Creativity often requires a certain amount of courage. Now and then we all need to be bold enough to do things the client doesn?t expect, and things none of your competitors would ever dream of doing.
Back in 1996 I changed our station format from Elevator Music to Adult Contemporary. Formerly, we used our dusty old call letters, but I decided to change to the new STAR 94.
The day we made the change, I broadcast nothing from 6 a.m. until noon but the sound of carpenters hammering, sawing, and chatting, and lumber clattering.
I ran liners a couple of times an hour saying we were building a new radio station, the public was freaked out!
They sent police to our studios, two live TV crews, and hundreds of people gathered outside. We disabled the phones and didn?t let anyone inside, including the cops. Even my mother called my cell to say that we had ?left the mic on? and ?the workers didn?t know they were on the air.?
Finally, at high noon, we started our new format with new jingles, new liners, and opened the doors.
It was the best publicity we could have imagined. We even made the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. TV news!
About a month later, on a Monday, my sales rep, Howard, stopped in one morning at a bicycle shop that had just opened and was airing commercials on several other stations about their grand opening coming up that Saturday.
The bike shop owners were polite, but they told Howard they?d never heard of STAR 94, and that they?d spent all their G.O. budget (always a lie!).
?But we?ll listen to your station, Howard, so be sure to keep in touch,? they said.
Now, 98 percent of reps would have wished them good luck on their grand opening and planned a return visit maybe a month or so later. However, I?d trained Howard differently.
He told the owners he was certain that STAR 94 had their audience, and that we would have a successful and long-term relationship. He then said, ?I?d like to do something for your grand opening, as a gift to you.?
Puzzled, the owners asked what it was. Howard got our PD on the phone and had him do a taped interview with the owners about their business and the grand opening. This was at 10 a.m. on a Monday!
The PD captured snippets from the interview and created a beautiful 60-second commercial. He called the owners to explain that we would air the commercial at 3 p.m. that afternoon. The surprised owners tuned us in right away, and later that afternoon they heard the commercial ? and loved it.
Tuesday morning, Howard got a call from them, thanking him and saying that ours was the best commercial any station had produced. They then said (surprise, surprise) that they had found another $700 and wanted to run that commercial the rest of the week, up to their grand opening. They even asked if they could have two copies for two other stations to run.
It cost us only a small amount of time to produce the spot and one minute of free air-time. That bike shop has been one of our longest-running clients.
I should add that, prior to changing our ?name? and format, we were not even considered a ?player? by the other 20 stations in the market, but we scared them out of their sleep with creative, out-of-the-box thinking, and over the following months and years we?ve stolen many clients from them.
BOTTOM LINE: If it hasn?t been done before, that in itself may be the best reason for doing it. The comfort of being ?in the box? is a sort of first cousin of laziness. Next time you?re packing a sandwich before heading out to work in the morning, pack a couple of ounces of outside-the-box boldness.
Gary Ratcliff is the owner of High Impact Communications, Inc. and a broadcast sales author. Visit his LinkedIn page HERE.
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