Why You Should Do Endorsement Commercials

 In Blog

When I worked with Jack Murphy at WKZL in Greensboro, one of the sponsors of his show was a coffee café called Kaffini’s. In some ways, Kaffini’s was the worst advertiser ever because they never paid us a dime.

A young married couple had poured their life’s savings into opening Kaffini’s, juggling a new baby and the husband’s job at the post office with their new business.

Then, the husband was called into military deployment as a reservist. The husband left for Iraq and the wife was alone with the café, the baby and a stack of bills.

Jack was moved by their story and decided to make Kaffini’s an unofficial sponsor of the show.

“I want you to try the place. Don’t patronize it because you feel sorry for them. But I promise that you will be hooked because their coffee truly is better than Starbucks.”

It worked. Kaffini’s had a line out the door. Jack’s campaign saved their business, and Kaffini’s thrived for many years.

That’s just one of the many positive experiences I have had with on-air endorsement campaigns. Next week, I will be presenting a seminar on talent endorsements at Morning Show Boot Camp in Chicago.

Over the years, I have become a sort of evangelist about the potential of live spots on radio shows. I’ve been accused of geeking-out at the intersection of creativity and commerce.

I sometimes encounter on-air talent, sales managers and program directors who are hesitant to air talent endorsement commercials. If that is your opinion, please allow me to try and change your opinion. Endorsements are crucially important to the future of high-content radio shows.

Audiences love endorsement commercials when they are entertaining and well-prepared. Listeners across the US repeatedly tell me in focus groups that the live spots are “part of the show.”

Get it? A commercial that won’t make your audience tune out. It might even make them tune in!

When I was on air at WNOK in Columbia, South Carolina, we had a live commercial from a restaurant called Lizard’s Thicket where a honey-voiced Southern waitress named Louise would call in with the daily specials. If Louise missed a day, listeners would call me asking where she was.

You are not “selling out.” There are ads on non-profit National Public Radio and in almost all successful podcasts. Listeners understand that you are in an advertiser-supported medium and are happy that they don’t pay a subscription to hear your show.

Endorsements give you job security. Once, I was on the verge of firing a heritage morning show with poor ratings and a worse work ethic, but the team’s endorsement relationships with advertisers convinced management to give them another chance. If your show is on the edge of renewal, a successful endorsement program gives you another solid anchor to stay in place.

Endorsements help you run the show. Once the money starts flowing in, management is more likely to want to keep it flowing by investing in things like equipment, services and producers.

You make money. There is lots of financial upside for you. I’ve seen talent make up to 30-40% of their annual income in talent fees.

Endorsements get the highest rates on the station, when sold effectively. Share that with your sales manager and watch her eyes light like a kid on Christmas.

Word of mouth is the most effective advertising there is. If you share the story of a business that you sincerely believe in with your audience as a trusted friend, you will help that business survive. In a world where advertisers are searching for anything to get customers in the door, endorsements work.

Radio endorsements are your exclusive advantage against every other advertising medium. Pandora, Spotify, Local TV, cable and newspapers can’t do it. If you are a live, local show, you can do more customized endorsements than a syndicated show. Your endorsement is also more influential than anonymous reviews on Yelp, Urbanspoon and Google.

If you are going to Morning Show Boot Camp, I hope you’ll come by my presentation titled “Live Reads = Mad Money” on Thursday morning at 10:00 AM. We’re going to reveal some effective secrets for increasing revenue and making the show more entertaining while supporting deserving local businesses. Bring your station manager and sales manager.

And if you are a Randy Lane Company client, ask us about our free seminar on developing your endorsement commercial program.


Photo Credit: Classic Film/Flickr

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.