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How To Get Free Radio Advertising

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The greatest expense you're going to incur in conducting a successful business is with advertising. You must advertise. Your business cannot grow and flourish unless you present your product or service to as many potential buyers as possible. Advertising is the life-blood of any profitable business. Regardless of where or how you advertise,
it's generally going to cost you.

Successful businesses are built upon their advertising programs. The top companies in the world allocate millions of dollars annually to their advertising budgets. Hundreds of thousands of dollars can be spent on a single, thirty second television commercial. And with reason. Consistent, memorable advertising placed before a crowd of prospective buyers will ultimately increase sales. Think about it for a moment. During the late evening hours when you are hungry, what type of commercials appear on television? Advertisements promoting fast-food restaurants! A product placed before a prospect in a timely fashion will always generate more sales than a product that has limited exposure. Advertising is the backbone of business.

Of course, when starting a home business from a garage, basement, or kitchen table, you can't quite match the advertising efforts of huge corporations - at least not in the beginning. But there is a way you can approximate their maneuvers without actually spending their kind of money. The secret is known as P.I. Advertising.

P.I. stands for "Per Inquiry," and is a method of advertising most generally associated with radio broadcasting. You pay only for the responses you receive from your advertising message. The method is somewhat akin to bartering, and is probably used by many more advertisers than you realize. The advantages of P.I. advertising are all in favor of the advertiser. There is no risk in placing P.I. advertising, and by using this kind of an advertising arrangement you pay only for the results the ads produce.

To get in on this free advertising, start with a loose leaf notebook and about 100 sheets of filler paper. Next, visit your public library and start looking through the Broadcast Yearbook on radio stations in the U.S., or in the Standard Rate and Data Services Directory (SRDS) section on spot radio. Another method is to call or visit one of your local radio stations and ask to borrow (and take home with you) their current copy of either of these volumes. To purchase them outright will cost about $100 each. Once you have a copy of either of these publications, select the state or states you want to work first. Both of these publications will give you just about all the information you will need to know about licensed radio stations in your area.

It's generally best to begin in your own state and work outward from there. If you are promoting a money-making manual, you might want to start first with those states reporting the highest rate of unemployment. Use some old fashioned common sense. Who are the people most likely to be interested in your offer, and where are the largest concentrations of these people? You wouldn't attempt to sell windshield de-ice canisters in Florida, or suntan lotion in Minnesota during the winter months, would you?

Once you've identified your first "target" area, examine the radio listings for the cities and towns in that region. Jot down in your notebook the names of the general managers, the station call letters, and the addresses. Be sure to list the telephone numbers as well. On your first try, list only one radio station per city. Pick out the radio station to which people most interested in your product would be listening. This can be determined by the programming description contained within the data block about the station in the Broadcasting Yearbook or the SRDS Directory.

Let's say that you've listed 250 different radio stations. Arrange the list of stations you want to contact alphabetically by the towns they are licensed to serve. Use a tab to separate each state. Now place a phone call or write a letter to the manager of each of
the stations. With this first contact introduce yourself and inquire if the station would consider a P.I. advertising campaign. Inform the station manager that you have a product you feel will sell very well in his market and would like to test it before going ahead with a paid advertising program. You must point out that your product sells for so many dollars, and that during this test you will allow the station 50% of that price for each response the ads pull in for you. Some stations may demand a higher percentage, so be prepared to be flexible with your offer. Explain that you will handle everything
for the station: the writing of the commercials, all accounting and bookkeeping, shipping of the product, as well as any refunds or complaints that occur. In other words, all the station has to do is schedule your commercials on the log and give it their best shot. When the responses come in, the station will simply need to count them and
forward the entire number on to you for fulfillment. You make out a check for payment, and everybody is happy.

Contacting station managers by phone is by far the quickest, least expensive, and most productive method of finding those stations willing to consider your P.I. proposal. However, if you have difficulty contacting the station manager, it will be necessary to write a letter. Make your letter positive in tone, straightforward, and complete. Present all the details in logical order on one page, perfectly typed on your company letterhead and mailed in an imprinted envelope. Rubber-stamped letterheads or envelopes will not get more than a passing glance. Include a self-addressed and stamped postcard with
spaces for positive or negative checks in reply to your question: "Are you willing to look over my materials and consider a mutually profitable Per Inquiry advertising campaign on your station?" If you're turned down and the station is not interested in taking on any P.I. advertising, simply give them your thanks, make a notation in your notebook by that station's name, and go on to your next call.

