The downside to working at an amazing, ridiculously cool station early in your career is that, for probably a decade after you leave, you compare everything to that experience. “Well, you know, at WLOL the way we did it was…”
I’m sure that I was pretty obnoxious but eventually I moved on in life but retained the lessons from that gig.
We used to do sticker spotting and after barraging every home in the metro area with a mailer that included a bumpersticker, magically, one morning, seemingly 1 in 3 cars had one of our stickers on them. And so we hit the streets and five times a day spotted stickers and awarded cash.
My Mr. Miyagi, a guy named Tom, always had me be “Paige in van #14” when I called in. We only had one vehicle, so I asked him why and he said “Because it sounds bigger. Words are our secret weapon.”
And it’s true. Radio is not about minimalism, it’s about maximalism. About taking what we say and spinning it so that we appear larger than life.
One van? Nah. We had twenty. And nineteen of them were at no cost.
I hear stations refer to their listeners winning something “From our prize closet”. A closet is where you keep your shoes and clothes and that shoebox of Polaroids from college. KDWB? Has a Prize Vault.
A vault is special and secure and filled with miraculous things. Why wouldn’t you want to call that beat up filing cabinet in the Promo office a vault?
When I worked in Charlotte, our studios were referred to as the Sky Suite. A mythical and magical broadcast center towering over the market. Not a modest office park a gunshot away from some serious ‘hood.
Cash. Only Radio could take something as amazing as free money and dumb it down to The $1000 Song Of The Day.
The Last Contest at Q in San Diego was the biggest Radio promotion in U.S. history and it holds that status because it took prizes like cruises and cars and trips and presented them in the sexiest and most compelling manner ever. In 2015, we would have taken Prize Package #285 and called it “$10,000 in cash”. Which sounds good, but with the Last Contest, it was “Choose Prize Package #285 and go home with thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars in cash”.
Think beyond the green. Cash can be more than cash.
In the case of Newcap in Edmonton, they took $3000 and milked a month out of “Win free gas for a year”. That sounds bigger than $3000.
The Wolf in Greensboro had an odd amount of money for a daily prize. $300. Huh. What to do with that? They framed it as “Win school lunches for a year for your kid” and the phone system in the Triad has yet to fully recover.
Mix in Springfield did a similar spin with “Win free groceries for a month!”. Okay, tell me, how many people don’t want free groceries for a month? It sounded far larger than what most stations would have packaged as “A $500 gift card to the Piggly Wiggly”.
The Minnesota State Lottery is a moderately successful operation. Their booth at the Minneapolis airport is directly across from TSA. Primo real estate. It’s like casinos that force you to walk through a rabbit warren of slots to find an elevator.
I normally blast on passed but their signage for their new game caused me to stop.
Win $1000 a day for the rest of your life.
Holy muther of GAWD. I bought 5 of the $2 tickets and continued on to my flight. Safely ensconced in seat 32 J, I started to do the math. That $365,000 a year. Even if I live another 30 years, that’s still not as big of a payout as most of their Mega Millions and Power Ball jackpots.
But….they got creative. They used semantics. And they got my $10.
It sounded bigger than the massive payoffs that happen a couple of times a year and are the lead story on the evening news as people stand in line for hours to shell over a few bucks.
51% of the US population will pay MONEY for a chance to win money. We can’t get more than 7% of people to text a code to win $1000 and let’s be honest, the odds are definitely, astronomically better with a Radio contest.
Yes. There’s hope. Hope of never working again. Hope of huge money. But the state lotteries are also a helluva lot better at manipulating the consumers than we are.
Semantics. Making $1000 sound bigger than the $1000 that your competitor is inevitably also giving away for the Spring book. It’s our best untapped weapon.