Category Archives: Promotions

Fall Promotions

THEME NIGHTS. Take a cue from the big guys and work with your local high school athletics departments to come up with some attendance-boosting on-site promotions that you can participate in and talk about. Simple example: Ask fans to wear one of the team’s two colors (most teams have two). Great visual.

KICK FOR CASH. Line up one or more participating sponsors to offer a cash prize or a Prize Pack is a randomly-selected fan can score a field goal from a predetermined distance.

PASS, PUNT, KICK. From the back of the end zone, your contestant starts with a pass towards the opposite goal line, followed by a punt from where the pass landed, and ends with a kick through the uprights. As above, your participating sponsor or sponsors provide a prize.

PERFECT PUNT. Park a truck a set distance from pay dirt. Randomly select your contestants to pull off the perfect punt into the bed of the truck. Prizes provided by participating sponsors.

PRIZE PLAY. Invite listeners to submit their information and a certain football play. If that play occurs in a given game, draw a name from among those who selected that play. Better yet, print up entry forms with a check-list of plays and put them in sponsor locations.

TARGET TOSS. Give a randomly-selected contestant the chance to drop back and throw the perfect pass through a template or car window. Sell one main participating sponsor who has naming rights (“The NAPA Auto Parts Target Toss”) and who provides a significant prize; an auto dealer would be perfect, because they can provide the car. Alternatively, sell a bunch of advertisers and set aside a certain amount of cash from the proceeds, or make a prize of X value a participation requirement.

FOOTBALL TRIVIA I. Encourage your listeners to tune into your Friday-night high school play-by-play and do trivia questions about the game after the game. . .or in the morning show on Monday morning. (You can also do this at half-time during the game.)

FOOTBALL TRIVIA II. Work with a local sports bar to have one of your jocks on hand for the Monday-night football telecast. Make it a party with trivia questions and random prize drawings. If your station skews more female, do a “ladies only” party to watch the game, or a “Ladies Night Out” to provide alternate activities while the men-folk watch the game.

FOOTBALL WIDOWS’ CLUB. From 5:00 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday evenings, members sign in at “Shoppers Stadium” to get a list of special offers and discounts available that evening. They can also register for prize drawings for jewelry or getaway weekends. To keep children occupied, there’s a “Kids’ Clubhouse” where, for $4, kids get dinner and a movie while their moms shop.

TIME FOR A CHANGE. The end of Daylight Savings Time is the first Sunday in November. Air messages reminding your listeners, sponsored by a challenger political candidate. The sell line: “It’s time for a change!”

WINTER SURVIVAL PACKAGE. You’ll want to start setting this up fairly soon. Sell each client a preset schedule with a preproduced commercial that will run only under certain weather conditions. Good prospects include travel agents and stores that sell snow-blowers, snow tires, 4WD vehicles, snowmobiles, wood stoves, kerosene heaters. The selling point is that the advertiser can be on the air immediately when snow or bad weather hits. Make sure it’s clear the conditions under which the schedule will go into effect, or agree on telephone authorization. Your salespeople will need to stay on top of this, making sure the client gets on the air whenever appropriate.

THE ELVIS CADILLAC. On September 1, 1956, Elvis Presley gave his mother a pink Cadillac. Depending on what you can do, you could give some Mom the genuine article (they’re out there), or a model car with a special Elvis prize package.

RUN FOR SHELTER. Fall is full of foot-races, so it’s a good time to organize one to benefit a local homeless shelter. You can sell a title sponsorship to a restaurant that will provide pasta, juice and water for runners after the race.

CELEBRITY NIGHT. This works well in any market, because any town has people who are (a) genuinely funny, (b) hams, or (c) all of the above. Invite well-known locals to participate at a special night at a sponsoring bar or restaurant. Let them keep the cash bar. Choose a charity to receive the proceeds. Get the “celebrities” on the station beforehand, and broadcast the event live.

LEAF PATROL. Find a local youth organization willing to rake leaves for donations. Invite listeners to call in and request the group’s services. Provide station tee shirts and hats for the workers to wear on the job. Make sure you include a time or lawn-size limit.

ARTS ‘N’ APPLES FESTIVAL. Rochester, MN held a three-day art and entertainment fair sponsored by the downtown organization. Proceeds went to help a downtown arts center. Festivities included a sidewalk Chalk Art contest, gallery and pub crawls, an Art on the Town exhibit, horse-drawn carriage rides, Face Painting and Young At Art for children.

The Chalk Art contest started with the “creations” from Noon to 6 p.m. Then the art was judged and prizes awarded in three categories—Child (up to 12 years), Youth (12-17) and Adult (18+).

During the Gallery Crawl, people followed a red apple trail painted on the sidewalks to visit downtown art galleries and shops. A drawing was held among all those who visited them all.

OPERATION WARM. During the month of December, collect coats for the area’s needy. Hook up with sponsors and have listeners drop off the coats and receive discounts in the stores. Line up a dry cleaning establishment to clean the coats as a donation in return for participation in the event. Work with your local Goodwill, Salvation Army or Care & Share to collect the coats from sponsor locations and distribute them to deserving families.

RECYCLING CONTEST. Each school in your area competes to see who can collect the most newspapers, cans and bottles to be recycled. The winning school gets a free dance hosted by one of your jocks, or free lunch for all the students.

Halloween Promotions

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. This Halloween staple is over 40 years old (it debuted in the Fall of 1975). And what would Halloween be without Rocky Horror (or black fishnet stockings and transvestites, for that matter)? The movie will be playing on cable television, and I know of at least one stage show that will also be televised. Arrange for a screening at a local sports bar or other venue with multiple screens. Invite people to come in costume, armed with props they can use during the show. (You can find a complete guide to participating in the show by going to http://www.rockyhorror.com/participation/. The website also lists when and where the movie and stage shows will be playing, among other handy factoids.)

A couple of other ways you can tie into the “Horror” phenomenon:

  1. Do an on-air trivia contest featuring your town’s biggest superfan (ask for candidates on the air).
  2. Play clips from the movie on the air and ask your audience to identify the character(s) in the clip.

WAR OF THE WORLDS. We did some research and it seems that the recording of the original “War of the worlds” broadcast is free to use:

According to several sources, the copyright is in the public domain, so no permission is needed. According to Wikimedia,

This work is in the public domain because it was published in the United States between 1923 and 1963 and although there may or may not have been a copyright notice, the copyright was not renewed. Unless its author has been dead for the required period, it is copyrighted in the countries or areas that do not apply the rule of the shorter term for U.S. works, such as Canada (50 pma), Mainland China (50 pma, not Hong Kong or Macao), Germany (70 pma), Mexico (100 pma), Switzerland (70 pma), and other countries with individual treaties.

United States copyright law does not protect sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972. Most U.S. states protect the common law copyright to these recordings, but this principle has so far only been applied regarding copyright in New York. Uploading, downloading, or copying the file in New York State may constitute infringement of copyright. On February 15, 2067, United States copyright law will supersede state law and the recording will enter the public domain.

Recordings of copyrighted musical compositions etc., cannot be freely used, but it is asserted that this sound recording not based on copyrighted material can currently be considered public domain in the United States generally, except in New York, and in other countries where it has not been separately copyrighted. Files bearing this tag may be deleted in the future, depending on the outcome of community discussions and new case law.

Note, however, that the script for the radio play is still under copyright, so you can use the recording, just can’t remake it.

The broadcast is available online at https://bit.ly/2wYRjgL.

CANDY CORN TRIVIA. Did you know that more than 35 million pounds of candy corn are produced each year—enough to circle the moon nearly four times if laid end-to-end? Candy corn—a.k.a. Indian corn—was created in the 1880s by George Renninger of the Philadelphia, PA-based Wunderle Candy Company. The three colors of the candy—a broad yellow end, a tapered orange center, and a pointed white tip—mimic the appearance of kernels of corn. Each piece is approximately three times the size of a real kernel from a ripe or dried ear. Google “candy corn trivia” and you’ll end up with more than enough amazing candy corn data to drive a fun Halloween-themed on-air promotion.

HALLOWEEN TRIVIA. Did you know that trick-or-treating in America was originally a Thanksgiving activity? Or that the Irish potato famine played a major role in the arrival of Halloween celebrations in North America? These are just a couple of fascinating facts you can find by Googling— Yep, you guessed it—“Halloween trivia.”

DUCT TAPE HALLOWEEN COSTUMES. Encourage your listeners to make their own costumes using duct tape. (You’re not going to believe this, but all you have to do is Google “duct tape halloween costumes” to unearth a treasure trove of ideas.) Have them show up, in costume, at a local venue, sponsor location, parking lot, or the radio station. Have local celebrities do the judging. Serve candy corn and Bloody Marys (virgin, of course).

BEST HALLOWEEN HOUSE DECORATIONS. Do a competition judged by a local blue- ribbon panel or listenrs. Conduct a “Tour of Terror” of the winning homes.

BLACK CAT SINGS THE CALLS. This is a fun promotion that gets media attention. Your station gives a cash or merchandise prize to the owner of a black cat (or any cat, for that matter) that can sing the station call letters. Make it a station event where contestants and other listeners come to participate. Goofy but fun.

CANINE COSTUME PARTY. It’s one thing to do a Halloween costume party for people, but how about one for dogs? You’ll attract lots of pet owners, have a lot of fun, and probably generate some press as well.

FRIGHT NIGHT. Sponsor an invitation-only Halloween costume party at a local spot. During the month of October, give away pairs of tickets to the 13th caller when they hear a fright sound (cackle, scream, creaking door) or part of a Halloween song. At the event, award prizes for the best, worst, scariest and most creative costumes.

GLOWING EYES. If you wear contact lenses, ask your optometrist for Fluorescein; soak your lenses in it; put them under a black light for an hour or so, and your eyes will glow in the dark.

HALLOWEEN COSTUME COMPETITION. You can do this among adults. . .kids. . .even pets.

HALLOWEEN HOUSE. Starting a week before the 31st, start giving clues about where the WXXX Halloween House is located. Trick-or-treaters ask, “Is this the WXXX Halloween House?” Award special “treats” to those who ask at the designated house.

HALLOWEEN PARADE is done as a huge event with lots of sponsor tie-ins. Listeners come in costume for an evening of food, beverages and fun. This is a great downtown event: stores can stay open and give special deals and free goodies.

HAUNTED BUS. This can be sponsored by your local transportation company. Decorate the interior of the bus and painted Halloween designs on the outside. Families walk through the bus and receive treats as they leave.

HORRIBLE PARTY. Throw a big Halloween party at a local venue. Families are encouraged to come in costume for trick-or-treating, games, and a storyteller telling ghost stories. The candy, bags and prizes are supplied by participating sponsors.

HORROR FILM FESTIVAL. Work with a local theater to present a Midnight show or matinee consisting of old horror films. The rights to these are cheap or free. Or do it yourself at a room at the library. If you go that route, pop up some popcorn and give it away, or work with a local food vendor to supply snacks.

HORROR FILM PRIZES. Pick up some old horror films in the discount bin of the local video store and use them for prizes.

I HEAR DEAD PEOPLE. Have your morning show play only songs by dead people.

I VANT YOUR BLOOD. Run a blood drive around Halloween—reminding listeners that the blood they give must be their own!

KXXX TRICK OR TREATER. A costumed character parades around town on Halloween day, giving goodies to people who identify the KXXX Trick or Treater. On the air, give clues to the character’s identity, and where he or she will be.

MALL CRAWL. Give away your own treat-filled bags at a local mall. Fill the bags with candy, station goodies, and coupons from stores in the mall. (Don’t forget the entertainment—magicians, clowns, sports figures.)

MCGRUFF HALLOWEEN BAGS. The National Crime Prevention Council has trick-or-treat bags featuring McGruff the Crime Dog and his Halloween safety tips. They can be imprinted with your station logo. For more information, visit their website.

PUMPKIN DROP. After Halloween, have listeners bring their “used” pumpkins to a big sponsor’s parking lot. Rent a crane and drop the pumpkins. Biggest splash wins, or mark off the lot and award prizes to each participant based on where the pumpkin lands.

PUMPKIN PARTIES. Line up several establishments in your area and throw simultaneous costume parties simultaneously, with rotating live reports from all of them. If you don’t have enough jocks or want to go in a different direction, hire a Pumpkin Party Bus to hit each location.

PUMPKIN PARTY. Right before Halloween, have a pumpkin-carving contest where listeners must include your call letters somewhere on the pumpkin. Have the listeners bring the completed jack-o-lanterns to a certain venue (mall, downtown area, etc.) to put on display; shoppers vote for the scariest, funniest, most original, etc. Your personalities can award prizes during a special ceremony.

THROW A BIG HALLOWEEN PARTY at a local venue. Families are encouraged to come in costume for trick-or-treating, games, and a storyteller telling ghost stories. The candy, bags and prizes are supplied by participating sponsors.

TOUR OF TERROR. Have listeners decorate their homes with a Halloween theme and award prizes for the best, worst, most creative, most ornate, etc.

TREAT BAG X-RAYS. Sponsor treat bag X-rays in cooperation with a local hospital.

TRICK OR TREAT BAGS. This is a great way to offer clients added value with their regular radio buy. Have plastic bags imprinted with your station’s logo and those of co-sponsors. You can either do bags that are specific to Halloween (black and orange, pumpkin graphic, etc.) or something more generic that you can use for other events and shows.

TRICK-OR-TREAT BULLETIN BOARD. Compile and post on your website and/or read on the air a list of malls and downtown areas in your market that are doing trick-or-treating; ditto the Haunted Houses in the area.

TRICK OR TREAT STREET. Sell an on-air campaign to a real estate developer along with a promotion where children trick or treat on the streets of the developer’s model home development. Sell schedules to toy and snack vendors and anyone else who wants to get in on the fun. Tie in a public library and book stores by having them read ghost stories at houses along the route. Promote the event on-air as a safe way for parents to take their kids trick-or-treating. Print up treat bags with your station and the sponsor’s logo on them. Allow sponsors to coupon, too.

TRICK OR TREAT HOUSE. Line up local sponsors. In advance, pick out several “WXXX Trick or Treat Houses” around town, telling listeners when they are trick-or-treating, to ask at each house, “Is this the WXXX Trick or Treat House?” If it is, they receive a prize from the co-sponsor.

TRICK OR TREAT. When listeners hear the doorbell sound effect on the air, they call the station to either be “tricked” or “treated.” Each person who calls can win a prize (like a bag of Halloween candy and a 2-liter bottle of Pepsi).

TRICK OR TREATER. This is a variation on the “WXXX House” from above. A costumed character parades around town on Halloween day, giving goodies to people who identify the KXXX Trick or Treater.

TRICKS OR DIAMONDS. WQNY, Ithaca, NY scared up this unique promotion for October, an off-season month for the jewelry business. The station held a “Rock-toberfest” which ties in a jewelry store and a hotel lounge/club. The promotion was a success for the station and the participating sponsors because of the creativity of the promotion. Listeners call in for a chance to win “Q-Rocks,” smooth stones painted with the station logo. The rocks are good for free admission to the exclusive Rock-tober party hosted by the station at the sponsoring hotel/club. Because the festival is held in October, the party includes a Halloween-themed “best dressed rock” costume contest. The person whose Q-Rock is judged the most creatively adorned wins the grand prize—loose gems from the participating jewelry store.

Thanksgiving Promotions

MEN’S DAY. “Men’s Day at Champion Chevrolet” takes place the day after Thanksgiving, the biggest shopping day of the year, to attract men to the dealership. The angle is, “Don’t be a wimp and follow your wife around at the mall this year. Be a real man and come test-drive a truck at Champion Chevrolet with other men!” We set up a big-screen TV so no one will miss any football games. Everyone can register to win the TV, and we throw in other man-type prizes like season basketball tickets and gift certificates to a local men’s shop.MEN’S DAY. “Men’s Day at Champion Chevrolet” takes place the day after Thanksgiving, the biggest shopping day of the year, to attract men to the dealership. The angle is, “Don’t be a wimp and follow your wife around at the mall this year. Be a real man and come test-drive a truck at Champion Chevrolet with other men!” We set up a big-screen TV so no one will miss any football games. Everyone can register to win the TV, and we throw in other man-type prizes like season basketball tickets and gift certificates to a local men’s shop.

