On Air Promos



Heres an enormous shit fight. Everybody has an opinion, everyone's a marketing expert. But as you well know, very few (and in some cases those from the marketing department itself) know very much at all. Some think its posters, cards, letters, advertising campaigns and image support. Wrong. At the end of the day, marketing is supposed to be selling your product...in the case of television, bringing more viewers which brings more advertisers, which in turn makes a healthier profit. And it never ends, not unless you control 100% of the market and no one ever will. Everything you do is marketing, for good or bad. Every time someone gives an interview to the press, every time you make a show, every time you communicate with your audience in any way, shape or form thats marketing.

Marketing's primary function is to help promote your brand off air, off your channel. Off-air and cross channel. While your channel may be heavily involved with on-ground events, charities and stunts, the places where marketing is supposed to be pushing you further is in advertising, tie-ins with other mediums,  backdoor deals with press, magazines and so forth. If they're good, you'll be reading about your channel all the time. Your on-air personalities, charity work, ground work, anything and everything on magazine covers, stories in local papers, trade magazines etc. All this translates to an extension of your brand. And other ways to make money from it. Whether that's garnering potential new clients or direct selling your name on other products and suppliers. Whatever it is, it all comes back to making more money. But this doesn't mean it is the same thing as sales.

Go to the places where sales and marketing are virtually the same department, and you'll find the most miserable promo producers on the planet. There's all the usual reasons for this, but mostly because whoever combined those departments didn't think it through. If your channels been set up right for the long haul, then someones thought about the product..the channel itself. Even in cases where the channel is at the mercy of an affiliate system, the value of a good on-air promos team becomes obvious. A good local promo team translates and communicates the product to the audience in a way they appreciate. After that comes the marketing guys who are supposed to be taking that value and extending it in the market, (as in 'market'-ing). This increases the value of the product even more to bolster the sales team with strong ammunition for that same market. Combine sales and marketing over the lowly promo team and you have it backwards, creating an ugly circle that eats itself and never gets anywhere. Working together for the same cause is the only way. I've seen instances where television groups have been led by a pointless print campaign that translated awfully on air...why the hell would a television station do that to itself, and why be led by print in the first place? Someone didnt think it through. But I ramble

In a perfect world, you would have all the no brainers covered. If you were a music television channel, your channel would be playing in all record shops, your logo would be used to recommend various albums (after deals with labels), your programs would be syndicated on radio, every concert passing through the region would have your name on it, compilation albums would be under your banner, newspapers and magazines would be doing cover stories on your VJs...you get the idea. Your channel would have representation in all appropriate outlets, your name would be on everything related to your channel, you would have appropriate syndication. But we don.t live in a perfect world...not even close.

Viewers don't have to be watching your channel for your channel to make money. That is the old way when sponsorships and spot-buys were the be all end all. With all the other media outlets available now, that is no longer the case. Now, once again, here's the real nitty gritty of why a good promos team is so important. The better the brand is promoted, the more valuable it becomes. To everyone. The more people watching, the more clients want to be part of it. The larger the loyalty base to your channel, the more clients want to be part of it. The more audience-aware your channel is, the more clients want to be part of it. Translation: your channel speaks, people listen...clients want to be in on your pipeline. And only one branch of the pipeline is your channel. Remember, you have created and mothered a brand...and its the brand that is speaking.

I've found that the best station department set-up is to have a creative director, brand manager, punching bag (whatever you want to call him/her), that is the center. Marketing and the promos department works through this person. Sales works through this person. It makes sense as pretty much everything is an extension of your brand. And with someone in the center with the authority and tenacity to ensure that doesnt get screwed up, everyone wins.

Look at it this way...guys like Pepsi or Mountain Dew know the exact return from their marketing dollars. Its easy for them. They spent x, they sold x more cans of drinks. If they didnt sell any more cans, they know the marketing didnt work and learn why. With television and viewers, there.s very few direct returns that give you the hard numbers to use, so you need even better brand management than the big players have. Thats the CD.

Some kinds of promotions do give you direct feedback response. Call-ins, contests and the like. While these can give a station hard numbers in their hands, they aren't something to be used and abused for that sole purpose. Again, it comes back to the CD. Its their job to ensure that your brand isn't being sold down the river for a promotion with Jay's Dry Cleaning that will make you some cash this month, but drive away more viewers for next month. Short term bottom-line thinking has gotten a lot of places in trouble, and they dont realize when they got off the path until its far too late. Getting viewers is one thing, getting viewer loyalty another and if you burn your audience one too many times, you've lost them. Not completely, but that level of trust you had no longer exists, and that was the thing that was valuable to your client in the first place. Watch out for it, fight for it, change it. There are loads of ways to make the Jay's dry Cleaning scenario work. All Jay is interested in is driving more people into his store. He's interested in using you and your brand to directly increase the value of his brand. You don't have to prostitute yourself to do that. Maybe the contest entry or drop off point is only at Jay's outlets, maybe theres a stunt finding the greasiest ugliest clothing stain on the planet where you get $100 bucks if Jay can't clean it, anything other than directly affecting the value of your brand.