being remembered.” (3.0 Frequency)

Advertising results in radio are based on three things:

(1.) Relevance. Does the customer care? And if so, how much?
(2.) Credibility. Does the customer believe the claims made by the advertiser?
(3.) Frequency. (Repetition.) How often is the customer exposed to this message?

Relevance without credibility is the definition of hype.

Credibility without relevance is the answer to a question no one was asking.

The less sleep between repetitions, the better. Sleep erases advertising. When the relevance and credibility of two messages are equal, depth of memory goes to the one given the highest repetition within the fewest nights sleep.

Generally speaking, the shorter the purchase cycle, the sooner the messages will start working. The longer the purchase cycle, the longer it will take for the campaign to gain traction.

High-impact messages for products with short purchase cycles work less and less well the longer you air them. Memorable messages for products with long purchase cycles work better and better the longer you air them.

The same consumer needs to be notice a message roughly 3 times a week, 52 weeks a year for that advertiser to become a household word.

The technical term used by cognitive neuroscientists for this process of creating involuntary, automatic recall is to move the message from immediate, electrical “working memory” to mid-term “declarative memory” and then finally on to long-term, chemical, involuntary “procedural memory.” This takes time and repetition but it’s most easily accomplished using sound. Radio and television work best.” (Roy Williams, Monday Morning Memo 3/19/12)

Dave Ramsey, in his best selling book EntreLeadership states, “It takes 27 times for an ad to be heard (seen or read) for it to be notice for the very first time.”

An average adult will be exposed to over 5,000 or more marketing impressions per day: Television, Radio, newspaper, Internet, Social Media, direct mail, billboards, vehicle graphics, magazines, newspapers, bus benches, specialty advertising, texting, e-mail… EVERYDAY! To break through the clutter the message has to be creative and must impact the consumer over and over and over again.

Warning: So why do some advertising mediums seem to work and others don’t? Many businesses use the Shotgun Approach. This is where they spread their advertising out on too many mediums which will weaken frequency and consistency, and prohibit them from being able to build top of mind awareness with a group of consumers. The Shotgun Approach never has and never will work.

Ratings. Statistical Chaos.

A rating walks into a bar and… you’ve heard this joke before, right? Many TV and Radio salespeople will talk to you about ratings. What is a rating? What does it look like? How do you market to it?

Rating services use statistical extrapolation from a small sample size to predict the actions of a larger group. Even the ratings services present their data as “estimates”. How can the responses of 100’s of people accurately reflect the actions of 100.000’s?

‘Arbitron Has Proven That The Diary Is Wrong’
http://www.radioandrecords.com/Newsroom/2005_11_11/arbitronhas.asp

In an exclusive interview with R&R, Zenith Media Services SVP Sam Sotifiou said that Arbitron’s research highlighting the value of the Portable People Meter has clearly shown that the current
diary-based methodology “is just plain wrong.” Sotifiou said the PPM presents radio as a reach
medium, whereas the diary-based system shows radio as a frequency medium. “That is clearly
not right anymore,” said Sotifiou, who admitted that he was slow to embrace PPM and only
did so after a Media Rating Council meeting on the device.

With the ad buyers and agencies in unison in their call for a faster rollout of PPM, Sotifiou believes Arbitron’s rollout of the technology could open up a problem for the ratings company. “We will
have the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots,'” he said, as some markets will continue to receive diary-based
ratings while others will be using PPM. “How can we plan with radio ratings that are wrong? We
need a lot of support to convert as many markets as possible to PPM, because this change is
cataclysmic in nature. The change is more a fundamental one.”

Among those on the AAAC, created as a formal venue for advertisers and advertising agencies
to have a dialogue with Arbitron senior management, are Busch Media Group Director/Media
Planning Vicky Champlin, Coca-Cola North America Manager/Media Information Megan
Bearden and Universal McCann SVP/Operations Director Jean Pool, who was unable to attend the meetings in Washington.

Adam Jacobson

The response of “it’s the best we’ve got” is not good enough. Using common sense and looking at a mediums past successes, events, customer testimonials can reflect their effectiveness for a businesses marketing and advertising plan. And now with Social Media, a mediums overall audience and reach can be estimated with as much or more accuracy as a week long paper dairy and a $2 incentive.

WIIFM’s.

Marketing and advertising should not be about you (the business). It should be about them (the consumer). Every decision that anyone has made in their adult life has answered an unspoken (and even sometimes spoken) question – “What’s In it For Me”? Answer that question and consumers will pay attention to your marketing messages. The answers may be plentiful, or there may only be one. However, rest assured, if your advertising and marketing are about you and not them, they will never notice you at all.