DINNER ON THE MAYFLOWER. Arrange with your local/regional Mayflower mover to award a sumptuous catered dinner in one of their moving vans. Get your town’s best restaurant to supply the food and the service. Get your town’s best decorator to fix up the inside of the van.

FILL THE MAYFLOWER. Listeners are invited to come to sponsor locations and donate non-perishable food items for the needy. The radio station broadcasts live remotes at the sponsor locations daily from mid-November through Thanksgiving. The goal is to fill a 48-foot Mayflower moving van with food, all of which goes to a local food- distribution charity. Tie in your local/regional Mayflower company. Then sell sponsorships to any and all businesses: sponsors get participation in all signage, on-air promotional announcements, and a remote from their businesses.

LEFT-OVER WEEKEND. After Thanksgiving, since everyone is thinking “left-overs” anyway, clean out your prize closet and get rid of left-over promotional items from the past year.

THE DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING is a monster sales day for most retailers. Go to the biggest department store in your town and help them stretch that sales volume back to Wednesday. Sell an all-day pre-Thanksgiving radio remote. Do the “Mountain of Coke” or other promotion encouraging people to stop in and pick up their soft drinks for the holiday…and also enjoy after-Thanksgiving special prices before Thanksgiving at the department store.

TURKEY SHOOT. Have listeners write in to win a free Thanksgiving turkey from a participating sponsor. Sell advertisers a “Turkey Shoot” package consisting of a certain number of ads, and each sponsor has a turkey given away in their name during the contest. Make up a rotating cart with various animal sound effects—a duck, a goat, and so on, along with a turkey. (For an extra fillip, put a cuckoo clock on the tape as well.) Select cards from all those submitted by listeners, call them and put them on the air. The jock asks if they’re ready to “go turkey hunting,” plays a shotgun sound effect, then plays the animal-sounds tape. If the turkey sound comes up, the player wins a turkey; if it’s another sound, the player wins a consolation prize. Variations on the theme: have listeners call in to win, or have them register at participating sponsor locations or online.

HOLIDAY GREETINGS. Start selling your holiday greeting announcements ahead of the pack. Telemarket a combination Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s package in early November. Then rework the unsold inventory in early to mid-December for Christmas and New Year’s only.

GO AFTER IT. Think about working with folks in these product categories and who sell these products:

GroceriesTurkey farmsDecorationsTravelRestaurantsBakeriesHoney-baked hamApple cider farmsHay rides Rentals (tables, chairs, party goods)

Rental cars (for family visitors)Photo shopsSantaChristmas shopping THANKSGIVING DINNER RECIPES. In the two weeks prior to Thanksgiving, have listeners call the station on cue to record their favorite tips and recipes for preparing the traditional holiday turkey and all the trimmings. Suggest in the promos that listeners write down their tips and recipes before calling in so they’ll be prepared to record. Line up a grocery store to sponsor the call-in segments and to provide callers with small prizes or coupons for free merchandise. On the air, play back the calls, surrounding them with a sponsorship billboard and the store’s commercial. Going one step further, line up a catering service to provide a full turkey dinner on Thanksgiving to the winner of a random drawing from all those who submitted tips and recipes—and the caterer prepares all dishes using the recipes submitted.

BOWLING WITH TURKEYS. At a local bowling alley, participants bowl with actual frozen turkeys (make sure they are well wrapped!). winners receive a turkey and other dinner items like stuffing, cranberries, etc. a local supermarket makes a good sponsor here. Try tying in meat company coupons for free bowling.

CARE FOR A DRUMSTICK? Here’s an idea developed by a Bay Area radio station: with the Thanksgiving season coming up why not hold an out of the ordinary fundraiser for your town’s local food shelter by auctioning off drumsticks. No, not drumsticks served with gravy and cranberries, but authentic drumsticks from some of the world’s most famous rockers. Do the bidding on-air, but please explain rules explicitly before the auction as well as during.

SPOT WXXX’S GOBBLE. During Thanksgiving season many stations give away turkeys, so why not put a twist on the promotion to stand out from your competition? In the weeks prior to Thanksgiving, invite your listeners to phone in and “gobble” on the air. Record all gobblers on tape along with their identification. During the three days prior to Thanksgiving, play a gobble every hour (without revealing the identity of the “turkey”). If the listeners who originally made the recordings recognize their voices, they must call the station and properly identify themselves to win a free turkey.

Summer’s Coming

sun-radioARE YOU SMARTER THAN A DJ? This could be on-air call-ins or on-site at a sponsor location. Get a local educator to come up with the questions, so it is unbiased; get Staples, Wal-Mart or some other typical back-to-school shopping site to sign on as sponsor. The sponsor buys a schedule and kicks in gift certificates for the winners for back-to-school shopping.

Of course, there are no losers. If the DJ wins, the gift certificate goes to a local program that purchases school supplies for the needy. If the person (could be a child or adult) competing against the DJ wins, their gift certificate goes to the same charity and they get a station T-Shirt, fast food or ice cream gift certificates. Of course, if the person wins they get the sponsor’s gift certificate. Listeners register at sponsor sites or on the station website.

BARBEQUE ON THE BIRD. Give away a full-service Father’s Day barbeque, complete with a La-Z-Boy recliner and a new barbeque grill for Dad. Listeners register by saying why their dad is a most deserving to win. Grand Prize and first and second place winners are selected by volunteer judges.

BUST INTO SUMMER. Invite listeners to register for two free bus trips—an inexpensive way to have summer fun—to attractions roughly two hours away. Sponsors receive added-value mentions during promotional announcements, plus point-of-purchase registration materials. The promotion runs eight weeks.

CAR SHOW. It’s a story right out of American Graffiti. Our local Classic Chevy Club has held a car show in a local park for many years. The night before their show, they do a “cruise” which includes a stop by the radio station parking lot, where we do a live all-request Oldies show that night. We sell sponsorships with commercials running in the broadcast of the car show. Along with these sponsorships, we have full-blown sponsorships of vendors participating with food and other goods, car detailers, parts stores and other auto-related types of businesses, insurance companies and more.

Our Oldies show has become a street dance in the middle of all the classic cars. Sponsors provide prizes; we sell and give away “car show” t-shirts, balloons, hats and other things along with collectors dashboard plaques which each car entry receives and collects; we even have a “listener appreciation” award (an actual trophy and cash) that the spectators vote on their favorite car.

CELEBRITY BACKYARD BBQ. Listeners register at participating businesses. They can win a barbeque at their home, during which the station provides food and beverages for the winning family, 10 of their friends and the station on-air team. Barbeques are in May, June, and July. We post a promo with picture on the home page of our website, along with pictures of the current barbeque. Each winner gets to keep the grill.

CELL PHONE CONTEST. Work with a local cellular provider. Listeners call a designated line to leave a message with their name and where they are calling from. The listener who calls on their vacation from the greatest distance wins “a vacation while being on vacation by calling the [company] Wireless Travel Line.” The caller from the greatest distance wins a long weekend getaway, including hotel, tickets to attractions, dinners, and $1,000 cash. We use the messages from the callers for on-air promos, which sound great. (The wireless carrier can determine that each call actually comes from the claimed destination.)

CHARITY BIKER. Have one of your jocks take a bike ride along a regional route for charity; solicit pledges. Invite listeners to join the ride.

CONCERTS IN THE PARK. If your community has a Noontime concert series or a “Live at Five,” get involved. It’s an opportunity to expose your station to lots of people. If your community doesn’t have such a Summertime series, your station can be a hero by organizing one.

COUNTY FAIR. Do live broadcasts from your County Fair, brought to you by participating advertisers. Some will be regular big spenders who get included as part of their annual contracts, but the rest all buy 60 thirty-second ads and a dozen promos and live mentions during the broadcast.

DUNK A JOCK. One of the oldest tricks in the book, this one still hits homers at remotes and fairs. Set up a dunk tank and invite attendees to dunk one of your popular personalities; all proceeds go to charity.

END OF SUMMER BLOW-OUT. If you have a clothing store anywhere near you—an increasing rarity, we admit—try this one: in the ad copy, say your station’s general manager or morning jock dropped by the store and dropped a business card into the pocket of one outfit. The first listener who finds the card gets the outfit, in his or her size, absolutely free!

GET THE JOCK DRUNK. This perennial favorite can be great radio, and works especially well around the July 4 weekend. Have a DUI officer from the local cops and/or a local physician administer measured doses of alcohol (the official unit is “a shot”) to the jock every half hour or hour, and then give him or her various drunk-driving tests. The jock will get a little wacky, of course, which makes for good radio; trust the experienced radio person’s natural inhibitions from getting too wacky. This “educational” broadcast always creates a ton of street talk.

GIANT STICK-UP. A great way to distribute those bumper stickers and please a client, too: Announce a big “stick-up day” at a local parking lot. Every car that comes in gets a sticker affixed to its bumper (by permission, of course) and becomes an instant winner of a variety of prizes—station logo items, sponsor items, fast-food certificates and so on.

HOT SPOT. During the hottest months of the summer, offer to pay utility bills (up to a certain amount) to families who submit winning tips on saving energy. This is sponsored by the local utility company, who credits the winners’ bills in return for sponsorship mentions.

HOTTEST SUMMER PRIZE: TRAVEL. Two-thirds of all Americans take a summer vacation trip of 100 miles or more. To build interest in your summer promotions, give away a getaway.

INTERNET SAFETY FAIR. Objective: Prevention through education of Internet dangers. Target: Parents and the “tweener” generation most vulnerable to Internet predators. Partner with the state Attorney General’s office, local school districts and local law enforcement agencies to host a school assembly; classroom break-out; hands-on workshop; and after-school social and discussion with sponsors, parents and students. Sponsors: local hospital, Internet service provider and telephone company sponsors.

LIFE’S A BEACH. Even if you’re landlocked, you can have a day at the beach. Convert a downtown block, town square, parking lot or what-have-you into a beach, complete with sand, bands, contests, food and drink, fashion shows and more. Begin the music at Noon, using local talent for a full day of music. Set up a dunk tank, bikini contest, Mr. Muscle contest, “most creative sand castle” competition and other seaside staples. Work with a local beverage distributor and other local sponsors to make it happen.

MIDNIGHT MOVIE EXPRESS. Even in these days of corporate-controlled small-town theaters, there are still plenty of opportunities to work with the local manager to put on a series of Midnight movies—booking older classics or newer art films, depending on your market. Give out “Midnight Movie Express Cards” and punch them each time the cardholder attends. After nine punches, the tenth Midnight movie is free. Get the theater to put a slide with your call letters in its sequence. You can also do drawings to give away passes to the theater’s regular fare.

MUD FEST AND LUAU. In conjunction with the County Fair, create a two-inch-deep mud pit on the rodeo grounds. Hold mud football, tug of war, muddiest kid contest, obstacle course, sand castle contest—and of course a wild mud pig race—in the mud pit. Include a Hawaiian Luau, complete with a Polynesian cooked pig, tropical drinks and the loudest Hawaiian shirt contest.

PARADIO. Broadcast live from parades at area celebrations. Use two-person teams to do the broadcasts.

POOL PATROL. Mobilize your staff to hit area public pools to give away logo items, CDs and other small prizes—often provided by sponsors (supermarkets, beverage distributors, etc.). Staff should wear logo tees and caps. On the air, in advance, promote where you’ll be. When you arrive on the scene, do a phoner back to the station. (If you’re automated, pre-tape the call and drop it into a stopset.)

ROLLING WEDDING. If your County Fair has a roller-coaster, commandeer it for a “rolling wedding.” The official (minister, priest, whatever) gives the vows via headsets to the lucky couples seated in the coaster seats.

SECRET SUMMER STASH. Every weekday, your station broadcasts a clue an hour to a prize in the Secret Stash. The listener who first guesses one of the prizes gets a Summer-themed mini-stash prize: a beach towel (better if it has your logo on it), swimwear and a CD. The first listener to name all ten Summer-related prizes wins them all.

STREET HITS. A personality takes your station vehicle to a busy intersection or a popular shopping area. The jock then calls back to the station and goes on the air, saying he or she will be at such-and-such location for the next 10 minutes, and the first (insert your frequency here) people to stop by get a free six-pack of (insert sponsor nonalcoholic beverage here), logo items, movie passes, etc.

SUMMER CRUISE. Chances are, you’re close enough to a lake, ocean or river to do this. Chances are, there’s a gambling boat on said body of water. Chances are, you can work with the boat to mount a bus trip thereto (if it’s more than an hour away) or just give away tickets to featured entertainment on the boat. (They just want bodies on board to gamble.)

SUMMER SURVIVOR. Listeners enter at sponsor locations to compete in a series of “Summery” activities at a big live event in a local park to win an ATV or one of many other prizes as part of the sponsorship packages.The contestants are pre-selected on-air to compete in silly variations of such things as miniature golf, horseshoes, shuffleboard, basketball shooting, as well as more offbeat games like frisbee targets, watermelon-eating, “crab-walking” through tires—the wackier the better. Each contestant must sign a waiver of liability before participating.

The sponsor investment includes a schedule of commercials to run throughout the Summer, hundreds of promos, entry materials, posters, signage at the live broadcast at the event, and logo on the tee shirts worn by the contestants. Sponsors provide prizes ranging from audio and sporting equipment to food and gift certificates, awarded to the other contestants.

TICKET GIVE-AWAY REMOTES. Trade a bunch of tickets to see a popular act in your format who’s performing in the region. Any advertisers who purchase a live broadcast event before the concert will get a drawing during the remote to give away two concert tickets—if the contestant contacts the station within 10 minutes of hearing his/her name on the radio during the remote—plus two tickets for the advertisers’ own use. Also, give tickets away on your website and during listener call-in promotions on the air.

VISIBLE VAULT. Rig up or buy a two-foot-square Plexiglas box with a combination lock on it. Fill it with $1 bills. Take it to remotes. During a remote, any listener who correctly guesses the combination and opens the vault keeps the cash.

WHEEL OF HOPE. Does your county fair feature a Ferris Wheel? Have one of your personalities take a marathon ride for charity—eating, sleeping and broadcasting from the wheel. Take pledges.

First-Quarter Promotions

calendarJANUARY: CHRISTMAS IN JANUARY. If you’re thinking about throwing a holiday party for your advertisers, why not make it a “Christmas in January” party, when you and they aren’t so busy?

JANUARY: GUILTY PLEASURES. Most people feel guilty about spending too much money and eating too much food during the holiday season. So in January it’s a good idea to target groups like weight-loss and smoke-ending programs, self-help books and tapes, and other such organizations and activities.

JANUARY: HALF PRICE CARNIVAL. Set up a special trade show to which each participating merchant brings only items to sell at 50% off list price. This is good for clothing and other soft-goods retailers in January—one of their slowest months.

JANUARY: ONE TON CLUB. Since losing weight is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, have your morning show recruit a group of listeners to pledge collectively to lose a ton—2,000 pounds—by March 31. This is a perfect tie-in for a local weight-loss center. Each week they check in and report, and the jock totals the pounds lost on the air. Everybody reaching the goal receives a certificate of merit for new clothes that fit the new body. If the group reaches the one-ton goal, throw a party catered by the sponsor, or give away trial memberships at a fitness center.

JANUARY: PHOTOGRAPHER’S SPECIAL. Suggest to a local portrait studio that they offer a special Valentine’s Day price for portraits—if the sitting takes place in January. This is promoted with a schedule on your station, of course!

JANUARY: SNOWBLOWER CONTEST. Work a deal with a local dealer for the use of a snowblower for a morning; say that only the motor will be used for an hour or so—the unit will show no signs of wear. When the forecast calls for a big snowfall overnight, pick up the snowblower. On the morning show, start the snowblower on the air and invite listeners to call and guess the exact time that the thing will run out of gas. The personality can do frequent “gas checks” throughout the show to prime the pump for more guesses (and the motor will be running in the background whenever the personality opens the mike). The closest guess wins a snow shovel, also donated by the dealer.

JANUARY: SUPERBOWL PARTY. Invite listeners to attend the event at a local sports-watching venue. Have station party favors, contests, appearances by your air talent and perhaps local sports figures. Tie in lots of advertisers for revenue, prizes and participation.

