Talk's Unique Advantage | TALKERS magazine - talk media trade : TALKERS magazine

Talk’s Unique Advantage

| October 17, 2012

By Al Herskovitz
H & H Communications

BRADENTON – In the wild mad scramble for ad dollars during these highly challenged economic times, Talk Radio has  one outstanding and special advantage over other popular radio formats. In order to enjoy listening to talk, it is obvious that one has to listen to it attentively. It doesn’t make a very good background service as does music.That is why certain products tend to gravitate toward both the demographics and the psychographics of the format…. particularly higher priced goods and services.

A couple talk users in this category come to mind immediately.  General Steel is one.  This company manufactures and erects structures such as warehouses, factories, office facilities. These are not small ticket items, yet they’ve found a market via radio talk shows. Another is CSX, a leading international supplier of railroad-based freight transport. I’ve seen their freight cars roll by as I’ve waited at a railroad crossing light. They too believe that there are customers for their services among those who listen to talk radio. Cross-country freight car space does not lease for the price of a Big Mac and a Coke.

Specialized syndicated shows struggle for sponsors since many of their producers continue to believe that those numerous dominating advertisers  they hear across the dial daily should make a buy on their “twenty-affiliates-in-fringe-markets” program when their show is but a flea on an elephant’s back and not worth the paper-work trouble for the ad agency shepherding the big account and its big budget. Even the most successful of the independents continues to struggle for a piece of the expenditures.  The sales reps for these programs should take a cue from their wiser brothers and sisters who target subject-related prospects.

Still errors continue to be  made.  It would be hard to believe that the Rolls Royce manufacturer or even the local  Rolls dealer would want to buy a spot in that Sunday, 5:30 AM  auto show.  But an Atlanta station saleswoman I know did sell that very program to a salvage yard in her market coupled with a weekday spot package and a handful of promos.  Now that’s creative salesmanship!

Yes, there are the numerous categories that do gravitate specifically toward talk programming – law firms, insurance, banking, investments, real estate, health-related products and services and so on. But today’s changing world has opened new, relatively untapped categories – gun shops; shooting ranges; addiction treatment centers, web-only businesses, cause and advocacy organizations, older adult dating services…to name a few.  This should give salespeople food for thought. Rather than ambling down the same old paths reps should cast about seeking new, different, untapped possibilities.

There was one I heard on the air the other day that really caught my ear in a major way. The product wasn’t a shocker. It was the manner in which  it was pitched that really attracted my serious attention.  What was being advertised was a fertilizer called Black Kow which is intended for use on garden plants such as tomatoes  and on lawns. Fertilizer commercials are not that unusual. Many are heard on the air particularly on gardening shows and even on general programming seasonally.

But in this instance Black Kow was uniquely described as the “MATURE MANURE.” How’s that for an identifier?  Wait a minute.   That does not end it!  Not only did the well-produced spot laud the  basic qualities of the product, but that there was emphasis on the age of the stuff which described it as very important to its effectiveness. Going beyond just talking about it, they had a jingle.  They sang about it!

Now if talk radio can sell old cow manure, it can sell anything!

Al Herskovitz is president of H&H Communications, a Bradenton, Florida-based national radio syndication and advertising company.  He can be phoned at 941-708-6520 or e-mailed at

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Category: Sales