A few things you should know about today’s consumers and WIIFM’s. Don’t waste precious dollars advertising things that don’t matter.

We have been in business for… Congratulations. No one cares how long you have been in business. They want to know “How can you help me? Can you deliver what I need?”

We are friendly and dependable. Why do you have to tell me this?” They expect you to be friendly and dependable. Has there been an issue I need to know about?

Conveniently located. These are some wasted words. Just tell me how to find you. And if you are using radio or television don’t give them a street address. Tell them a location: across from, at the intersection of, next door to… Consumers will be much more likely to remember where you are this way and find you.

Phone numbers. Don’t use them in radio or television ads. Nobody remembers them and nobody writes them down. Plus a phone number takes up seven words (fourteen if you repeat the number) out of 85 in a :30 commercial with information that no one remembers.

We are open… Nobody will remember your days or hours of operation. Give them reasons to come (WIIFM’s). If they want to do business with you they will find your store hours from your website, Facebook page or on your front door.

Speaking about your website and Facebook page. Put your web address or your FaceBook tag on EVERYTHING! Your website and FaceBook are where you give consumers the details about you: your telephone number, your address, products, services, testimonials. And if at all possible remember this: first, try to get your web address to be the same name as your business. This way every time you say your business name you are promoting your web address. And every time you say your web address you are promoting your business name. Second, avoid unique spellings for your business name or your web address. It makes it increasingly more difficult for consumers to find you via Google, or to type in the correct name when you use unique or cute spelling.

Lets talk briefly about Search Engine Optimization. There is an entire industry of IT professionals who will gladly optimize your website so you are easily found when someone Googles, or BING’s, etc. There is no way every business in your category can be on the first page, optimized or not. And where and when you come up in a search is constantly changing based upon a variety of parameters. The truth is the most effective way to improve your Search Engine Optimization – is advertising your web address so consumers hear it, see it, remember it and can type in your URL directly. You’ll be found – every time!

Results. Am I crazy or shouldn’t I expect some?

Results is what is most important. Getting the phone to ring, feet in the door, clicks on your website and the cash register ringing. And, unless you are selling a very narrowly targeted product or service, EVERYONE is a good prospect. Why? Because they either need or want your product or service, or they will know some one who will. And once they know, then a transaction has the opportunity to take place.

So what must happen to get these results? First up is awareness. The key is getting enough information to consumers to get them to react and respond. If they do not know about you and what you offer, or even that you exist, they cannot do business with you.

Second, is Need/Want. Even if they know about you, they will not respond until they need or want your product or service. Sometimes the gap between Awareness and Need/Want is seconds or minutes. Other times it may be months or years. You have to continually remind consumers why they should choose to do business with you.

Awareness + Need = Opportunity

So, “How did you find out about us Mr./Ms. Customer?”

It is logical for a business to want to know what worked in getting a consumer to respond. The truth is, there usually is no chance of a consumer recalling what exactly caused them to respond. Oh, they will give you an answer if you ask… they want to be helpful. But it probably won’t be what really did the job. Just like the customer who told the business owner how effective their TV ad had been in bringing them into their business. Problem was, the business had never been on TV… EVER! The truth was they couldn’t remember what got them there… but the important thing was they were THERE!

Hmmmmmmm?

SO, you need to advertise because advertising is eternally (just ask Coca Cola, Nike and McDonald’s). What should you do… and with whom? The truth is all advertising will work or it would have gone away along time ago. And please note: just because a magazine, TV or radio station is the biggest doesn’t mean they are the most effective or cost efficient. The biggest will cost you more money (so you will have less frequency), more of your competitors will probably be there, and their creativeness and opportunities may not be as good as one of their “smaller” competitors. And let’s be candid, if you are a small business, more than likely you are not the biggest choice in your business category. But I’ll bet you believe with all your heart you are the best.

Some advertising mediums are going away, (newspaper, yellow pages and even direct mail if the USPS closes down) due to changes in technology. Others are changing and evolving (television, radio, Internet and billboards) while new technologies are developing and emerging (texting, Social media, and more).

SO what should you do? Research. Ask questions. Get testimonials. Ask for results, not ratings. Your decision will come down to how does your advertising/ marketing choice best answer consumers WIIFM’s, how relevant is the medium(s) you choose, what investment is needed, and most of all – who you like and trust to have your best interest at heart.

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