JANUARY: WINTER LIQUIDATION. Stores are clearing out snowblowers, shovels, winter clothes, winter implements. Help them!

JANUARY-FEBRUARY: CABIN FEVER GETAWAY. Arrange a cruise on a riverboat for two. Place registration blanks and point of purchase displays at participating sponsors. Feature discounted items from sponsoring businesses to generate traffic.

JANUARY-FEBRUARY: NICKEL SPOT SALE. Schedule this for the last two weeks of January and the first two weeks of February—for each extra ad the advertiser buys, he or she gets the second for five cents. To promote it, send a direct mail piece with a nickel; copy: “WXXX is having a 5-cent sale. We’ll buy your first nickel spot.”

JANUARY-FEBRUARY: WINTER CARNIVAL. Advertisers who buy a January-February schedule get tickets to the “Winter Carnival,” a dinner party preceded by a prize giveaway. Everybody wins: There are balloons for all participants; everybody picks one, punctures it, and finds the name of his/her prize inside. The prizes are all nice, but they vary in value.

JANUARY-MARCH: ALWAYS BUY [YOUR AREA] MONTH. Coordinate with companies that are owned and operated in your region to present a salute to local products and services. Run a trivia contest about the region, with the prizes supplied by these local businesses.

JANUARY-MARCH: EXPO SHOWS. Now is the time to plan one or more revenue-generating shows—Bridal Fair, Fitness Fair, Home Show, Outdoor Expo, Farm Fair, etc. Sell booths and line up entertainment (jugglers, magicians, mimes, etc.) to add to the atmosphere.

JANUARY-MARCH: GOTCHA CARD. Give this to any business “caught” listening to your station. It’s a coupon good for $100 in radio advertising.

JANUARY-MARCH: HOMEMAKERS SCHOOL. Held at a high school auditorium, the event features free admission, new recipes, on-stage promotion and hundreds of dollars in door prizes. Related sponsors set up tables and booths to display their products and services.

FEBRUARY: LOVE CONNECTION. For Valentine’s Day, work a deal with the local phone company to set up telephones at a high-traffic location, and allow listeners to place three-minute calls for free.

FEBRUARY: VALENTINE GREETINGS. Set up an answering machine and let listeners call in dedications for playback on Valentine’s Day. The outgoing message on the machine can include a plug for a participating sponsor, who also gets mentions on the promos. Turn this into a contest by awarding some of the callers prizes appropriate to the day.

MARCH: SPRING CLEANING. Callers register for a chance to win a free deep cleaning for their home or business, provided by a local sponsoring janitorial or housekeeping service.

Evergreen Holiday Promotions

tree-tower“FOR KIDS ONLY” SHOP can be established within retail locations for the holidays. Set up low tables divided into categories: for Mom, Dad, Sis, Brother, Grandma, Grandpa, and “someone special.” Most of the gifts on each table cost under $5.00. Set up a separate table with free gift wrap so the kids can wrap their own gifts.

$5 FOR $4. A Kentucky discount store operator created a lot of talk, a lot of traffic, and a huge Saturday during a slow week in January by announcing he was selling $5 bills for $4. The offer was limited to the first 500 shoppers.

ANGEL TREE. Angel Trees are placed in ten locations around the market, including a restaurant, department stores, discount stores, a gas station, a church, the post office and the radio station. Listeners visit one of the locations and pick an angel from the tree; each angel contains the first name of a needy child or an elderly citizen, and the gifts they would like to receive. Listeners then purchase a gift and take it to the service desk of the location, or to the radio station. The station then arranges for the Salvation Army to make sure the right gifts go to the right “angels.”

BAD WEATHER DISCOUNT. When a sudden storm threatened his special “marathon” sale, an appliance dealer in upstate New York ran a heavy radio schedule offering discounts 10% below the sale prices printed in his newspaper ad. (He had a great day, needless to say.)

CABIN FEVER GETAWAY. Arrange a cruise on a riverboat for two. Place registration blanks and point of purchase displays at participating sponsors. Feature discounted items from sponsoring businesses to generate traffic.

CD CALENDAR. Take a CD jewel case, and make up 12 calendar pages, 4¾ inches square, one for each month, with your logo on each month. (If you want to get really creative, feature a picture of a different station activity or jock on each page.) Insert the pages into the CD case so the first month is displayed. Each month, remove the top page to go to the next month.

CHESTNUTS ROASTING. Many shopping areas find that selling traditional hot chestnuts on the street or in the mall during the season is very popular—and quite profitable, too!

CHRISTMAS WISH. There are many variations on this theme, but the basic idea is this: Listeners submit letters describing their Christmas wish and saying why they deserve it. Your station selects the most worthy recipients and produces spots with the announcer reading a letter, followed by a taped phone conversation in which the sender’s wish is granted. The wishes are handled with the cooperation of area merchants in return for on-air mentions. It is usually best to limit actual sponsorships to one or two major participants—often non-traditional advertisers from your area (manufacturing firms, health care facilities, etc.) that like to get involved in goodwill projects.

CHRISTMAS TRIVIA. Ask questions about Christmas music and films. Award holiday-themed prizes from participating sponsors.

CHRISTMAS AT YOUR HOUSE. Listeners enter at sponsor locations; the winner of the drawing wins a Christmas tree, decorated by your station staff, plus gifts underneath. Air personalities deliver the tree, bring seasonal refreshments, and help the winning family put up decorations.

CHRISTMAS CAROLING. Station staff members (including your air personalities) form a caroling group that makes house calls—including the local hospitals and nursing homes.

COME HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS. Your station invites entries in the form of short essays telling why they want to bring a beloved relative home, or why they want to visit a loved one. Read the best entries on the air, and award the prize to the best entry. Work out the prize details with a local travel agency.

CUSTOMIZED COMPUTER SHOPPER. The customized computer shopper is an excellent revenue generator. It’s especially good for general retail, regional shopping malls, office supply stores and sporting goods. A computer—set up in a mall or inside a specific store—is programmed to offer consumers different shopping options, broken down by demographics. (The most popular categories are gifts for preteens and teenagers.) The shopper enters a selection and, via a word processing or desktop publishing program, the computer gives the shopper several gift ideas. It also indicates on which floor (or in which store) the items are located. In some cases, the retailer charges the manufacturers to be included on the store list. Also, this promotion will appeal to the retailer who stocks “lifestyle gifts” for such hard-to-shop-for people as the businessman, the golfer, the boater, etc.

DESIGNATED DRIVER. Ads for New Year’s Eve events include a message encouraging listeners to make up a party including one non-drinking driver. The non-drinker gets his or her soft drinks and snacks free. The station provides “Designated Driver” badges.

DRINKING & DRIVING. Get source material from local law enforcement agencies for a series of messages stressing responsible drinking. It’s a natural for a telemarketing campaign.

ESTABLISH A “GIFT REGISTRY” where people can leave hints for friends and relatives about what they’d like for Christmas.

EXPO SHOWS. Now is the time to plan one or more revenue-generating shows—Bridal Fair, Fitness Fair, Home Show, Outdoor Expo, Farm Fair, etc. Sell booths and line up entertainment (jugglers, magicians, mimes, etc. – to add to the atmosphere).

FOOD BANK EVENTS. One of the most visible of all charities in most markets is the local food bank, and they especially need your help at this time of year. Contact them and brainstorm your best promotional ideas to solicit cash and cans from your audience.

FURNITURE AND APPLIANCE DEALERS do well with New Year’s Day one-day-only sales. Offer a package including New Year’s Eve sponsorship and ad and remote plans for New Year’s Day.

GIANT TALKING GIFT BOX is painted in Christmas colors and wired for sound. The box talks, tells jokes, sings carols and entertains shoppers. (It can also promote your station or a station contest.)

GIFT-WRAPPED CARS. While auto sales traditionally slack off between Thanksgiving and the new year, aggressive auto dealers are always looking for new ideas to tap the market. Therefore, you might try to sell a car dealer on the idea of not only gift-wrapping—with a huge red bow—any auto purchased during the peak Christmas-buying season, but also providing storage (parking) for the vehicle between the time of purchase and Christmas Eve. This promotion can be effectively used to entice major regional malls into buying radio time, or to secure a disproportionate share of the budget. First, get rates from a local parking company, and build its rates into the sales campaign. Then approach the mall rep, and have him donate a certain number of parking spaces for valet parking. The most popular twist to this promotion: If your car sports a station bumper sticker, pull up for free valet parking.

GIFT EXCHANGE. A Midwestern furniture store offered allowances on unwanted or inappropriate Christmas gifts—no matter where they were bought—toward purchases in his store. Traded gifts were sold at ridiculous prices during a special promotion.

GUILTY PLEASURES. Most people feel guilty about spending too much money and eating too much food during the holiday season. So in January it’s a good idea to target groups like weight-loss and smoke-ending programs, self-help books and tapes, and other such organizations and activities.

HAVE A CONTEST TO FIND THE BEST DECORATED HOMES in your area this Christmas. Arrange tours to view the decorated homes. Award prizes for the best decorations, the most creative, the most number of lights, etc. Work with your Chamber or downtown association, perhaps charging a small fee – donated to charity – for the tours.

HELPING HANDS. To emphasize the helpful and personal attention shoppers receive, produce big badges that say, “I’m Here To Help You!” Retail salespeople, bank tellers and others who meet the public wear the badges throughout the holiday season.

HOLIDAY CONCERT TIE-INS. Most high schools and churches have choirs that will be doing holiday concerts. Tie in with a few of them to “charge” a free-will offering, the proceeds of which could go to the school itself and/or another worthy cause (like the food bank, in which case the free-will offering could be a can of food). In Is wired in as you are to your communities, you should have no trouble at all connecting the dots and coming up with a great win-win situation that brings worthy causes and your listeners together—with your station smack dab in the middle.
HOLIDAY FAVORITES. Have your listeners send you their three favorite holiday songs and post the entries on your website, allowing people to comment on the entries (always moderate your comments so that they must be approved before posting!). Or you could use your Facebook page to post the entries, allowing people to comment, and have them show up on your website in your Facebook widget.

HOLIDAY SHOPPER BABY-SITTING. Set up a baby-sitting service using students at the local high school or college. The students watch over the kids, age two to ten, for a dollar an hour —which is donated to charity.

HOLIDAY HOTLINE. This simple promotion is well suited to a variety of categories, including major department stores and shopping malls. The concept provides shoppers with gift ideas as close as their telephone—all that’s required is a telephone line and answering machine. In the case of a single outlet, featured products or manufacturers are rotated. In a mall setting, various stores are showcased and rotated. One good feature of a holiday hotline is that it gives callers last-minute shopping ideas. In addition, this promotion can be backed up with a point-of-purchase shopping list that’s composed of all featured manufacturers and/or stores.

HOLIDAY MESSAGES. Many stations report that their biggest telemarketing events of the year center on the year-end holidays. For example. . .

HOLIDAY GIFT BOX. The KXXX Holiday Gift Box is placed at sponsor locations, where listeners register for a chance to win gifts and gift certificates. In addition, individual store winners are eligible to win $500 in free long distance phone calls from a participating provider. Participating businesses include an auto body shop, lube center, pet shop, office center, gold and silver shop, appliance store, flower shop, craft shop, electronics store and jeweler.

HOLIDAY GREETINGS. Invite your customers to wish their customers the best of the holiday season. You can have your production department put something together, or have the clients voice their own. (The latter is more effort, but you can probably get more money for it.) Naturally, you’ll use holiday music behind your greetings.

HOLIDAY SAFETY. Your customers can sponsor an important community service—reminding your listeners to exercise care in driving, putting up decorations, checking tree lights, and so on.

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS. Work with a phone carrier and an airline to award a grand prize of a trip home for Christmas and runner-up prizes of free holiday phone calls. [RAB]

HOMEMAKERS SCHOOL. Held at a high school auditorium, the event features free admission, new recipes, on-stage promotion and hundreds of dollars in door prizes. Related sponsors set up tables and booths to display their products and services.

IN-TOWN HOLIDAY PACKAGES. To draw out-of-town shoppers, put retailers and hoteliers together and come up with some special packages—including reduced room rates, deliveries of purchases to the hotel, shuttle buses, restaurant specials and merchandise discounts.

JUST FOR KIDS PARTY. Throw a “Just For Kids” party at a local theater in the afternoon during holiday shopping season. Children get in for a small fee plus a coupon given out by downtown merchants.

KARAOKE CHRISTMAS. Your morning-show host has callers sing along with instrumental versions of well-known Christmas songs. If the caller can complete a verse correctly, he or she wins a prize.

LEFTOVER WEEKEND. After Thanksgiving, clean out your prize closet and get rid of leftover promotional items from the past year.

LET’S TALK TURKEY. KLBK & WDEK invented this promotion when the local Salvation Army was faced with 350 Christmas food baskets to fill. In conjunction with the local weekly newspaper, the stations ran promos asking listeners to donate frozen turkeys and meat products suitable for a family holiday dinner. They ran live remotes 6 a.m.-6 p.m. from the Salvation Army the day of the collection, which is one day prior to their distribution of the food baskets (to avoid storage problems). The first year they did the promotion, we received 1,300 items—turkeys, roasts, geese, venison and one live pig! If anyone does this at another time of year, Dianne suggests the title, “Meat the Need.” [Dianne Leifheit, WLBK/WDEK, DeKalb, IL, 815-758-8686]

LETTERS TO SANTA. Sell four sponsors (at $187.50 per month), November and December billing. Go to all the elementary and pre-schools in the area with a hand-held tape recorder; have all the students and teachers say what they’d like Santa to bring them for Christmas. Play them back on the air, sponsored by the participating merchants. “Response has been overwhelming.” [KRSL/KCAY, Russell, KS, 913-483-3121]

LOUSY GIFT EXCHANGE. After Christmas, have listeners bring in a bad gift and trade it for a good one.

MAKE A “CHILDRENS’ ACTIVITY CENTER” where parents can leave their five-to-twelve-year-olds for up to two hours while they shop. Cookies and hot chocolate can be provided to both parents and children. Volunteers from youth groups (4-H, Boy Scouts, etc.) supervise activities, including a visit from Mrs. Claus, Christmas movies shown on DVD or VCR, arts and crafts, and caroling.

MAKE YOUR OWN ORNAMENTS. Special Christmas trees are set up in bank lobbies. Children in three age groups (under six, 7-9 and 10-12) are invited to make their own ornaments and hang them on the trees. Ornaments are judged in each age group and Savings Bonds are awarded to the winners.

MONEY MAZE. Depending on your budget, you can make this one as big as you want. It’s an old reliable that creates excitement while allowing you to get a big bang from a small budget. And by calculating the odds you can control the number of big prizewinners. Here’s how it works: Caller ten gets to enter the Money Maze. Just for qualifying, they get to keep the entry-level prize no matter what happens. Let’s say we’re FM 107 and caller ten just won $10.70. Now the caller can try for $50 by entering the maze, they have the option of going straight, right, or left. A cart with random cuts will announce the acceptable direction. Let’s say the caller says “straight;” if the random cart says “straight,” the caller wins $50. The caller has the option of keeping the $50 or risking it for the $100 level. (The levels might be $50, $100, $500, and $1,000.) No matter what happens, they at least get to walk away with the original $10.70 prize.

MONEY TREE. We did this in December and it generated us $12,000 extra dollars which is great for a small AM station. We put $1,150 (our frequency) on a Christmas tree in cash—$100’s, $50’s and $20’s. We encased the tree in glass. We signed up sponsors and ran the promotion for three weeks; each sponsor got the tree in his or her business for one day, so customers could see it and register. We ran promos on the air telling where listeners could sign up. We held the drawing from a bank—which was also a sponsor and which housed the tree overnights. This one was good for the clients and their customers; it also got the station a lot of attention. We even got the local newspaper to put the winner’s picture in the paper. It is an easy and very profitable promotion. —Marcella Stuart, WCRK, Morristown, TN, Sweetmeis@aol.com

MOTELS offering special New Year’s weekend packages, including dinner, party, room and breakfast, are good and obvious prospects.

