How to Select Your Message Delivery Vehicle

Posted by on May 16, 2011

1. You have something to sell and
2. You want to tell the world about it.

These are my first questions:

1. Are people already looking for it?
2. Can you deliver your message in 8 words or less?

If the answer to both questions is yes,

Put up a big, intrusive sign.

The world may be a little uglier for it, but you’ll sell a lot of stuff. For the record, 8 is the number of words a driver can read before they feel compelled to look back at the road. Put more than 8 words on a sign and you’ll be advertising to the passenger seat.

A high-visibility location for your business is usually the cheapest advertising you can buy. But don’t be fooled by traffic numbers. High traffic doesn’t always mean high visibility.  

These are the pivotal questions:

1. How many people drive past here each day?

2. Are they mostly the same people each day driving to and from work, or is this a twice-a-month artery for a much larger population?

3. Could a person drive past here and not notice this business? If the answer is, “No, they would definitely notice it,” then acquire the location. It’s a landmark that will serve you faithfully for many years to come.

The Internet is electronic print, instantly updatable and deliverable on demand. As such, it has effectively replaced the newspaper, the telephone book, the encyclopedia and the dictionary and it is rapidly replacing the bookstore. Product brochures and catalogues are becoming “virtual,” existing only as backlit images on a screen. Lost your instruction manual? Go online. You can download it as a pdf file.

Slash your Yellow Page budget and get serious about your web presence. Are your business hours and phone number easy to find on your home page? Jeffrey Eisenberg told me recently that a high percentage of visitors to the web sites of local businesses are looking for exactly that information. Don’t frustrate these customers. Put your phone number and your store hours on your home page. Do it.

To think of the Internet as electronic media like television and radio is a huge mistake. Online streaming video was popularized by Youtube but the experience of it requires continual decision-making and physical participation, much like a video game. Television, on the other hand, is passive. Sit and stare. The biggest threat to the effectiveness of television commercials isn’t the Internet, but the DVR.  Gone are the days when television networks could corner us and force us to watch a sales pitch. God bless TiVo.

My friend “Other Roy” Laughlin is piercingly insightful when it comes to our consumption of media. “What’s the difference between a country club and a municipal golf course?” he asked. He looked at my blank face a moment then answered his question, “The price of admission. Traditional broadcast TV commercials won’t away, they’ll just reach people who can’t afford DVRs. People with money use technology to shield themselves from commercials.” These observations might seem self-evident today but Other Roy said these things 7 years ago, back when dinosaurs roamed the land. Like I said, he’s piercingly insightful.

Texting while driving is more dangerous than a loaded gun. It’s more dangerous than drugs, tobacco and alcohol combined. Your car’s lack of a built-in, hands-free device for listening to the internet is what keeps internet radio from being an immediate threat to broadcast radio.*

Few people listened to FM radio until auto manufacturers began installing FM receivers as standard equipment in the 1970s. The trickle-down of new cars to used car buyers takes almost 7 years, so we’re at least that many years away from radio’s effectiveness being seriously eroded by the Internet.

Yes, I am a huge proponent of radio for growing local businesses. I’ve found it to be an amazing tool for turning little businesses into big ones. But radio is often misunderstood and misused by advertisers, leaving them to say with conviction, “I tried radio and it didn’t work.”

Be at Wizard Academy June 29 and 30 and I’ll tell you what you did wrong. Pay attention, correct this problem and soon your banker will commission a portrait of you to hang above his desk.

The little brass plaque on its frame will read, “Our Largest Depositor.”

I’m going to teach this class only once and seating is limited.

A lot of people will wait to register and find themselves facing a little banner than says, “SOLD OUT.”  Many of these fine people – some of them dear friends of ours – will call Kristin or Becke or Corrine and say, “Can’t you please add just one more seat?” It is for Kristin and Becke and Corrine that I’m writing this closing paragraph. They will remember it and feel better when they are forced to say, “I really wish I could, but no, I can’t. I simply can’t. I’m sorry.”

Attend this class and I promise you’ll say to yourself more than once, “Wow. How did I not know that? It’s so obvious.” You’ll then use this new knowledge to attract customers like never before. Your competitors won’t be able to figure it out. Your friends will wonder what’s gotten into you. Your business will blossom like a flower.

I say it’s time to get floral. What do you say?

Roy H. Williams

* “But what about Pandora,” you ask?

My friend Eric Rhoads, publisher of Radio Ink, provides us with the following:

In its IPO filing, Pandora claims to have more than 50 percent of all Internet radio listening. Not too shabby. But only 3 percent of all radio listening in the United States takes place in digital form. The rest, 97 percent, is still over the air. And most of the Internet radio listening Pandora doesn’t get is terrestrial radio streaming.

Pandora claims to have streamed more than 3.9 billion hours of programming to its registered users. Seems like a big number, until you realize that annual U.S. radio listening is an estimated 179 billion hours. If Pandora had four times the registered users (320 million, more than the entire U.S. population) , it would be doing 15.6 billion hours, or less than 10 percent of all radio listening.

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