Expert Columns

I've never liked used car dealerships. From the moment you set foot on the lot, you feel like a hawk is ready to swoop down, scoop you up and eat you for dinner.
But when I saw a bunch of people standing around a race car, I had to stop, get out of my car and go look at its shiny paint job. And wouldn't you know it? Someone stepped away from the group and came over to talk to me.
I recognized her from the TV commercials. Her husband owned the dealership. She sometimes appeared in the ads and talked about how they started the dealership many years ago. I was expecting to hear a full-on sales pitch and get dragged around the lot to look at cars I had no intention of buying. I was wrong. Very wrong.
“Would you like a picture next to the car?” she asked. We chatted and I told her I'd show the picture to my sons. “They'll think you're awesome,” she said. I thanked her, climbed back in my car and drove home with a smile and a different attitude towards the dealership. They weren't all about the sale. They were about relationships. I was impressed.
A couple of years later, I stopped back by the dealership. I'd just bought a car and needed a VIN verification. Although they were closing up for the day, a salesman took the time to fill out the paperwork. When he handed it back, I asked how much I owed for the service. “Nothing,” he said. “Just keep us in mind the next time you need a car.”

How do you keep your promotions sounding fresh? Ever wondered where to find ideas for station imagers, remotes, big promotions and concerts?

Here’s the answer: Beg, borrow,

Maybe that sounds a bit harsh. After all, “Thou shalt not steal” is one of the Ten Commandments.

So how about this: Talk, Browse, and Swipe.

If you want to keep your promotions (both online and on –air) sounding fresh, then you need to build connections and conversations. Keep an eye out for what the industry is doing, and make a file of all those ideas.

Ready to get started? Here’s how to do it:

1) Talk: Start building connections in the industry. Connect with a local “Christians in Media” group, build connections via Facebook or LinkedIn, join an online group or read the comments sections in industry articles. Make it a point to have regular “input” sessions with others so that you keep a steady flow of good ideas.

2) Browse: Take a few minutes each week to scroll through Pinterest and look for ideas. I recommend searching for writing prompts or writing ideas. Make a habit of viewing ad agency websites and scanning through their portfolios. Learn how they use words and ideas. As you browse, ask yourself, “Will this idea work for my audience?” It doesn’t (and shouldn’t) be word for word, but train yourself to look at ads, portfolios and checklists for good ideas…and how to make them your own.

3) Swipe: A couple of years ago, I followed a writer’s suggestion of keeping a “swipe file.” I find a headline, story idea or thought and keep it in one of three places: Evernote, a leather-bound journal or in my personal “Book of Stuff.” My “Book of Stuff” is a small notebook where I keep notes on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest graphics, writing rules I don’t want to forget, web ideas and headlines. For me, a swipe file is where I store all those handy ideas that I’ve picked up from reading, browsing and talking to others. It gives me an instant and easy-to-access record of ideas.

It’s easy to find fresh ideas if you keep your eyes and ears open, and then write the ideas down in an easy-to-access location. But don’t just record the ideas, read them often and ask, “How can this work for me?” Make it a habit and put it to work. Then start cranking out those great promotional ideas!

Bill Arbuckle CMW

Bill Arbuckle is a media and marketing pro with over twenty-five years experience in creating media promotions.  You can connect with him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it....

Most radio promotions start with the question, “Who is my audience?” It's a question that gets drummed into our heads over and over through the course of our radio careers. And it's one of the most important questions we can ask … but when it comes to planning promotions, I challenge people to start with a simpler question: “What do you want to accomplish?”

Why start with that question? Because how you answer that question determines how you go about reaching your audience and creating promotions that work. But first, a warning: answering the question requires a lot of thinking … and it requires you to set – and stick to – one basic goal.

If you're ready for the challenge, here's how to answer the question, “What do you want to accomplish?” It starts with a SMART answer.  SMART is a project management tool that many people use, and it's a great tool to use when planning your next promotion. SMART is an acronym for:






Here's how to fill in the blanks:

SPECIFIC GOALS: Answer how many people you want in attendance. How many sales an advertiser needs. How phone calls you need to fund a project. Be very specific, but realistic. Set the number so you know what to work towards.

MEASURABLE GOALS: This explains how you'll track your specific goals. Will you check attendance at the door? Estimate crowds at a concert? Need X-dollars per hour? Plan “checkpoints” along the way so you'll know you're reaching your goal.

ATTAINABLE GOALS: Your client or advertiser will judge the value of the promotion based on the specific goals you've agreed on. So be realistic. Look at your past track record and know your limits. But don't be afraid to stretch a bit. Did two hundred people come to the last event you sponsored? Would 250 be a reasonable stretch goal? Better to underpromise and over-deliver than the other way around. Help your client understand what's realistic. They'll appreciate your honesty – and learn that their business matters to you and your station.