New years and q1 =====================

NEW YEARS GREETINGS. This is a good time for your clients to thank their customers for their business in the past year and wish them a safe and happy new year.

NEW YEAR’S EVE SAFETY. Urge your listeners to be safe, choose a designated driver, etc. on December 31. Your clients sponsor these messages.

NICKEL SPOT SALE. Schedule this for the last two weeks of January and the first two weeks of February—for each extra ad the advertiser buys, he or she gets the second for five cents. To promote it, send a direct mail piece with a nickel; copy: “WXXX is having a 5-cent sale. We’ll buy your first nickel spot.”

NOONTIME MUSIC provided by a downtown or mall association can attract workers from their shops or offices into stores—in a buying mood. Have a different elementary, middle or high school provide the singing every day—ideally next to the shopping area’s big Christmas tree.

OFFER TO PUBLISH THE ANNUAL BUSINESS CALENDAR for your local Chamber of Commerce or business association. List all the key retail sales dates, special town events, holidays and – of course – your station promotions. Distribute the calendar to every business in the area. It will probably be posted, providing year-round promotion for your station.

ONE TON CLUB. Since losing weight is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, have your morning show recruit a group of listeners to pledge collectively to lose a ton—2,000 pounds—by March 31. This is a perfect tie-in for a local weight-loss center. Each week they check in and report, and the jock totals the pounds lost on the air. Everybody reaching the goal receives a certificate of merit for new clothes that fit the new body. If the group reaches the one-ton goal, throw a party catered by the sponsor, or give away trial memberships at a fitness center.

OPERATION WARM. During the month of December, collect coats for the area’s needy. Hook up with sponsors and have listeners drop off the coats and receive discounts in the stores. Line up a dry cleaning establishment to clean the coats as a donation in return for participation in the event. Work with your local Goodwill, Salvation Army or Care & Share to collect the coats from sponsor locations and distribute them to deserving families. [Paul Van Ehlis, KKFM, Colorado Springs, CO, 719-596-5536]

RADIO DAYS. First quarter is the perfect time to hook up with a school or other high visibility community organization to have a “Radio Day.” Members of the group solicit ad buys from local merchants, acknowledging that 50% of all ads sold go to the cause. Group members then take over the airwaves for two, three or four hours to read the ads and talk about the cause. It’s great community radio, especially if kids are involved!

RADIOTHONS. Another holiday-season favorite, devote some number of hours to a fund-raising effort for a local charity. In the bigger markets, they attract celebrities to boost listenership and response, but in your market, you can use local celebrities to do the same thing—your mayor, a big high school or college athlete, a beauty-contest winner or runner-up, the colorful character everybody knows and loves, the witty person everybody wants to emcee their function, etc. For additional visibility, do your radiothon at a mall or heavily-trafficked local business. (Keep in mind that you are better off leveraging traffic that’s already there than attempting to draw traffic on your own.)

RED = 2013

REDUCED-RATE PARKING. A couple of ideas on this: Your station can feed meters during the season, leaving a windshield card telling the shopper that you’ve done so. You can work with local retailers to pay for all or part of the parking lot tab for shoppers, using validation cards (with the station call letters imprinted on them).

SANTA CALLS. Ask listeners for calls or letters that your station can “relay” to Santa at the North Pole. Catch the calls on an answering machine with a credible Santa voice. Select some at random to read or play on the air. Those not read should receive some kind of reply, maybe a nicely-printed form letter on “Santa” stationery.

SANTA’S ARRIVAL can be a big deal, generating the interest of adults and children alike. The better the vehicle, the more publicity: fire engine, antique car, authentic sleigh, a special float in a parade—or your station vehicle. To promote the town’s transit system (if you have one), have Santa arrive by city bus—either in one, with special guests riding along, or in his sleigh riding atop a bus.

SANTA’S IN-BOX. Set up a section of your web site where kids can e-mail their gift lists to Santa. (When you post the lists on the site, be sure to use only first names and ages.) When dealing with kids, be sure you conform to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act; to get more information, visit www.ftc.gov/ogc/coppa1.htm and www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/kidzprivacy.

SET UP A “HOLIDAY HOUSE” in a vacant store or other convenient location in a shopping area. Shoppers will appreciate a place to sit down and rest and to enjoy holiday refreshments. This is also a good place to visit Santa and have a picture taken. . .to have gifts wrapped. . .and to check that Gift Registry.

SET UP A FREE GIFT-WRAP SERVICE in a central shopping location (at a mall and/or downtown). This is a service to the shoppers, but also to the merchants – their staff is relieved of the chore and able to serve more customers. Wrapping materials can be supplied by the downtown group or mall association, while a senior citizens group can be recruited to do the wrapping. A variation: charge a nominal amount—perhaps tied to your frequency—and donate it to a local charity.

SHOPPING TRANSPORTATION can be offered free or at reduced rates during the season, both among shops and shopping areas, and between a shopping area and outlying residential locations.

SMRN subscribers can view and download the telemarketing messages at http://www.smallmarketradio.com/subsonly/telemarketing.htm

SNOWBLOWER CONTEST. Work a deal with a local dealer for the use of a snowblower for a morning; say that only the motor will be used for an hour or so – the unit will show no signs of wear. When the forecast calls for a big snowfall overnight, pick up the snowblower. On the morning show, start the snowblower on the air and invite listeners to call and guess the exact time that the thing will run out of gas. The personality can do frequent “gas checks” throughout the show to prime the pump for more guesses (and the motor will be running in the background whenever the personality opens the mike). The closest guess wins a snow shovel, also donated by the dealer.

SPONSOR A BUSINESS OPEN HOUSE in early December, perhaps on a Saturday and Sunday. Merchants advertise on the air and send invitations to their mailing lists, inviting people to “Experience the special magic of a hometown Christmas.” Stores welcome their “guests” in the Christmas spirit and serve refreshments.

SPRING ANTICIPATION. Now is the time to get to the garden shops, boating stores, pool shops and implement dealers. Help them set up their marketing and beat your competition.

STORE HOURS HOTLINE. Since most shopping areas have trouble agreeing on uniform shopping hours during the holidays, set up a special phone number that shoppers can call—the “Christmas Shopper’s Hotline”—to get the hours for stores they want to patronize. Use either live operators or an interactive system.

STOREFRONT DECORATION CONTEST. In conjunction with your downtown association, chamber or mall association, hold a competition among area businesses. Have listeners vote on the best-decorated stores; their votes also count as entries to win prizes.

SUPER BOWL PARTY. Invite listeners to attend the event at a local sports-watching venue. Have station party favors, contests, appearances by your air talent and perhaps local sports figures. Tie in lots of advertisers for revenue, prizes and participation.

TAKE A RIDE HOME ON US. Broadcast announcements beginning December 26 advising listeners to call the station for a free cab ride home from a New Year’s Eve party or bar if they think they’ve had too much to drink to drive safely. The station pays the local cab company a flat fee for the service between 6 p.m. and 3 a.m.

THE CHRISTMAS TOY HUNTER. Get to the local stores and make deals for a stock of the hot toys (we spent about $250 in trade). Hold onto them until about two weeks before Christmas. Then announce on the air that you can help your listeners avoid the toy-store crunch, because your station has the hottest toys. Give away a toy a day on the morning show for two weeks, playing “Twenty Questions” with callers who have been unable to find a certain toy: “Is it for a boy or a girl?”. . .”Does it require batteries?”. . .and so on. One station operator who ran this promotion told us, “To our luck, no matter what toy it was, the winner had been unable to find it and had just about given up. Needless to say, the response was tremendous!”

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. On the twelfth day before Christmas, one prize is awarded to a listener. . .on the eleventh day, two prizes are awarded to one listener. . .and so on, until twelve prizes are awarded to a single listener on Christmas Day. The giveaways can be triggered by playing a certain holiday song, or when callers are asked for, or from a drawing of point-of-purchase entries, etc.

TOY FACTORY. Businesses were invited to enroll to donate toys to give to needy kids during the holiday season. Each business was called a “toy factory” and would organize the event among its employees, setting up donation boxes, holding competitions among departments, and so on. Participating businesses would in turn compete among themselves for the most number of toys donated. The event was promoted on the radio station and on its web site. The station sold remote broadcasts to other, non-traditional community-minded businesses.

TOYS FOR THE NEEDY. Encourage holiday shoppers to contribute toys for the needy (clean, repairable toys). Downtown retailers and other businesses serve as drop-off points for the toys; the businesses then take the toys to a special pick-up point for the Salvation Army, United Way, etc., to collect and distribute.

TRIM-A-TREE CONTEST. Non-profit clubs and organizations are invited to enter the contest. Trees are set up in stores, offices, building lobbies and so on; they are then decorated by the sponsoring non-profit groups. A team of judges select the five best trees, and the winning groups win cash prizes.

TURKEY STUFF. Another worthwhile endeavor is to supply holiday meals to needy families. Partner with a local food market to get the fixings, and with your local Salvation Army or Goodwill outlet to select the families. You could also solicit nominations for deserving families from your listeners.

WINTER LIQUIDATION. Stores are clearing out snowblowers, shovels, winter clothes, winter implements. Help them!

YEAR-LONG CONTEST. Most stations run contests of various sorts throughout the year. The prizes in most small markets are fairly inexpensive. If you were to pool the entries from all those small contests, a year from now you could award, say, a $1,000 bill at a prorated cost of $83.33 per month. Set up a special interest-bearing account and make a monthly deposit. It’ll keep contest players interested. And a year from now you’ll have something exciting for your listeners.

[MARKET]’S OFFICIAL CHRISTMAS STATION. Many stations around the country are staking out holiday territory by declaring themselves their market’s “Official Christmas Station,” starting to play Christmas music earlier than everyone else, and playing either 100 percent holiday music or a very rich blend thereof.

[YOUR STATION] CARES. More than a clever slogan, this moniker can be a theme for a year-long fund-raising event for one or a series of worthy causes. You can modify the theme to fit each of a series of fund-raising efforts: “KXXX Cares for Kids” (raise money for food or clothing for underprivileged youth). . .“WYYY Cares for Seniors” (collect space heaters to help our elder citizens get through the winter). . .and so on.

Give Thanks for the Perfect Promotion

thanksgiving-tableMEN’S DAY. “Men’s Day at Champion Chevrolet” takes place the day after Thanksgiving, the biggest shopping day of the year, to attract men to the dealership. The angle is, “Don’t be a wimp and follow your wife around at the mall this year. Be a real man and come test-drive a truck at Champion Chevrolet with other men!” We set up a big-screen TV so no one will miss any football games. Everyone can register to win the TV, and we throw in other man-type prizes like season basketball tickets and gift certificates to a local men’s shop.

DINNER ON THE MAYFLOWER. Arrange with your local/regional Mayflower mover to award a sumptuous catered dinner in one of their moving vans. Get your town’s best restaurant to supply the food and the service. Get your town’s best decorator to fix up the inside of the van.

FILL THE MAYFLOWER. Listeners are invited to come to sponsor locations and donate non-perishable food items for the needy. The radio station broadcasts live remotes at the sponsor locations daily from mid-November through Thanksgiving. The goal is to fill a 48-foot Mayflower moving van with food, all of which goes to a local food- distribution charity. Tie in your local/regional Mayflower company. Then sell sponsorships to any and all businesses: sponsors get participation in all signage, on-air promotional announcements, and a remote from their businesses.

LEFT-OVER WEEKEND. After Thanksgiving, since everyone is thinking “left-overs” anyway, clean out your prize closet and get rid of left-over promotional items from the past year.

THE DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING is a monster sales day for most retailers. Go to the biggest department store in your town and help them stretch that sales volume back to Wednesday. Sell an all-day pre-Thanksgiving radio remote. Do the “Mountain of Coke” or other promotion encouraging people to stop in and pick up their soft drinks for the holiday. . .and also enjoy after-Thanksgiving special prices before Thanksgiving at the department store.

TURKEY SHOOT. Have listeners write in to win a free Thanksgiving turkey from a participating sponsor. Sell advertisers a “Turkey Shoot” package consisting of a certain number of ads, and each sponsor has a turkey given away in their name during the contest. Make up a rotating cart with various animal sound effects—a duck, a goat, and so on, along with a turkey. (For an extra fillip, put a cuckoo clock on the tape as well.) Select cards from all those submitted by listeners, call them and put them on the air. The jock asks if they’re ready to “go turkey hunting,” plays a shotgun sound effect, then plays the animal-sounds tape. If the turkey sound comes up, the player wins a turkey; if it’s another sound, the player wins a consolation prize. Variations on the theme: have listeners call in to win, or have them register at participating sponsor locations or online.

HOLIDAY GREETINGS. Start selling your holiday greeting announcements ahead of the pack . Telemarket a combination Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s package in early November. Then rework the unsold inventory in early to mid December for Christmas and New Year’s only.

GO AFTER IT. Think about working with folks in these product categories and who sell these products:

  • Groceries
  • Turkey farms
  • Decorations
  • Travel
  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Honey-baked ham
  • Apple cider farms
  • Hay rides
  • Rentals (tables, chairs, party goods)
  • Rental cars (for family visitors)
  • Electronics
  • Santa
  • Christmas shopping

THANKSGIVING DINNER RECIPES. In the two weeks prior to Thanksgiving, have listeners call the station on cue to record their favorite tips and recipes for preparing the traditional holiday turkey and all the trimmings. Suggest in the promos that listeners write down their tips and recipes before calling in so they’ll be prepared to record. Line up a grocery store to sponsor the call-in segments and to provide callers with small prizes or coupons for free merchandise. On the air, play back the calls, surrounding them with a sponsorship billboard and the store’s commercial. Going one step further, line up a catering service to provide a full turkey dinner on Thanksgiving to the winner of a random drawing from all those who submitted tips and recipes—and the caterer prepares all dishes using the recipes submitted.

BOWLING WITH TURKEYS. At a local bowling alley, participants bowl with actual frozen turkeys (make sure they are well wrapped!). winners receive turkey and other dinner items like stuffing, cranberries, etc. a local supermarket makes a good sponsor here. Try tying in meat company coupons for free bowling.

CARE FOR A DRUMSTICK? Here’s an idea developed by a Bay Area radio station: with the Thanksgiving season coming up why not hold an out of the ordinary fund raiser for your town’s local food shelter by auctioning off drumsticks. No, not drumsticks served with gravy and cranberries, but authentic drumsticks from some of the world’s most famous rockers. Do the bidding on-air, but please explain rules explicitly before the auction as well as during.

SPOT THE GOBBLE. During Thanksgiving season many stations give away turkeys, so why not put a twist on the promotion to stand out from your competition? In the weeks prior to Thanksgiving, invite your listeners to phone in and “gobble” on the air. Record all gobblers on tape along with their identification. During the three days prior to Thanksgiving, play a gobble every hour ( without revealing the identity of the “turkey”). If the listeners who originally made the recordings recognize their voices, they must call the station and properly identify themselves to win a free turkey.

Halloween Candy

pumpkinBEST HALLOWEEN HOUSE DECORATIONS. Do a competition judged by a local blue-ribbon panel or listenrs. Conduct a “Tour of Terror” of the winning homes.

BLACK CAT SINGS THE CALLS. This is a fun promotion that gets media attention. Your station gives a cash or merchandise prize to the owner of a black cat (or any cat, for that matter) that can sing the station call letters. Make it a station event where contestants and other listeners come to participate. Goofy but fun.

CANINE COSTUME PARTY. It’s one thing to do a Halloween costume party for people, but how about one for dogs? You’ll attract lots of pet owners, have a lot of fun, and probably generate some press as well.

FRIGHT NIGHT. Sponsor an invitation-only Halloween costume party at a local spot. During the month of October, give away pairs of tickets to the 13th caller when they hear a fright sound (cackle, scream, creaking door) or part of a Halloween song. At the event, award prizes for the best, worst, scariest and most creative costumes.

GLOWING EYES. If you wear contact lenses, ask your optometrist for Fluorescein; soak your
lenses in it; put them under a black light for an hour or so, and your eyes will glow in the dark.

HALLOWEEN COSTUME COMPETITION. You can do this among adults. . .kids. . .even pets.

