Profitable Sales Promotions

Marketing a station is more than just broadcasting; it’s about enticing potential listeners to choose your station and invest their time in it.  Radio promotions are crucial to this strategy as they create station awareness that can significantly influence listeners’ decisions.

Have a definite objective for every promotion under consideration.  All promotions on your station should fulfill at least one or more of the following criteria:

  1. Increase audience. Improve Cume audience from more tune-in, lengthen Time Spent Listening (TSL), or generate audience Recycling (moving listeners from one daypart to another). A promotion may create awareness, enhance “street talk” in the market, and attain greater visibility.
  1. Enhance Image. Promotions help establish a personal bond between the station and core listeners, build the station’s entertainment brand, and expand the station’s visibility. They will also help make the station’s name better known, become a household word, and build its entertainment brand.
  1. Finally, a promotion may generate sales revenue.

When selling a sales promotion to a client, it’s important to determine the additional advertising revenue it will generate.  Many stations include the price of each promo in the sales promotion package.  Calculate how much extra advertising revenue will be generated when the station conducts a sales promotion.

A simple promotion qualifier is our AIR Checklist.  It determines the potential strength of a sales promotion and how well it may work for the station and the client.  Every sales promotion needs a defined objective and should fulfill these basic “A.I.R.” needs:

>   Audience.  How will it attract new listeners (cume) and expand the time spent listening?

>   Image.  How is it compatible with the station image, or how will it enhance it?

>   Revenue.  How can this promotion generate sales revenue?

If one or more of these criteria are unmet, reexamine the promotion and the goals. There should be enough lead time to stage the promotion effectively. This emphasis on planning lead time can reassure the audience and instill confidence in the promotion’s success. Allow several months for a major promotion (with multi-media involvement, like an outdoor festival). Plan one or three weeks of lead time for a smaller promotion (like a talent appearance or ticket giveaway).

On and off the air, radio stations continually work to garner new tune-ins and costumes, attract attention, sound exciting and fun, and extend the time spent listening.  On the air, the station is a promotion specialist where every contest or promotion has three definite phases:

  1. Pre-promotion – Telling the audience something worth listening to is coming up.
  2. Doing it – Staging the promotion, contest, or event.
  3. Post promotion – Telling the listener the station did it! This may be the most important phase, letting everyone know how big, fun, and great the event was.  Pre-promotion and post-promotion may be more memorable than doing the actual event.

Plan Your Sales Promotions

Use a simple screening process for all proposed sales promotions before signing off. Ask these questions:

  1. What’s the standard package? Develop criteria of appropriate packages that offer a fixed number of promos based on effectiveness; everyone knows the rules.
  1. Are sales promotions always audience promotions? A sales promotion should also attract new Cume, extend TSL, and enhance the station’s image.
  1. What’s the cash value of a promo? Don’t just give them away. Create a package that sets the value of promos at a healthy percentage of the client’s rate.

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John Lund is President of the Lund Media Group, a radio programming, broadcast consulting, and research firm with specialists in all mainstream radio formats.  Leave a comment below or email him at

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