RELEVANT GOALS: Know what matters to your advertiser or sponsor. If you're promoting a womens' conference … and expecting to host 500 women, then plan all aspects of your promotion to reach those 500 women. Know where to promote, how to promote and what you need to do to connect with your target audience – and don't allow anything to distract you. “Mission creep” happens when you invite an unrelated project in to the event – a coloring contest for kids who might attend with their moms – and suddenly, you've diluted the goal of your event. Beware of good, but irrelevant goals.

TIME-BOUND GOALS: Your goal as a promotions person is to urge people to act. But setting time limits to a promotion, you're imposing scarcity:This is valuable, and it's only available for a very limited time. Get it or lose it. If something is always in your face, you tend to tune it out or avoid it. If, however, something is presented as limited, you want to snatch it while you can. The same applies to promotions.

Now it's up to you. Put the pieces together – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound – to answer the question, “What do you want to accomplish?” Now you're getting SMART … and you're on your way to creating highly successful promotions.

Bill Arbuckle CMW    

Bill Arbuckle is a media and marketing pro with over twenty-five years experience in creating media promotions.  You can connect with him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it....

The Big Game is over. Tom Brady's back on top. Lady Gaga stunned the nation by avoiding all the pre-game drama and simply singing songs. So now we can ask the real question about Super Bowl LI: Which ad takes the honor of being the best advertisement of 2017?
For the record, my favorite was Avacados from Mexico, followed by Christopher Walken's and Justin Timberlake's “Bai” ad.
Advertisers spent five million dollars to purchase a 30-second spot during the Big Game. With that much money on the line, you can bet that agencies put their best and brightest to work creating a spot that resonates with viewers and hopefully encourages them to purchase their product.
As a media professional, you get the benefit of seeing the results of all that creativity and pulling those messages apart to see what worked and what didn't. And you can put some of those ideas to work for you.
So when you go back and re-watch the ads, ask yourself these questions:
1) What message was the advertiser trying to give to viewers?
2) Who were they targeting?
3) Did the message stay true to their brand, or was it lost in controversy? (Or just plain boring?)
4) Was the story compelling? Does it move you to action? Will you purchase the product or watch the movie based on what you saw?
5) What one thing could the advertiser do – in your opinion – to tell a better story?
Take the answers you gave to these questions and apply them to your station/social media messaging. How can you make your promotions, advertising and messaging stronger by putting these lessons to work in your world?

What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words “Radio Promotions”? Is it the loud, Monster truck-type ads with screaming vocals, hard-driving music and a lot of hype? Or maybe you think of concerts, the cool-sounding, shades-wearing DJ with the golden voice.

A lot of times when I help people plan their marketing and promotions, I'll hear them say something like this: “Oh, well, so-and-so has great promotions, but I really don't have the money/talent/opportunity to do THAT.”

And here's my answer: You don't have to have all those things to get noticed. But there are some things that you need to know. If you're new to the promotions world, or you're working to boost listenership, here are some things that I've learned over the years. I hope these ideas will be of help to you and your project.

1) Radio promotions isn't about magic. It's about hard work. A lot of hard work. There's no magic potion, no genie in a bottle who can skyrocket your product to number one in the customer's/listeners' minds. You've got to put in effort and earn your audience's attention.

2) Radio promotions is about being consistent. Sure, it's fun to think up a new promotion or ad, but most of the time it's about showing up and being consistent – day after day, month after month. Sometimes it's boring. Or aggravating. You have to tweak copy. Rework the spot for the fifth time. Rewrite announcer copy. Again and again and again. And after your promotional campaign is over, you have to start all over again and earn listener's attention for the next event.

3) Radio promotions start by knowing what it is you're trying to do. A friend of mine always asks clients, “So, what does success look like?” Sit down with your client – whether it's the Program Director, advertiser or concert promoter and ask them what they're trying to accomplish. Be specific. Know exactly what you're trying to do and how to get things done.

4) Radio promotions are audience-specific. You've heard the phrase, “Who's your audience?” It's one of the most important questions we ask our clients. And, just like setting specific goals, you need to determine exactly who you want to target as a consumer. A lot of times when I ask clients, “who is your audience for this product?” I'll get the answer, “Women ages 30-55.” Nice answer … but you haven't told me anything about your target listener. Tell me why a 37-year-old woman wants your product? Does she need diapers for an 18-month-old baby? Does she have cavities and need to brush her teeth with your brand of toothpaste. Get specific details.

5) Radio promotions means knowing your limits and operating within those limits. This means that you need to know exactly who you are, what your station is all about and how much you can or can't deliver. It's also about knowing your audience and delivering promotions that your audience can't resist. means knowing all of this before you say yes to a prospective client.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to radio promotions. We'll answer some more questions over the next couple of weeks and add more tools to your promotions arsenal. I hope these next few articles will be very helpful to you and your team as you work to reach more listeners in the year ahead.

Bill Arbuckle CMW    

Bill Arbuckle is a media and marketing pro with over twenty-five years experience in creating media promotions.  You can connect with him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it....

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