HALLOWEEN HOUSE. Starting a week before the 31st, start giving clues about where the WXXX Halloween House is located. Trick-or-treaters ask, “Is this the WXXX Halloween House?” Award special “treats” to those who ask at the designated house.

HALLOWEEN CANDY FACTS. Candy corn—a.k.a. Indian corn—was created in the 1880s by George Renninger of the Philadelphia, PA-based Wunderle Candy Company. The three colors of the candy – a broad yellow end, a tapered orange center, and a pointed white tip – mimic the appearance of kernels of corn. Each piece is approximately three times the size of a real kernel from a ripe or dried ear. Every year, 25 million pounds of candy corn are sold. Wikipedia

HALLOWEEN PARADE is done as a huge event with lots of sponsor tie-ins. Listeners come in costume for an evening of food, beverages and fun. This is a great downtown event: stores can stay open and give special deals and free goodies.

HAUNTED BUS. This can be sponsored by your local transportation company. Decorate the interior of the bus and painted Halloween designs on the outside. Families walk through the bus and receive treats as they leave.

HORRIBLE PARTY. Throw a big Halloween party at a local venue. Families are encouraged to come in costume for trick-or-treating, games, and a storyteller telling ghost stories. The candy, bags and prizes are supplied by participating sponsors.

HORROR FILM FESTIVAL. Work with a local theater to present a Midnight show or matinee consisting of old horror films. The rights to these are cheap or free. Or do it yourself at a room at the library. If you go that route, pop up some popcorn and give it away, or work with a local food vendor to supply snacks.

HORROR FILM PRIZES. Pick up some old horror films in the discount bin of the local video store and use them for prizes.

I HEAR DEAD PEOPLE. Have your morning show play only songs by dead people.

I VANT YOUR BLOOD. Run a blood drive around Halloween—reminding listeners that the blood they give must be their own!

KXXX TRICK OR TREATER. A costumed character parades around town on Halloween day, giving goodies to people who identify the KXXX Trick or Treater. On the air, give clues to the character’s identity, and where he or she will be.

MALL CRAWL. Give away your own treat-filled bags at a local mall. Fill the bags with candy, station goodies, and coupons from stores in the mall. (Don’t forget the entertainment – magicians, clowns, sports figures.)

MCGRUFF HALLOWEEN BAGS. The National Crime Prevention Council has trick-or-treat bags featuring McGruff the Crime Dog and his Halloween safety tips. They can be imprinted with your station logo. For more information, visit http://www.mcgruffstuff.com/.

OTHER HALLOWEEN GOODIES. Run a pumpkin-carving contest … do a Halloween costume competition (for a twist, do one for dogs) … have listeners compete for the best Halloween house decorations and conduct a “Tour of Terror” of the winning homes … have your morning show play only songs by dead people … pick up some old horror films in the discount bin of the local video store and use them for prizes … compile and read on the air a list of malls and downtown areas in your market that are doing trick-or-treating … ditto the “Haunted Houses” in the area … run a blood drive (reminding listeners that the blood they give must be their own).

PUMPKIN PARTIES. Line up several establishments in your area and throw simultaneous costume parties simultaneously, with rotating live reports from all of them. If you don’t have enough jocks or want to go in a different direction, hire a Pumpkin Party Bus to hit each location.

PUMPKIN DROP. After Halloween, have listeners bring their “used” pumpkins to a big sponsor’s parking lot. Rent a crane and drop the pumpkins. Biggest splash wins, or mark off the lot and award prizes to each participant based on where the pumpkin lands.

PUMPKIN PARTY. Right before Halloween, have a pumpkin-carving contest where listeners must include your call letters somewhere on the pumpkin. Have the listeners bring the completed jack-o-lanterns to a certain venue (mall, downtown area, etc.) to put on display; shoppers vote for the scariest, funniest, most original, etc. Your personalities can award prizes during a special ceremony.

PUMPKIN-CARVING CONTEST. Hold it in a mall or sponsor retail location. Pumpkins are provided by a local grocer. You can even have a local expert (perhaps from or sponsored by the grocer) give lessons.

TOUR OF TERROR. Have listeners decorate their homes with a Halloween theme and award prizes for the best, worst, most creative, most ornate, etc.

TREAT BAG X-RAYS. Sponsor treat bag X-rays in cooperation with a local hospital.

THROW A BIG HALLOWEEN PARTY at a local venue. Families are encouraged to come in costume for trick-or-treating, games, and a storyteller telling ghost stories. The candy, bags and prizes are supplied by participating sponsors.

TRICK OR TREAT HOUSE. Line up local sponsors. In advance, pick out several “WXXX Trick or Treat Houses” around town, telling listeners when they are trick-or-treating, to ask at each house, “Is this the WXXX Trick or Treat House?” If it is, they receive a prize from the co-sponsor.

TRICK OR TREAT BAGS. This is a great way to offer clients added value with their regular radio buy. Have plastic bags imprinted with your station’s logo and those of co-sponsors. You can either do bags that are specific to Halloween (black and orange, pumpkin graphic, etc.) or something more generic that you can use for other events and shows.

TRICK OR TREATER. This is a variation on the “WXXX House” from above. A costumed character parades around town on Halloween day, giving goodies to people who identify the KXXX Trick or Treater.

TRICK OR TREAT. When listeners hear the doorbell sound effect on the air, they call the station to either be “tricked” or “treated.” Each person who calls can win a prize (like a bag of Halloween candy and a 2-liter bottle of Pepsi).

TRICK OR TREAT STREET. Sell an on-air campaign to a real estate developer along with a promotion where children trick or treat on the streets of the developer’s model home development. Sell schedules to toy and snack vendors and anyone else who wants to get in on the fun. Tie in a public library and book stores by having them read ghost stories at houses along the route. Promote the event on-air as a safe way for parents to take their kids trick-or-treating. Print up treat bags with your station and the sponsor’s logo on them. Allow sponsors to coupon, too.

TRICK-OR-TREAT BULLETIN BOARD. Compile and read on the air a list of malls and downtown areas in your market that are doing trick-or-treating; ditto the Haunted Houses in the area.

TRICKS OR DIAMONDS. WQNY, Ithaca, NY scared up this unique promotion for October, an off-season month for the jewelry business. The station held a “Rock-toberfest” which ties in a jewelry store and a hotel lounge/club. The promotion was a success for the station and the participating sponsors because of the creativity of the promotion. Listeners call in for a chance to win “Q-Rocks,” smooth stones painted with the station logo. The rocks are good for free admission to the exclusive Rock-tober party hosted by the station at the sponsoring hotel/club. Because the festival is held in October, the party includes a Halloween-themed “best dressed rock” costume contest. The person whose Q-Rock is judged the most creatively adorned wins the grand prize—loose gems from the participating jewelry store.

WAR OF THE WORLDS. The broadcast rights to the Orson Welles classic are held by Matrix Media, syndicator of When Radio Was, whose affiliates get first crack. Contact Mary Lou Davidson at 941-379-1440 or email her at marylou@matrixmediainc.com.

RAB-SMRN Promotions Contest Winners

The Radio Advertising Bureau and SMRN teamed up to present a Great Promotions Contest. The winners received a subscription to SMRN and a RADIO Radio from the RAB.

ELECTRIC CLASSIFIED. KDUK, Eugene, OR (541-485-1120, fax 541-484-5769) and a local auto dealer group have teamed up to present “Kiefer’s Electric Classified.” This daily report is geared to move cars both new and used. Each day around the 5:00 p.m. drive time, our on-air personality highlights a specific car, truck or van. This vehicle will be described live on the air, and it will have a special Radio Discount that is not available anywhere else.

This is a highly-targeted (qualified buyers 18-40) high-yield campaign that will separate Kiefer’s dealers from all other competitive dealers in Western Oregon. The promotional concept will help move cars because we are talking directly to the people who are actively looking to buy now.

This is a long-term campaign which produces results in a short period of time. A modified, short-term version of this concept has already proved itself successful when used for another dealership.

This concept is so effective because it is so simple: adults 18-40 are not newspaper readers. They are on the move and they get their news and information via electronic media (radio). This demographic is very active and falls into the medium to high income level. The best thing about this concept is that you do not need to create a new budget. Just move some of the client’s classified print dollars to radio.

THE RAIN FALLS MAINLY ON THE GAUGE. KJAM, Madison, SD (605-256-4514) sells rain gauges every Spring; the gauges can be mounted in the ground or on a post, and have a big oval side panel on which is printed, “When accuracy counts, count on KJAM Radio.” The station buys them for $2.37 (minimum 250, imprint included) and sells them for $4.99. In the first two years the station sold 450 gauges—in a community of 6200 people—and netted $1,183. According to KJAM Promotion Director Rod Goeman, “The profit can be used for a Christmas party or some other office project.” (Editor’s Comment: It can also be used to pay the bills.)

The promo: “Rainfall can vary from farm to farm and yard to yard. Now you can know exactly how much rain you receive with an official KJAM rain gauge. These durable, shatter-resistant rain gauges are inexpensive and fit on a post or in the ground. The KJAM rain gauge is only $4.99, or send in an extra dollar and we’ll mail you one for just $5.99. Stop at KJAM radio today to pick up your official KJAM rain gauge. Another shipment of rain gauges has arrived. When accuracy counts, count on KJAM Radio!”

SUPER BOWL PROMOTION. We gave away $1,000 for a Super Bowl promotion because our retailers were not too anxious to advertise.

We signed up $4,200 worth of new business to give away a thousand dollars. Quite a simple promotion: You have people register their guess who will win the Super Bowl, and take a registrant from each store with his/her guess of Green Bay or Denver, so you have one possible winner from each location. The drawing is held the day after the Super Bowl, and we get our entries in just before game time, because some of our stores had a Super Bowl sale until 5 p.m.

We had five banks, a clothing store, a furniture store, a farm elevator, a farm service station, a telephone company, a small gift shop, and a grocery store. We netted $3,000 after expenses (posters and registration slips), but had we not done it, we would have been woefully short.

As far as telemarketing programs go, I am not sure how all these GMs and Sales Managers make up their revenue when business is at an all time low, at least in most Kansas communities, but without telemarketing we would be scr**ed.

Our telemarketing gal found a Soil Conservation Banquet that wouldn’t be held until February 9, but we started running a schedule promoting the event, and you would not believe the number of banks, elevators and service stations—even the ASCS office—that spent $75. I even got the bank that spent $500 sponsoring the dinner to spend $75 more telling farmers he was sponsoring the dinner. We generated over $2,000 in two days with a Salute to Soil Conservation.

I am sorry, and maybe we don’t know how to properly sell retailers, but they are not knocking on our door; we have to have something to sell. We are making a profit every year, and Small Market Radio Newsletter is making the difference. We could not do it without your help. I bought Bob Doll’s telemarketing book and it’s the best $100 I ever invested.

On the Super Bowl promotion, did the stores profit? I guess! For every visit a customer made to a participating store, he/she got a free registration slip; for every $10 purchase he/she got an additional ticket. The clothing store had a better sales week this year than last year, and he knows where it came from; he will sign up again next year.

Jay, thanks again for printing the best idea bank in the country. It does help us smaller broadcasters, and maybe someday the nay-sayers will wake up and find that $5,000 is possible in a week, even in a small market of 4,000 people.

—Wayne Grabbe, KRSL, Russell, KS, krsl@media-net.net

BUNNY TIME. This year, WDTL-FM and WOHT-FM will conduct our Sixth Annual “Color The Easter Bunny Contest.” We had a local artist draw a bunny and printed it on over 4,000 11×17 Easter Bunny posters that are distributed through local schools and at participating sponsors. Sponsors get a coupon on the poster plus a spot schedule. The contest is open to all kindergarten through sixth grade students; first, second and third place cash prizes are awarded in two categories (K-3 and 4-6). We involve the sponsors in the judging, which is done the Friday before Easter.

Anyone wanting a reduced-size copy of the poster, fax or e-mail me your fax number.

—Larry Fuss, Delta Radio, Inc., Cleveland, MS, 601-846-0929, fax 601-843-0494, lfuss@deltaradio.net

PATROLS. This one was brought up by RAB VP/Membership Ron Ruth during the Small Market Advisory Committee meeting in Dallas last month. We included it in our notes from that meeting, but in case you didn’t see it we’re going to repeat it here. According to Ron, this is “the best radio promotion I’ve ever seen, but it’s not always done by a radio station”

The idea is to work with local retailers and businesses to designate special parking spots close to the entrance—near the handicapped spaces is usually the best. The two “patrols” that are usually done are. . .

  • Stroller Patrol, reserved for women with kids under the age of three
  • Stork Patrol, for pregnant women

Each designated parking spot has a sign referring to the “KXXX Stroller Patrol” or “WYYY Stork Patrol,” with a message like, “RESERVED for members of the KXXX Stroller Patrol. Parking with sticker only.” The station charges 50¢ per month for the stickers—which of course also bear your station’s call letters—with all of the money going to a local charity.

—Ron Ruth, rruth@rab.com

COOKING SHOW. WLBK, DeKalb, IL, does a Homemaker Cooking School each year. The show features appliances provided by a local store, and the station sells co-sponsorship packages to other merchants (which include a pair of tickets to the event). WLBK sells reserved seat tickets to the event for $5.00 apiece; they are sold at the box office of a local theater. (This year, all 1000 seats sold out in an hour and forty-five minutes.) Listeners are given opportunities to win free tickets to the show in the weeks preceding the event.

—Dianne Leifheit, WLBK, DeKalb, IL, 815-758-8686, fax 815-756-9723

THE SHAPE OF CD’S TO COME. You may not have immediate need of this information, but it’s good to keep in mind in case you ever find yourself producing a Compact Disc—a station demo or a compilation of local artists, for example. There is a company called Shape CD, Inc., which will produce a die-cut CD in virtually any shape; don’t worry, it is playable on any CD player! (As long as the largest part of the CD is no larger than a regular CD, the thing will play.)

If you’re looking for something truly distinctive and attention-getting, this is it! Contact Jeff Miller, Account Manager, Shape CD, Inc., 875 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 1811, New York, NY 10001; call 212-279-2929 or fax 212-279-0909.

MEET THE BEATLE. Editor’s Note: The following success story was submitted by James A. Bowman, CRSM, Pottsville Broadcasting, Pottsville, PA, 717-622-1360, fax 717-622-2822.

Client: J. Bertolet Volkswagen

Objective: To introduce the new 1998 VW Beetle, to create public awareness, to draw traffic to the dealership

Stars of the Show: The ‘98 Beetle, the T-102 FM Breakfast Crew

J. Bertolet VW chose Pottsville Broadcasting Company (PBC Radio) to advertise and promote the arrival of the new ‘98 Beetle. Three of PBC’s radio stations, with a wide overall demographic spread, were used for two weeks prior to the Saturday kick-off of the Beetle. OES-type schedules were run on all three stations for two weeks prior to the event, along with extensive use of live liners and promos during the week prior, to promote a live remote on Saturday, March 7 featuring WAVT-FM’s Breakfast Crew.

Results: Before the kick-off day even arrived, listeners were calling the dealership by the hundreds wanting more information about the ‘98 Beetle. People wanted to buy them sight-unseen! (Bertolet VW took orders for more than 20 new Beetles prior to kick-off day.) On Saturday, March 7, over 2000 people showed up at the dealership to see the new Beetle!

You have to understand that this is a small, family-operated dealership. They usually have room for only three cars in the showroom. The entire sales staff consists of Jack Bertolet, Sr., his sons Jack, Jr. and Blaine, and one other. They wrote orders for about 40 new Beetles and actually ran out of order forms. They were positively overwhelmed!

We didn’t have to convince Bertolet VW about the kind of results radio can deliver. They have been believers for years. And the new Beetle has had great press and reviews over the last several months, so it should come as no shock that the public responded well to the announcement that the new cars were actually here at Bertolet VW.

What is noteworthy is that 99% of the advertising and promotion for this very successful event was done using radio. It is highly unlikely that any amount of print advertising could have produced the results we did. In 25 years of broadcasting I’ve had hundreds of success stories, but this was without a doubt one of the best.

