Years ago, radio managers said, ?If you control their creative, you control the buy.? Today it?s becoming, ?If you control their digital, you control the buy.?
There's an internal struggle happening within many radio groups right now. They're wondering if they should get into the digital marketing services arena or try to compete against local agencies who are already offering digital services, such as content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, SEO, and website design.
I recently had a market manager ask how their group could combat against a new, local, polished digital marketing agency. They're grabbing local radio advertisers and getting them to spend five times more in digital services than they ever did on radio campaigns.
The answer allowed me to touch on not only how what they were up against with the agency, but to also share some insight I had on a radio group that has already built out its own in-house digital marketing division.
The bad news is that more and more local businesses continue to reach for the shiny objects in the room: content and social media marketing. The good news is that most of those local businesses won't succeed in their efforts. Here's why...
The majority of local digital, social, and content marketing campaigns will fail if they?re not done perfectly. One of the big problems is that business won?t commit for the long haul (it takes longer for digital marketing success than radio success). The other problem is that local businesses fail to realize that if they?re just putting out noise, versus having an authentic digital/social/content voice, they will fail.
Authenticity is the secret ingredient to successful online marketing. And it?s the most difficult to achieve because it requires the local business to establish their own voice and personality online. They hear all the hype, hire a digital marketing agency (which creates their content) and inevitably run out of gas when that content is perceived as fluff to those who read it. The end result is they don?t grow an audience and those digital marketing dollars are wasted.
Here?s the good news for radio. After your prospects jump in bed with a digital marketing agency, spend all that money and fail, be sure you?re standing by to pick up the pieces and give them a hug. You then get the opportunity to remind them of simpler times when they were able to have success when they spent their budget on a smart, creative radio campaign.
Some radio groups, both large and small, are starting to offer similar digital marketing/social media marketing services. It seems like a good idea on the surface, but you have to have a really top-notch, six-figure digital CMO to lead the effort. And not many market managers are willing to commit to that level of talent, let alone the ability to find a digital CMO talented enough to run a radio digital marketing department. There just aren?t many out there.
I recently had a conversation with a successful mid-market digital manager. This is a veteran radio guy who also knows the digital marketing game at a high level. Anyhow, their group bit the bullet and created their own in-house digital marketing department. They have over 15 employees and finally turned a profit after year two. That doesn?t mean the effort is creating a successful ROI, it just means they finally got out of the red. I thought you would be interested to know in case your group has been kicking around the idea. Two years to turn a profit. And I consider their lead guy a player who knows what he?s doing.
There are many considerations in building an in-house digital marketing department. It requires leadership that is as knowledgeable in the digital marketing game as they are in the traditional radio sales game. Unlike good ol' radio advertising, there are 20 times more moving pieces in digital marketing. This requires a real commitment. But, if that's not a commitment your group is willing to make, or can't find the key personnel to make, you can take some encouraging news that the majority of local businesses who dip their toes into digital marketing will come back to radio because of its simplicity and faster results. The important thing to remember is that you probably won't be able to stop advertisers from trying it, but you can certainly be attentive to them in the process and bring them back to radio after they've had their digital marketing experiment.
Gregg Murray is a former DOS who has spent the past decade rebranding radio sales groups into B2B marketing agencies. He?s the author of Website Blueprint and previous winner of Best Radio Website in America. His mother, Kay Murray, is a member of the WV Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Gregg is founder of www.relaunchradio.com and the Modern Radio Sales Linkedin Group. He can be found on Twitter @greggmurray.
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