Once you have an agreement from a radio station to look over your materials and give serious consideration to a P.I. program, move quickly. Get your package off right away by First Class mail or overnight delivery. Don't allow time for a station manager's interest in your program to cool down. You must respond while the conversation is fresh in the manager's mind and he is well disposed toward your material. If you wait too long, he may forget about your conversation or loose interest in your proposal.

Your package of information should include several items: a written or taped copy of the commercial you plan to use, a brief page describing your product (development, inventor/author), a detailed proposal of how you will handle all orders received and when and how you will pay the station it's share of the income, and a reply postcard.
Write a short cover letter, place it on top of your prepared P.I. advertising package, and get it in the mail to each interested prospect without delay.

One of your greatest needs will be at least two, thirty-second commercials and two, sixty-second commercials promoting your product. You can compose these yourself or have a professional copywriter help you. Mass communications students at a local university might be interested in helping design such advertisements as a class project, to gain experience for their resumes, or at a fraction of the cost of established
copywriters. When the texts of these ads are completed, have several hundred copies printed and organized as a part of your P.I. advertising package.

Develop an advertising contract that details everything about your program, and how responses are to be handled. One or more special paragraphs relative to refunds, complaints, and liabilities need also be included in this contract. All this can be very quickly written up and printed in large quantities on carbonless, multi-part, snap-out business forms.

Finally, include in your packet a self-addressed, stamped postcard the radio station can use to let you know if they are going to use your P.I. advertising program, when they will start running your commercials on the air, how often, and during which time periods. Again, simply type out the wording in the form you want to use on these reply postcards, and have copies printed for your packets.

You'll also need to compose a cover letter to introduce the packet as a follow-up to your conversation with the station manager. Write one to fit all situations and have copies printed. When you're ready to send out a package, all you'll have to do is sign it. If you
spoke of different arrangements or a specific matter was discussed in your initial contact, you will need to type a different letter incorporating comments or answers to the points discussed. Having your letter on a word processor or memory typewriter will save you considerable time if you have to change some information, and will allow you to personalize each letter mailed out. However, it's not absolutely necessary.

In summary, your first step is to make an initial contact with prospective radio stations after searching through the SRDS or Broadcasting Yearbook. Actual contact with the stations is by phone or mail. When turned down, simply say thanks, and go on to the next station on your list. For those who want to know more about your proposal, immediately get a P.I. advertising package off to them via the fastest method possible. Don't let the interest wane. Your advertising package should contain the following:

* Cover letter
* Sample brochure, product literature
* Thirty-second and sixty-second commercials
* P.I. Advertising Contract
* Self-addressed, stamped postcard for station reply

Before you ask why you need an acknowledgement postcard when you have already given them a contract, remember: everything about business changes from day to day - conditions, employees, ownership of stations, and a host of other things. The station manager may sign a contract to begin your advertising on the first of March. The contract is signed on the first of January, but when March rolls around, he may have forgotten, been replaced, or even decided against running your program. You must have a firm committment from the station as to how often and at what hours they will run your advertisements. A lot of paper covering all the minute details can reinforce with the radio station manager the importance of this campaign, and convince him that your company is a good choice for this business arrangement. Several weeks before your ad campaign is to begin, call and check with the station manager to make sure everything is in order. "Are the commercials set up on tape for air play?" "Is the mailing address in the commercial correct?" "Is the schedule of air play set and
may I please have a copy?"

If you're impatient to get started with your own P.I. advertising campaign, before you plunge in head first, remember: radio people are dedicated business professionals. Radio is simply a means of advertising products and making money. While the entertainment aspect of radio is important, the radio station is dedicated to making a
profit. Be sure you have a product or service that lends itself well to selling via radio advertising.

At the bottom line, a lot is riding on the content of your commercial: the benefits your product can provide the listener, and how easy it is for him to enjoy those benefits. For instance, if you have a new book on how to find jobs when there seemingly aren't any jobs available, you want to talk to people who are desperately searching for employment. You have to appeal to them in words that not only make them pay attention to your commercial, but will cause them to feel that your offer will solve their problems. It's the timely presentation of an appropriate product to the right audience combined with the strength of the advertising message that will bring in responses
and generate sales.

Radio station managers are sales people, and sales people the world over will be sold on your idea if you put your selling package together properly. If the responses come in to your first offer, you have set yourself up for an entire series of successes. Success has a ripple effect, but you have to begin on the first one if the others are to follow. Get started today. Begin gathering all the materials for your advertising packet and lining up prospective radio stations. We wish you success!

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