What’s next? We’ll be taking the new Beetle on the road to area malls, a local Dunkin’ Donuts, and even the parking lot of a large industry in the area. We’ll broadcast live and offer listeners the opportunity to see the car all America is talking about. Hundreds more will be able to see the car this way than ever would if it were confined to the Bertolet showroom. We’ll spend a few hours displaying the Beetle over the next two weeks and hopefully sell a couple of dozen more!

PARK-IT MARKET. In Sioux Falls, SD, a gentleman operates a “Park-It Market” which entails leasing a little-used portion of a ShopKo parking lot near a busy street. He offers ShopKo a few dollars a week for each parking space, based on inventory. He then rents the space to the public to display their own cars and vans and pickups. He gets $18.50 a week per vehicle and maintains at least 100 vehicles each week. That’s $1850 a week in gross revenue. He also runs an ad in a local shopper promoting the inventory.

This business operates only from May through October, due to South Dakota snowfall. It grosses over $50,000 each season. The expenses: rent to ShopKo, the shopper ad, and printing for window displays, contracts, and so on.

How can we in radio capitalize on this idea? Check your Kmart, Wal-Mart, ShopKo, Target or other big retailer parking lots. Usually over 50% of their lots are never used, except maybe at holiday time. Find a couple of stores that have the highest traffic counts. Arrange to lease a portion of their lot nearest the street and farthest away from their store.

You can probably negotiate with the store to pay them $5 per week; you may be able to trade this out. You can set your rental price at around $20 a week.

The way the Park-It Market guy does it, he is on the parking lot every Sunday evening between 5 and 7 p.m. only, signing lease agreements with displayers and collecting the $18.50 from each person for each space. There’s no reason it couldn’t be Monday or Friday evening—your choice! On his lease it clearly states that if your vehicle is on the lot past seven days, you are obligated to pay for another week.

Using the power of radio, what would happen if your radio station ran ads each week promoting the “Park-N-Sell sell-it-yourself classifieds” (“Park-It Market” is a registered name, so don’t use it)—with the ads listing the ever-changing inventory of cars, vans and pickups. That takes the place of the shopper ad, and it costs you nothing! The weather in your market will determine how many months you can operate each year.

Minimal printing costs include a two-part lease agreement, and bright window posters with two-sided tape that can be attached to the inside window of the vehicle, displaying the owner’s phone number and details about the vehicle. The Sioux Falls Park-It Market also uses colorful banners attached to the light poles in the ShopKo parking lot. For added effect, attach little streamers to the vehicles’ antennas.

Since recent studies indicate that fewer people are trading in their cars and more are selling them on their own, your car-dealer accounts should be okay with your plan. After all, the easier it is for their customers to sell their old cars, the sooner they can buy newer ones.

—Rod Goeman, KJAM, Madison, SD, 605-256-4514, fax 605-256-6477

FREQUENT-USER COUPON BOOK. Here’s an idea that can generate lots of revenue for your station and create more and better radio advertisers:

The station designs a coupon book for advertisers to redeem with the station’s salespeople.

The coupons offer discounts or value-added for advertising time; examples: 10% off on any schedule of $250 value or higher; buy a remote, get a discount on a weather dominator; sponsor a newscast, get a schedule free

The salespeople sell these coupon books for one day only for $299 (or whatever works in your market). The book is promoted as, “Get $1500 worth of KXXX advertising for just $299.”

If you have ten salespeople and they each sell four coupon books, that’s $12,000 in sales in one day. More sales are booked when advertisers redeem their coupons.

This is a great way to upsell current advertisers, and to get new or light advertisers to become more frequent users of radio.

—Barb Salz, KGLO/KIA-FM/The Fox, Mason City, IA, 515-423-1300, fax 515-423-2906

PROFESSIONAL SECRETARIES WEEK. This is a “message” telemarketing campaign with a twist. Go to local businesses—don’t forget your nontraditional advertisers—and offer them the opportunity to recognize their loyal, hardworking secretaries and executive assistants during Secretaries Week. Sample copy: “John Smith of The Smith Company would like to salute Betty Brown, Ed Green and Thelma Blue for their invaluable contributions to our success. . .” We sell the salutes at $40 for five announcements on our FM and five on our AM, saluting up to three employees; additional messages by the same company, saluting up to three additional employees, are $25 each.

Now for the twist: on Secretaries Day, we will draw the names of three secretaries mentioned in the salutes (only one per company); each will win a floral arrangement, a dinner for two and a box of candy, all contributed by participating merchants in return for promotional mentions.

We were originally going to do a registrations-and-promos type contest for the secretaries, but realized that would only be tapping the same old retail base one more time. This way we can involve a lot of the industrial and service industries in our town, as well as the retailers.

DAILY FAX. We publish The Daily Fax five days a week. We fax it to about 700 numbers overnight—mostly businesses, governmental offices, schools, etc. They have a one-page summary of the news on their machines when they arrive at work each morning.

Now that we have e-mail capability, we are building a list of people who want to receive it by e-mail. We have about 50 on our list so far. It’s great for folks who do not have a fax machine, but do have a computer with access to the Internet. Also, it’s great for people who are from the Athens area but are now living somewhere else. We e-mail it each evening.

We also have The Daily Fax posted on the Internet at http://www.mcminn.net. There’s no charge to receive it. We make our money by selling ads in the squares and in the “Restaurant Spotlight.” (The first thing people do when they arrive at the office each day is discuss where they’re gonna “do lunch.” Now they have easy access to the daily specials at some of the popular eateries.)

We’ve been doing this since June first. We’ll never get rich on it, but it’s a good way to bring in an extra two or three thousand dollars a month with virtually no expenses. SEE A SAMPLE

—Bob Ketchersid, WYXI, Athens, TN, 423-745-1391, wyxi@cococo.net

TWO FOR THE COMMUNITY. WZEP AM 1460 has had two events recently to demonstrate the reach of local, involved community radio. WZEP hosted their fourth annual Homemakers School, boosting sales in February. More than 500 attended, with 15 local sponsors providing ad support and getting display space at the event. A local group sold refreshments. The event provided community support and served the community and station well.

In April, the local American Cancer Society had a $20,000 goal for their Relay For Life. The event raised over $40,000, with much credit to WZEP’s involvement. Local radio continues in DeFuniak Springs, FL!

—Art Dees, WZEP, DeFuniak Springs, FL, 904-892-3158, fax 904-892-9675

THE ULTIMATE LISTEN-AT-WORK PROMOTION. Last fall, WHPO morning personality Becky Buss and sales manager Kay Eisennmann came up with the idea to have area farmers listen to 101 Country while they harvest. Farmers were asked to call or fax us the number of the cellular phone they carry in the combine. Becky would call a farmer every morning on the air; if they answered with, “WHPO is going to bring me lunch,” we did.

Over 150 area farmers registered their cell phone numbers with us. Over 20 area restaurants participated.

The promotion created a lot of talk—everybody wanted to win. Soon other farm-related businesses wanted lunch, too!

Becky did a live break right from the farmer’s field, sometimes in the combine itself. She interviewed the farmer, asking him how it was going, what kind of production he was getting, what kind of equipment he was using, and to whom they fed lunch. She gave the winner a 101 Country hat, magnets and pens.

This year we plan to sell the promotion to a cellular phone company. A bank is interested, too.

As an added interest-builder, we scheduled our Farm Safety messages during the promotion, encouraging farmers to be careful, and encouraging others to watch for slow-moving farm vehicles.

We had two one-sheets out for this promotion:

One was the sales sheet directed to the participating restaurants, saying, “Join all the favorite restaurants in the 101 Country listening area in a fun advertising promotion for the Fall harvest. . . You supply lunch for four hungry farmers, your choice of menu. WHPO supplies promos and name mentions of your business and menu—and potential new customers.”

The other sheet was the entry form for farmers to fill out, headed with, “WHPO Is Going To Bring Me Lunch. Listen to WHPO at 8:45 a.m. during harvest, and when your cell phone rings, say, ‘WHPO’s going to bring me lunch.’ And that is exactly what we will do, from a great restaurant near you.” Below the blanks for name and address, the form concludes with, “Becky and Kay will deliver four hot meals to the field, so fill out your number and get it in. Don’t forget: ‘WHPO’s going to bring me lunch!!!’”

This is a good promotion for us—easy, fun, involving our core listeners and the farming community. The response was great! Everybody wanted to know where we’d be going next. Every call we made except one answered their phones with the right phrase!

—Gary Voss, WHPO, Hoopeston, IL, 217-283-7744, fax 217-283-6090

REBATE PROMOTION. The sales flyer announcing this sales promotion reads:

With all the income tax refunds and the car dealers offering rebates plus everyone else offering rebates, so will we at WXXX! We will offer you a rebate on all your advertising that will run during the month of March or April.

Here’s How It Works

For every $500 in advertising, you’ll receive a crisp $100 bill.

 

For every $900 in advertising, you’ll receive two crisp $100 bills.

 

 

Sound good??? Schedule your additional advertising on WXXX now! Spend your rebate for vacation, extras, or however you choose.

—Judy McClintock, KGRN, Grinnell, IA, 515-236-6106, fax 515-236-8896

SUMMER COVER-UP. Again, from a sales flyer:

Join us for an excellent opportunity for your business in the months of June, July and August. We will feature your business exclusively for four full days during the “WXXX SUMMER COVER-UP” for giving away to lucky listeners free tee shirts with the WXXX logo on the front and your business logo on the back. On those days, your business will be the only business for which we give away tee shirts. Winners will pick up their shirts from your business.

Plan A: Sixty (60) thirty-second advertisements to be used any time in May, June, July or August. Receive 24 tee shirts with your logo and ours. Your business will be featured for four days during the “WXXX Summer Cover-Up” to give away tee shirts to listeners. Investment: $– per month, May-August.

 

Plan B: Forty (40) thirty-second advertisements to be used anytime in May, June, July or August. Receive 24 tee shirts with your logo and ours. Your business will be featured for four days during the “WXXX Summer Cover-Up” to give away tee shirts to listeners. Investment: $– per month, May-August.

 

 

Benefits: Your business will receive top of mind awareness with the featured promotional announcements daily throughout the promotion, giving listeners chances to win free tee shirts from WXXX and your business. Your business takes advantage of a valuable marketing investment. And you will benefit from the “walking billboard” logo tee shirts!

—Judy McClintock, KGRN, Grinnell, IA, 515-236-6106, fax 515-236-8896

BOWLING TO THE OLDIES. Here’s an entry that is client focused, station focused and listeners have been having a ball! The client is AMF Seaway Lanes Bowling Alley. After analyzing their needs, I discovered that although their “Rock and Bowl” promotion was successful, the crowds attracted were, to quote the client, “less than desirable.”

So I called RAB and they sent me a ton of information on bowling alleys and the newest trend of “Theme Bowling.” Since our station had a popular Friday Night Oldies Show, I pitched the idea of “Bowlin’ to the Oldies.” Every Friday night, a station representative is at the bowling alley, handing out tee shirts and other prizes provided by both the station and bowling alley vendors. Our station is played over their PA system and we do live cut-ins. The bowlers love to request songs on the air, and simply enjoy bowling to the oldies music. The mood of the place completely changes as soon as the radio is turned on.

We promote the event all week, inviting listeners to “dig out those bobby socks, toss on the love beads and go Bowlin’ to the Oldies.” The alley is booked up by Wednesday for Friday nights and they have had to turn people away. And the crowd has been just the people my client was looking for: families. We have everyone from age 10 to 70 show up for this. On the 13th (and last) week of this promotion, we will have a costume contest for a bigger prize. The client is ecstatic, and AMF will be adopting this theme nationwide.

—Christine Sharlow, WOTT, Watertown, NY, 315-782-1240, theborder@gisco.mail.net

MOTHER’S DAY CONTEST. We put out postcards three weeks prior to Mother’s day. On the postcard is a space to say why your Mom is special. Then, the two weeks prior to Mother’s day, we read off a postcard and give the family 10 minutes to phone in to instantly win a small prize, and to get Mom qualified for the grand prize drawing: one year of free housecleaning, $500 in furniture, a two-night stay at a resort, free candlelight dinner for two, a day at the spa, and a dozen roses.

We trade all the prizes out, sell out 15 sponsors, and the postcards roll in! Not only that, but 85% of the names we read respond in 10 minutes. At one point we had 15 straight qualifiers, and we only try once every other hour from 6 a.m.-6 p.m.!

It works well for our clients who see the listeners come in to their business and it has created a ton of excitement in the area! Now this isn’t too timely for this year, but for those who plan well in advance like we do, now is the time to add it to the 1999 promotional calendar!

—Brian Bissonette, KKBJ FM-AM/WBJI-FM, Bemidji, MN, wbji@mail.paulbunyan.net

LIVE IN IT AND WIN IT. The question was asked to listeners of WNKS-FM, “What would you do to win a brand new Honda CRV?” And “KISS 95.1” received over 500 faxes and letters from some real characters.

In the end, four lucky and brave listeners won their chance to “live in it and win it!” A group of four individuals piled into a Honda CRV at the LaPointe Honda dealership at Carolina Place Mall, where they remained until one of them emerged the winner. Unfortunately for the contestants, the prize (Honda CRV) went to the one who could stand the surroundings the longest. KISS 95.1 was somewhat generous during the promotion. They allowed contestants 15-minute breaks every three hours to “take care of business.” In addition, BellSouth Mobility donated DCS phones for promotional consideration for all four contestants to use during this unusual time.

The station also started kitties for each of the contestants that would benefit their favorite charities. Shoppers donated money to the favorite charity of the contestant they thought would last longest. Charities included Charlotte Fire Fighters Burned Children’s Foundation; a homeless children’s benefit organization; and the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which helps cancer patients.

One of the contestants had to bow out after eight days due to a family emergency. After the other three spent 21 days in the car, KISS 95.1 called it a push and held a drawing for a winner. Consolation prizes were given to the two runners-up—$500 in cash and a BellSouth Mobility DCS phone. Contestants overcame many obstacles to make the promotion a success, such as spending Thanksgiving together, lack of sleep, lack of heat at night (after the building turned off its heat), questions from curious shoppers and enduring three hours without a break!

—WNKS, Charlotte, NC, 704-399-6195

VEHICLE SPRING CLEANING. I heard a promotion being done by a car dealer in Omaha geared to attract women: every new car purchaser received a free “Spring Cleaning” from Merry Maids. It’s something that can be run up to the first day of Summer. We tried to make it go at one of my client stations but it fell through because we couldn’t find a maid service to do it.

Even so, the car dealer we took it to was willing to commit to a $2,000 ad schedule—he only spent $250 in the same period last year! It proves that a good idea will overcome objections and budget limitations—a good lesson for the staff, since they got to see it work! The thing the car dealer liked the most was that it was geared to the woman, and the latest statistics show that the majority of car-buying decisions are actually made by women.

—Sandy Johnston, Sandy Johnston Management & Sales Systems, 402-932-0525

NURSES WEEK PROMOTION. I went to one of our local hospitals with the idea that they should pay tribute to their nursing staff by way of radio. The hook for them was they could utilize this tribute to build their image as the local facility that provides the utmost patient care but also is dedicated to taking care of their own team members.

There are a total of 1,326 people that fall into the RN category at this hospital, with a total of 35 Nurse Managers to whom they report. Each of these 35 Nursing Managers are doing testimonials that highlight either one particular nurse in their department or the department as a whole, at their option.

The strategy on the schedule was that one week prior to National Nurses Week we begin an awareness campaign that simply points out that “Next week is National Nurses Week,” along with some imagery stuff about the hospital itself. Then every day of National Nurses Week we air a testimonial spot. We play each manager’s tribute twice during the week; over the course of seven days the hospital gets 70 spots. I’m utilizing my primary station, a Country format, as well as one of my sister stations in the market, an AC format; both them skew females but maintain mass appeal.

The hospital Executive Board Members who gave us the thumbs up on the promotion are now thoroughly excited about this tribute, because. . .

It’s never been done before in this market.

Each RN that is highlighted also receives a 3-day/2-night California vacation of their choice.

We utilize local companies to sponsor each department, so there are absolutely zero out-of-pocket expenses for the hospital. All 1,326 RNs receive some type of gift (station clients and sponsors were eager to supply dinners, massages, and so on).

