Repetition and Results
Published in the June 16, 2008 issue of Radio Ink
Roy H. Williams
It’s a question asked by business owners in every town, village and hamlet. It’s asked by the cautious, the anxious, and the wise. It’s asked of every newspaper, television and radio rep. “How many ads will I have to run before I begin seeing results?”
Due to the fact that small market radio stations sell a higher percentage of local, direct accounts than stations in larger markets, small town reps usually have a better sense of how to answer the “How many?” question.
Large market reps and national reps rarely receive detailed feedback from the agencies they serve. The reason for this lack of feedback is that most agencies employ a media mix, so they’re never sure how much credit to give radio.
Here’s how to frame your answer to the question of “How many ads?” I’m assuming, of course, that you already know the importance of frequency, so let’s set that aside for a moment and talk about factors that not even frequency can overcome.
The number of ads your client will have to run before they begin seeing results will depend on the client’s product purchase cycle and the impact of the message. I’ve written often about impact.
Product Purchase Cycle refers to how often the average person buys the product. The shorter the product purchase cycle, the quicker you’ll see results.
EXAMPLE: Let’s say 120,000 mattresses were sold last year in my market of 1,000,000 people.
To determine the Product Purchase Cycle for a category:
1. Divide the population of the trade area by the annual transaction count for the category. (1,000,000/120,000 = 8.33)
2. This is your annual Product Purchase Cycle. (8.33 years would be the annual product purchase cycle for mattresses.)
To determine the Percentage of Population in the Market for a product:
1. Divide the annual transaction count for the category by the population of the trade area. (120,000/1,000,000 = .12)
2. Move the decimal 2 places to the right. This is the percentage of your population that will be in the market for the product this year. (12 percent)
3. Divide that percentage by 52 and to see how many customers will be in the market for that product this week. (12/52 = 0.23 percent of the population will buy a mattress this week.)
To determine the Annual Transaction Count for any category in your trade area:
1. Google to find the number of units sold in America each year.
2. Divide by the population of the US to get a number per capita
3. Multiply the per capita number by the population of your trade area.
Additionally, ask your client if they happen to know the national volume for the category. They often have this information. Compare their number to what you turned up on Google. Do this openly so the client can see any discrepancy. Ask the client which number feels more accurate to them. Use whatever number the client feels to be most accurate.
If you were to begin a high frequency, high-impact radio campaign this morning, you could overflow any restaurant in your city by suppertime. No problem. This is because 100 percent of the population eats every day and a high percentage of us are willing to eat out tonight if given a good reason to do so. But how many of us are looking for a new mattress?
Results can be delivered quickly when the Product Purchase Cycle is short. But the longer the product purchase cycle, the longer it’s going to take for the campaign to gain momentum:
1. Any ad for a product the customer doesn’t currently need is, by definition, a low-impact ad. Regardless of what the ad says, its relevance will be lower to the customer who feels no need. This means the campaign will take longer to get results.
2. Weeks from now, when we’ve finally delivered enough repetition of this low-impact ad for it to be remembered when the customer finally needs the product, we have a new problem: We have to wait for the customer to need the product.
Bottom line: If a client is anxious but their product has a short product purchase cycle, create an offer with real impact and make sure the client has frequency. Radio is going to sparkle and shine.
But if your client is anxious and their product has a long purchase cycle, make sure they grasp the need for a 52-week commitment. Any attempt to “test the waters” with a short-term schedule is likely to end in disaster.
Alone, impact and frequency aren’t enough to overcome a long purchase cycle.
The missing ingredient is commitment.
Roy H. Williams