From the RN’s standpoint, this is sure a lot nicer pat on the back than the generic hospital table clocks each has received over the last three years.

 

Obviously, there is a little more to the promotional idea than just the tribute to RNs. I was able to show the hospital that by exposing this tribute to the entire Valley they will build the image that their facility really stands behind each team member. This sets up our next campaign that will begin immediately after Nurses week: a very extensive employment recruitment campaign (there’s a huge nursing shortage in this area) that creatively falls in the same lines, including testimonials from the Nurses about the benefits of being a team member at this facility.

—Tim Hill, Pac-Star Broadcasting, Modesto, CA, tdogzfun@aol.com

SENIOR OF THE YEAR. Who has the most time to volunteer? Seniors are a tremendous asset to this nation in terms of volunteer hours and experience. The “Senior of the Year” award promotion was created to recognize individuals in the community, and to generate revenue from sponsorships as well. Requests are made for nominations through radio promotional ads. Forms are picked up at sponsor locations. Nominations are deposited with sponsors or mailed to the radio station. A committee reviews and selects. Winners are recognized with a small cash award, a plaque and a ceremony at a station event.

SENIOR TIPS. There is a great deal of information available for and about Seniors. We found a sponsor to bring this information to Seniors on the radio. The sponsor buys a two-minute ad that consists of a live open with sponsor ID, commercial, recorded tip, and a live close. We invite experts to record the tips, and we have used this as a reason to develop stronger relationships with non-traditional advertisers.

—Kathleen Wille, CRMC, KFDI, Wichita, KS, 316-838-9141, kathleen@kfdi.com

PRIZE MOUNTAIN. This has been a 13-week Spring-book bonanza for 96 Lite FM. The first thing we did was secure a grand prize, which in our case was a $5,000 hot tub; the sponsor got probably $20,000 in free on-air promos, newspaper, etc. Everyone who plays the game, win or lose, is qualified for the grand prize. Based on 15 qualifiers a week times 13 weeks, that’s roughly 200 qualifiers total, so there’s a real good chance to win big. Once the grand prize is secured we start two heavy weeks of pre-promotion, selling “the sizzle”—one promo per hour 24/7!

While the promos are running heavily, the sales execs are on the street lining up prizes and schedules. Clients buy an ad package and give prizes of equal value. The best prizes are small but substantial, like a $30 gift certificate for a nice meal, theater passes for four, amusement park family four-packs, and so on. The key is to make the prizes for the whole family.

We play the game once a daypart, weekdays only. We solicit caller x into a commercial break. After the break, we take the caller on the air to play live, including a short :15-:30 live spot for a sponsor. The listener then gets to pick Door #1, 2 or 3. Random wins and losses are carted up on each cart. If the listener wins he/she gets the prize or prizes; losers are still qualified for the grand prize. We also had small consolation prizes for people who lost. Spice up the “doors” carts with sound effects, applause, “bonks,” and so on. Make it fun!

Losers can play again, if they can get through; this encourages them to keep trying. But if they win, they’re out for 30 days. If a player loses, that set of prizes moves to the next giveaway, thus building on the “mountain” theme. The prizes continue to build until someone wins.

After the final week of contesting we’ll spend the entire week promoting our grand prize drawing during a remote the following Saturday. The winner doesn’t have to be present to win, but we’re going to have some accessories for the hot tub if the winner is present, along with other door prizes. The grand prize sponsor has told us that this was the most professional promotion they’ve ever done. The sponsors love it because of the buzz we create for them.

—Consultant Michael J. Langevin, 218-722-4321, mlangevin@earthlink.net

JULY SLOW? Here’s an idea for some quick money: One of my clients just bought an AM and changed the format to Classic Country a week ago. In discussing ways to get attention, I thought of how “American” country music is; the phrase “American as apple pie” went through my head.

So I suggested that the client put up a table with a banner in the local park where the 4th of July festivities are taking place. Trade out apple pies and for an hour or so give free slices of pie away. Each time you hand someone a piece, say, “KICS, as American as Apple Pie.”

Hokey, yesssssssss! But do I care, if it gets the message out? Noooooooo. For that time span the station will also play patriotic music on a boom box at the booth.

Now, where do the $$$$ come from? Sell it to just a couple of sponsors who want to be “patriotic.” It gets the station some $$$$ and makes us look like we’re being supported by a couple of major players in town!

—Sandy Johnston, Marketing & Sales Training, 402-932-0525, sjachieve@aol.com

THE ROLLING REMOTE. Here’s a great “budget” promotion. We do a different town each Thursday of the month.

Got a tight budget? Think you can’t afford “live on location” coverage on Power 94.3 WZKB? Well, now you can. . .

The first Thursday of every month, Power 94.3 WZKB will come by your business in the afternoon and do two live on location reports, promoting your products and services to our listening audience, with a media investment of only 50 bucks a month.

Every business on your street can promote and increase the business in your area. With Power 94.3 WZKB your advertising message reaches Duplin, Pender, Onslow, Sampson, Jones and Bladen counties. There is no better media investment in the Southeastern United States!

Remember, there’s power in numbers. You can build those numbers for your business, because there’s great power with Power 94.3 WZKB.

Your media investment is only $50.00 per month for a minimum of three months, for a total of $150.00 over a three month period.

—Mack Jones, WZKB, Wallace, NC, 910-285-2187, fax 910-285-6166

MINI-TOUR GUIDE. We in small market radio are constantly searching for additional avenues of income; our Mini-Tour Guide helps pay a few bills around here.

The Guide is 22″ wide by 17″ deep, folding down to 5½” x 8½”. We print it in one color on white stock. The ads are roughly 13/4″ square; they ring the border of the main information page. This year’s Guide has 28 ads, one of them a double; we could get up to 38 ads on the page.

The mainstay of the Guide is the complete listing of every festival held in our parish (what we call “counties” around here), with telephone numbers. The singer Irma Thomas says we will celebrate anything: “We will celebrate the fact that your brother’s wife is pregnant—or we’ll celebrate the fact that she isn’t.” I guess that’s why we have so many events!

We also have welcome letters from the mayors of our cities and from the parish Tourist Commission.

We do the guide annually; we try to have it out by the first of June. The ads are $199.75 each, or a double for $375. We include fifteen 30-second sales messages on the air with each ad in the guide, which makes it a real bargain. It brings us an additional gross of $5,000-6,000 each June. We will probably do it on computer starting next year to cut costs.

If we did not include any sales messages on the radio with the Guide, we could avoid BMI and ASCAP fees on non-broadcast revenue.

—Wandall Allgood, KSLO/KOGM, Opelousas, LA, 318-942-2633, fax 318-942-2633

DRIVE-BY DATING. Have we become such a fast-food, sound-bite world that we must resort to drive by dating? John Lander says he’s just trying to make the morning commute a little more interesting for the Mix 98.5 (WBMX, Boston, MA) female listener.

Friday, July 24th, from 6-9 a.m., Lander hosted a “Mile of Meet” on Route 9 Eastbound. Beginning at JoAnn Fabrics, Lander co-host Lynn Hoffman and “Dirt of the Day” correspondent Amy Doyle were on hand to instruct the Mix 98.5 eligible bachelors to don numbers and form a line down Route 9, allowing passing female commuters to “view the goods,” so to speak. When a female listener was interested in one of the male mile markers, she called Mix 98.5, where Lander and Crew did their best to make a “love connection.”

The men of the mile were chosen after submitting to a rigorous screening process. (Okay, they just had to fax a photo and talk to Lander on-air). Natick Police were on hand to handle any traffic delays, and Dunkin’ Donuts handed out free coffee and donuts.

“Women are busy,” says Lynn Hoffman, “we’re just trying to streamline the dating process. It’s all in good fun, anyway!” Does that mean the next step is drive-through dating?

—Anne-Marie Strzelecki, WBMX, Boston, MA, amstrz@eagle937.com

YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. We have a local client whose radio ads are so awful. So I made an appointment with their ad buyer to make suggestions on making her radio dollars go farther, more efficiently and effectively; she received my comments very positively. (She spends a lot in the paper and I bet her radio bucks are about a tenth of that.)

She candidly told me she agreed with me about the radio spots, but the powers that be liked them. I offered to go with her to the powers that be with some new efforts. Well, my attempts were really liked (with some corrections and additions). . .and they said with this new approach, they would consider spending much more in RADIO since they didn’t know radio could be so creative!!!!

Anyway, I stand to have my budget doubled for my efforts, and all the other radio stations in the market will gain from the spots we did. I feel good about this; I wonder if it’s happening in other places. Just because stations are “on the buy list” with pre-produced spots doesn’t mean they can’t increase the buy with a bit of creative effort and honesty. (Since these weren’t produced at an ad agency, no creative egos were bruised.)

—Rick Sellers, KMRY, Cedar Rapids, IA, memorick@inav.net

Holiday, New Year and First Quarter Promotions

“FOR KIDS ONLY” SHOP can be established within retail locations for the holidays. Set up low tables divided into categories: for Mom, Dad, Sis, Brother, Grandma, Grandpa, and “someone special.” Most of the gifts on each table cost under $5.00. Set up a separate table with free gift wrap so the kids can wrap their own gifts.

$5 FOR $4. A Kentucky discount store operator created a lot of talk, a lot of traffic, and a huge Saturday during a slow week in January by announcing he was selling $5 bills for $4. The offer was limited to the first 500 shoppers.

ANGEL TREE. Angel Trees are placed in ten locations around the market, including a restaurant, department stores, discount stores, a gas station, a church, the post office, and the radio station. Listeners visit one of the locations and pick an angel from the tree; each angel contains the first name of a needy child or an elderly citizen, and the gifts they would like to receive. Listeners then purchase a gift and take it to the service desk of the location, or to the radio station. The station then arranges for the Salvation Army to make sure the right gifts go to the right “angels.”

BAD WEATHER DISCOUNT. When a sudden storm threatened his special “marathon” sale, an appliance dealer in upstate New York ran a heavy radio schedule offering discounts 10% below the sale prices printed in his newspaper ad. (He had a great day, needless to say.)

CABIN FEVER GETAWAY. Arrange a cruise on a riverboat for two. Place registration blanks and point of purchase displays at participating sponsors. Feature discounted items from sponsoring businesses to generate traffic.

CD CALENDAR. Take a CD jewel case, and make up 12 calendar pages, 4¾ inches square, one for each month, with your logo on each month. (If you want to get really creative, feature a picture of a different station activity or jock on each page.) Insert the pages into the CD case so the first month is displayed. Each month, remove the top page to go to the next month.

CHESTNUTS ROASTING. Many shopping areas find that selling traditional hot chestnuts on the street or in the mall during the season is very popular—and quite profitable, too!

CHRISTMAS WISH. There are many variations on this theme, but the basic idea is this: Listeners submit letters describing their Christmas wish and saying why they deserve it. Your station selects the most worthy recipients and produces spots with the announcer reading a letter, followed by a taped phone conversation in which the sender’s wish is granted. The wishes are handled with the cooperation of area merchants in return for on-air mentions. It is usually best to limit actual sponsorships to one or two major participants—often non-traditional advertisers from your area (manufacturing firms, healthcare facilities, etc.) that like to get involved in goodwill projects.

CHRISTMAS TRIVIA. Ask questions about Christmas music and films. Award holiday-themed prizes from participating sponsors.

CHRISTMAS AT YOUR HOUSE. Listeners enter at sponsor locations; the winner of the drawing wins a Christmas tree, decorated by your station staff, plus gifts underneath. Air personalities deliver the tree, bring seasonal refreshments, and help the winning family put up decorations.

CHRISTMAS CAROLING. Station staff members (including your air personalities) form a caroling group that makes house calls—including the local hospitals and nursing homes.

COME HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS. Your station invites entries in the form of short essays telling why they want to bring a beloved relative home, or why they want to visit a loved one. Read the best entries on the air, and award the prize to the best entry. Work out the prize details with a local travel agency.

CUSTOMIZED COMPUTER SHOPPER. The customized computer shopper is an excellent revenue generator. It’s especially good for general retail, regional shopping malls, office supply stores, and sporting goods. A computer—set up in a mall or inside a specific store—is programmed to offer consumers different shopping options, broken down by demographics. (The most popular categories are gifts for preteens and teenagers.) The shopper enters a selection and, via a word processing or desktop publishing program, the computer gives the shopper several gift ideas. It also indicates on which floor (or in which store) the items are located. In some cases, the retailer charges the manufacturers to be included on the store list. Also, this promotion will appeal to the retailer who stocks “lifestyle gifts” for such hard-to-shop-for people as the businessman, the golfer, the boater, etc.

DESIGNATED DRIVER. Ads for New Year’s Eve events include a message encouraging listeners to make up a party including one non-drinking driver. The non-drinker gets his or her soft drinks and snacks free. The station provides “Designated Driver” badges.

DRINKING & DRIVING. Get source material from local law enforcement agencies for a series of messages stressing responsible drinking. It’s a natural for a telemarketing campaign.

ESTABLISH A “GIFT REGISTRY” where people can leave hints for friends and relatives about what they’d like for Christmas.

EXPO SHOWS. Now is the time to plan one or more revenue-generating shows—Bridal Fair, Fitness Fair, Home Show, Outdoor Expo, Farm Fair, etc. Sell booths and line up entertainment (jugglers, magicians, mimes, etc. – to add to the atmosphere).

FOOD BANK EVENTS. One of the most visible of all charities in most markets is the local food bank, and they especially need your help at this time of year. Contact them and brainstorm your best promotional ideas to solicit cash and cans from your audience.

FURNITURE AND APPLIANCE DEALERS do well with New Year’s Day one-day-only sales. Offer a package including New Year’s Eve sponsorship and ad and remote plans for New Year’s Day.

GIANT TALKING GIFT BOX is painted in Christmas colors and wired for sound. The box talks, tells jokes, sings carols and entertains shoppers. (It can also promote your station or a station contest.)

GIFT-WRAPPED CARS. While auto sales traditionally slack off between Thanksgiving and the new year, aggressive auto dealers are always looking for new ideas to tap the market. Therefore, you might try to sell a car dealer on the idea of not only gift-wrapping—with a huge red bow—any auto purchased during the peak Christmas-buying season, but also providing storage (parking) for the vehicle between the time of purchase and Christmas Eve. This promotion can be effectively used to entice major regional malls into buying radio time, or to secure a disproportionate share of the budget. First, get rates from a local parking company, and build its rates into the sales campaign. Then approach the mall rep, and have him donate a certain number of parking spaces for valet parking. The most popular twist to this promotion: If your car sports a station bumper sticker, pull up for free valet parking.

GIFT EXCHANGE. A Midwestern furniture store offered allowances on unwanted or inappropriate Christmas gifts—no matter where they were bought—toward purchases in his store. Traded gifts were sold at ridiculous prices during a special promotion.

GUILTY PLEASURES. Most people feel guilty about spending too much money and eating too much food during the holiday season. So in January it’s a good idea to target groups like weight-loss and smoke-ending programs, self-help books and tapes, and other such organizations and activities.

HAVE A CONTEST TO FIND THE BEST DECORATED HOMES in your area this Christmas. Arrange tours to view the decorated homes. Award prizes for the best decorations, the most creative, the most number of lights, etc. Work with your Chamber or downtown association, perhaps charging a small fee – donated to charity – for the tours.

HELPING HANDS. To emphasize the helpful and personal attention shoppers receive, produce big badges that say, “I’m Here To Help You!” Retail salespeople, bank tellers and others who meet the public wear the badges throughout the holiday season.

HOLIDAY CONCERT TIE-INS. Most high schools and churches have choirs that will be doing holiday concerts. Tie in with a few of them to “charge” a free-will offering, the proceeds of which could go to the school itself and/or another worthy cause (like the food bank, in which case the free-will offering could be a can of food). In Is wired in as you are to your communities, you should have no trouble at all connecting the dots and coming up with a great win-win situation that brings worthy causes and your listeners together—with your station smack dab in the middle.
HOLIDAY FAVORITES. Have your listeners send you their three favorite holiday songs and post the entries on your website, allowing people to comment on the entries (always moderate your comments so that they must be approved before posting!). Or you could use your Facebook page to post the entries, allowing people to comment, and have them show up on your website in your Facebook widget.

HOLIDAY SHOPPER BABY-SITTING. Set up a babysitting service using students at the local high school or college. The students watch over the kids, age two to ten, for a dollar an hour —which is donated to charity.

HOLIDAY HOTLINE. This simple promotion is well suited to a variety of categories, including major department stores and shopping malls. The concept provides shoppers with gift ideas as close as their telephone—all that’s required is a telephone line and answering machine. In the case of a single outlet, featured products or manufacturers are rotated. In a mall setting, various stores are showcased and rotated. One good feature of a holiday hotline is that it gives callers last-minute shopping ideas. In addition, this promotion can be backed up with a point-of-purchase shopping list that’s composed of all featured manufacturers and/or stores.

HOLIDAY MESSAGES. Many stations report that their biggest telemarketing events of the year center on the year-end holidays. For example. . .

HOLIDAY GIFT BOX. The KXXX Holiday Gift Box is placed at sponsor locations, where listeners register for a chance to win gifts and gift certificates. In addition, individual store winners are eligible to win $500 in free long distance phone calls from a participating provider. Participating businesses include an auto body shop, lube center, pet shop, office center, gold and silver shop, appliance store, flower shop, craft shop, electronics store, and jeweler.

HOLIDAY GREETINGS. Invite your customers to wish their customers the best of the holiday season. You can have your production department put something together, or have the clients voice their own. (The latter is more effort, but you can probably get more money for it.) Naturally, you’ll use holiday music behind your greetings.

HOLIDAY SAFETY. Your customers can sponsor an important community service—reminding your listeners to exercise care in driving, putting up decorations, checking tree lights, and so on.

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS. Work with a phone carrier and an airline to award a grand prize of a trip home for Christmas and runner-up prizes of free holiday phone calls. [RAB]

HOMEMAKERS SCHOOL. Held at a high school auditorium, the event features free admission, new recipes, on-stage promotion and hundreds of dollars in door prizes. Related sponsors set up tables and booths to display their products and services.

IN-TOWN HOLIDAY PACKAGES. To draw out-of-town shoppers, put retailers and hoteliers together and come up with some special packages—including reduced room rates, deliveries of purchases to the hotel, shuttle buses, restaurant specials and merchandise discounts.

JUST FOR KIDS PARTY. Throw a “Just For Kids” party at a local theater in the afternoon during holiday shopping season. Children get in for a small fee plus a coupon given out by downtown merchants.

KARAOKE CHRISTMAS. Your morning-show host has callers sing along with instrumental versions of well-known Christmas songs. If the caller can complete a verse correctly, he or she wins a prize.

LEFTOVER WEEKEND. After Thanksgiving, clean out your prize closet and get rid of leftover promotional items from the past year.

LET’S TALK TURKEY. KLBK & WDEK invented this promotion when the local Salvation Army was faced with 350 Christmas food baskets to fill. In conjunction with the local weekly newspaper, the stations ran promos asking listeners to donate frozen turkeys and meat products suitable for a family holiday dinner. They ran live remotes 6 a.m.-6 p.m. from the Salvation Army the day of the collection, which is one day prior to their distribution of the food baskets (to avoid storage problems). The first year they did the promotion, we received 1,300 items—turkeys, roasts, geese, venison and one live pig! If anyone does this at another time of year, Dianne suggests the title, “Meat the Need.” [Dianne Leifheit, WLBK/WDEK, DeKalb, IL, 815-758-8686]

LETTERS TO SANTA. Sell four sponsors (at $187.50 per month), November and December billing. Go to all the elementary and pre-schools in the area with a hand-held tape recorder; have all the students and teachers say what they’d like Santa to bring them for Christmas. Play them back on the air, sponsored by the participating merchants. “Response has been overwhelming.” [KRSL/KCAY, Russell, KS, 913-483-3121]

LOUSY GIFT EXCHANGE. After Christmas, have listeners bring in a bad gift and trade it for a good one.

MAKE A “CHILDRENS’ ACTIVITY CENTER” where parents can leave their five-to-twelve-year-olds for up to two hours while they shop. Cookies and hot chocolate can be provided to both parents and children. Volunteers from youth groups (4-H, Boy Scouts, etc.) supervise activities, including a visit from Mrs. Claus, Christmas movies shown on DVD or VCR, arts and crafts, and caroling.

MAKE YOUR OWN ORNAMENTS. Special Christmas trees are set up in bank lobbies. Children in three age groups (under six, 7-9 and 10-12) are invited to make their own ornaments and hang them on the trees. Ornaments are judged in each age group and Savings Bonds are awarded to the winners.

MONEY MAZE. Depending on your budget, you can make this one as big as you want. It’s an old reliable that creates excitement while allowing you to get a big bang from a small budget. And by calculating the odds you can control the number of big prize winners. Here’s how it works: Caller ten gets to enter the Money Maze. Just for qualifying, they get to keep the entry-level prize no matter what happens. Let’s say we’re FM 107 and caller ten just won $10.70. Now the caller can try for $50 by entering the maze, they have the option of going straight, right, or left. A cart with random cuts will announce the acceptable direction. Let’s say the caller says “straight;” if the random cart says “straight,” the caller wins $50. The caller has the option of keeping the $50 or risking it for the $100 level. (The levels might be $50, $100, $500, and $1,000.) No matter what happens, they at least get to walk away with the original $10.70 prize.

MONEY TREE. We did this in December and it generated us $12,000 extra dollars which is great for a small AM station. We put $1,150 (our frequency) on a Christmas tree in cash—$100’s, $50’s and $20’s. We encased the tree in glass. We signed up sponsors and ran the promotion for three weeks; each sponsor got the tree in his or her business for one day, so customers could see it and register. We ran promos on the air telling where listeners could sign up. We held the drawing from a bank—which was also a sponsor and which housed the tree overnights. This one was good for the clients and their customers; it also got the station a lot of attention. We even got the local newspaper to put the winner’s picture in the paper. It is an easy and very profitable promotion. —Marcella Stuart, WCRK, Morristown, TN, Sweetmeis@aol.com

MOTELS offering special New Year’s weekend packages, including dinner, party, room, and breakfast, are good and obvious prospects.

New Year and First Quarter

NEW YEARS GREETINGS. This is a good time for your clients to thank their customers for their business in the past year and wish them a safe and happy new year.

NEW YEAR’S EVE SAFETY. Urge your listeners to be safe, choose a designated driver, etc. on December 31. Your clients sponsor these messages.

NICKEL SPOT SALE. Schedule this for the last two weeks of January and the first two weeks of February—for each extra ad the advertiser buys, he or she gets the second for five cents. To promote it, send a direct mail piece with a nickel; copy: “WXXX is having a 5-cent sale. We’ll buy your first nickel spot.”

NOONTIME MUSIC provided by a downtown or mall association can attract workers from their shops or offices into stores—in a buying mood. Have a different elementary, middle or high school provide the singing every day—ideally next to the shopping area’s big Christmas tree.

OFFER TO PUBLISH THE ANNUAL BUSINESS CALENDAR for your local Chamber of Commerce or business association. List all the key retail sales dates, special town events, holidays and – of course – your station promotions. Distribute the calendar to every business in the area. It will probably be posted, providing year-round promotion for your station.

ONE TON CLUB. Since losing weight is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, have your morning show recruit a group of listeners to pledge collectively to lose a ton—2,000 pounds—by March 31. This is a perfect tie-in for a local weight-loss center. Each week they check in and report, and the jock totals the pounds lost on the air. Everybody reaching the goal receives a certificate of merit for new clothes that fit the new body. If the group reaches the one-ton goal, throw a party catered by the sponsor, or give away trial memberships at a fitness center.

OPERATION WARM. During the month of December, collect coats for the area’s needy. Hook up with sponsors and have listeners drop off the coats and receive discounts in the stores. Line up a dry cleaning establishment to clean the coats as a donation in return for participation in the event. Work with your local Goodwill, Salvation Army or Care & Share to collect the coats from sponsor locations and distribute them to deserving families. [Paul Van Ehlis, KKFM, Colorado Springs, CO, 719-596-5536]

RADIO DAYS. First quarter is the perfect time to hook up with a school or other high visibility community organization to have a “Radio Day.” Members of the group solicit ad buys from local merchants, acknowledging that 50% of all ads sold go to the cause. Group members then take over the airwaves for two, three or four hours to read the ads and talk about the cause. It’s great community radio, especially if kids are involved!

RADIOTHONS. Another holiday-season favorite, devote some number of hours to a fund-raising effort for a local charity. In the bigger markets, they attract celebrities to boost listenership and response, but in your market, you can use local celebrities to do the same thing—your mayor, a big high school or college athlete, a beauty-contest winner or runner-up, the colorful character everybody knows and loves, the witty person everybody wants to emcee their function, etc. For additional visibility, do your radiothon at a mall or heavily-trafficked local business. (Keep in mind that you are better off leveraging traffic that’s already there than attempting to draw traffic on your own.)

REDUCED-RATE PARKING. A couple of ideas on this: Your station can feed meters during the season, leaving a windshield card telling the shopper that you’ve done so. You can work with local retailers to pay for all or part of the parking lot tab for shoppers, using validation cards (with the station call letters imprinted on them).

SANTA CALLS. Ask listeners for calls or letters that your station can “relay” to Santa at the North Pole. Catch the calls on an answering machine with a credible Santa voice. Select some at random to read or play on the air. Those not read should receive some kind of reply, maybe a nicely-printed form letter on “Santa” stationery.

SANTA’S ARRIVAL can be a big deal, generating the interest of adults and children alike. The better the vehicle, the more publicity: fire engine, antique car, authentic sleigh, a special float in a parade—or your station vehicle. To promote the town’s transit system (if you have one), have Santa arrive by city bus—either in one, with special guests riding along, or in his sleigh riding atop a bus.

SANTA’S IN-BOX. Set up a section of your website where kids can e-mail their gift lists to Santa. (When you post the lists on the site, be sure to use only first names and ages.) When dealing with kids, be sure you conform to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act; to get more information, visit www.ftc.gov/ogc/coppa1.htm and www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/kidzprivacy.

SET UP A “HOLIDAY HOUSE” in a vacant store or other convenient location in a shopping area. Shoppers will appreciate a place to sit down and rest and to enjoy holiday refreshments. This is also a good place to visit Santa and have a picture taken … to have gifts wrapped … and to check that Gift Registry.

SET UP A FREE GIFT-WRAP SERVICE in a central shopping location (at a mall and/or downtown). This is a service to the shoppers, but also to the merchants – their staff is relieved of the chore and able to serve more customers. Wrapping materials can be supplied by the downtown group or mall association, while a senior citizens group can be recruited to do the wrapping. A variation: charge a nominal amount—perhaps tied to your frequency—and donate it to a local charity.

SHOPPING TRANSPORTATION can be offered free or at reduced rates during the season, both among shops and shopping areas, and between a shopping area and outlying residential locations.

SMRN subscribers can view and download the telemarketing messages at http://www.smallmarketradio.com/subsonly/telemarketing.htm

SNOWBLOWER CONTEST. Work a deal with a local dealer for the use of a snowblower for a morning; say that only the motor will be used for an hour or so – the unit will show no signs of wear. When the forecast calls for a big snowfall overnight, pick up the snowblower. On the morning show, start the snowblower on the air and invite listeners to call and guess the exact time that the thing will run out of gas. The personality can do frequent “gas checks” throughout the show to prime the pump for more guesses (and the motor will be running in the background whenever the personality opens the mike). The closest guess wins a snow shovel, also donated by the dealer.

SPONSOR A BUSINESS OPEN HOUSE in early December, perhaps on a Saturday and Sunday. Merchants advertise on the air and send invitations to their mailing lists, inviting people to “Experience the special magic of a hometown Christmas.” Stores welcome their “guests” in the Christmas spirit and serve refreshments.

SPRING ANTICIPATION. Now is the time to get to the garden shops, boating stores, pool shops and implement dealers. Help them set up their marketing and beat your competition.

STORE HOURS HOTLINE. Since most shopping areas have trouble agreeing on uniform shopping hours during the holidays, set up a special phone number that shoppers can call—the “Christmas Shopper’s Hotline”—to get the hours for stores they want to patronize. Use either live operators or an interactive system.

STOREFRONT DECORATION CONTEST. In conjunction with your downtown association, chamber or mall association, hold a competition among area businesses. Have listeners vote on the best-decorated stores; their votes also count as entries to win prizes.

SUPER BOWL PARTY. Invite listeners to attend the event at a local sports-watching venue. Have station party favors, contests, appearances by your air talent and perhaps local sports figures. Tie in lots of advertisers for revenue, prizes, and participation.

TAKE A RIDE HOME ON US. Broadcast announcements beginning December 26 advising listeners to call the station for a free cab ride home from a New Year’s Eve party or bar if they think they’ve had too much to drink to drive safely. The station pays the local cab company a flat fee for the service between 6 p.m. and 3 a.m.

THE CHRISTMAS TOY HUNTER. Get to the local stores and make deals for a stock of the hot toys (we spent about $250 in trade). Hold onto them until about two weeks before Christmas. Then announce on the air that you can help your listeners avoid the toy-store crunch because your station has the hottest toys. Give away a toy a day on the morning show for two weeks, playing “Twenty Questions” with callers who have been unable to find a certain toy: “Is it for a boy or a girl?” … ”Does it require batteries?” … and so on. One station operator who ran this promotion told us, “To our luck, no matter what toy it was, the winner had been unable to find it and had just about given up. Needless to say, the response was tremendous!”

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. On the twelfth day before Christmas, one prize is awarded to a listener … on the eleventh day, two prizes are awarded to one listener … and so on, until twelve prizes are awarded to a single listener on Christmas Day. The giveaways can be triggered by playing a certain holiday song, or when callers are asked for, or from a drawing of point-of-purchase entries, etc.

TOY FACTORY. Businesses were invited to enroll to donate toys to give to needy kids during the holiday season. Each business was called a “toy factory” and would organize the event among its employees, setting up donation boxes, holding competitions among departments, and so on. Participating businesses would, in turn, compete among themselves for the most number of toys donated. The event was promoted on the radio station and on its website. The station sold remote broadcasts to other, non-traditional community-minded businesses.

TOYS FOR THE NEEDY. Encourage holiday shoppers to contribute toys for the needy (clean, repairable toys). Downtown retailers and other businesses serve as drop-off points for the toys; the businesses then take the toys to a special pick-up point for the Salvation Army, United Way, etc., to collect and distribute.

TRIM-A-TREE CONTEST. Non-profit clubs and organizations are invited to enter the contest. Trees are set up in stores, offices, building lobbies and so on; they are then decorated by the sponsoring non-profit groups. A team of judges selects the five best trees, and the winning groups win cash prizes.

TURKEY STUFF. Another worthwhile endeavor is to supply holiday meals to needy families. Partner with a local food market to get the fixings, and with your local Salvation Army or Goodwill outlet to select the families. You could also solicit nominations for deserving families from your listeners.

WINTER LIQUIDATION. Stores are clearing out snowblowers, shovels, winter clothes, winter implements. Help them!

YEAR-LONG CONTEST. Most stations run contests of various sorts throughout the year. The prizes in most small markets are fairly inexpensive. If you were to pool the entries from all those small contests, a year from now you could award, say, a $1,000 bill at a prorated cost of $83.33 per month. Set up a special interest-bearing account and make a monthly deposit. It’ll keep contest players interested. And a year from now you’ll have something exciting for your listeners.

[MARKET]’S OFFICIAL CHRISTMAS STATION. Many stations around the country are staking out holiday territory by declaring themselves their market’s “Official Christmas Station,” starting to play Christmas music earlier than everyone else, and playing either 100 percent holiday music or a very rich blend thereof.

[YOUR STATION] CARES. More than a clever slogan, this moniker can be a theme for a year-long fund-raising event for one or a series of worthy causes. You can modify the theme to fit each of a series of fund-raising efforts: “KXXX Cares for Kids” (raise money for food or clothing for underprivileged youth) … WYYY Cares for Seniors” (collect space heaters to help our elder citizens get through the winter) … and so on.