What Always Works
May 29, 2012
It's sad, but unless I can supply data and results from a previous station's use of the promotion, many, many of my (U.S.) clients won't do it.
So with most stations playing it extremely cautious and close to the vest and taking few if any risks, here are some things that are as close to being "givens" as you can get. If you're going to be safe then at least know what is going to always work.
Limousines - Most people will never ride in a limo except, maybe, on their wedding day. Consequently, if you park them in the back of a stretch, this will be a big deal for them. Adding a ride to a screening to the next giveaway of some awful Nicholas Cage movie will elevate it. It makes it just a little larger.
Pizza - It's the Food Universal. Go out and ask 1,000 people and 998 of them will like pizza. They'll all differ about what kind of pizza, but most will like it.
Movies - They are the Entertainment Universal. The pizza math applies to films. Doubt me? Go on FB and post some TMZ gossip about some famous-for-being-famous celebrity. And then post, "What was the first R-rated movie you ever saw … with your parents?" Add a movie element and it's a home run. In January, I once did Movies For A Year and 20 people got a pair of tickets to every screening in the market. You'd have thought we were giving away oil wells.
Dropping Stuff - There's something about dropping a pumpkin or a copying machine or 1000 ping-pongs that is loud and visual and always, ALWAYS works.
Invert A Billboard - Anytime you flip the artwork on one of your boards for a day, the phones and e-mail and FB will blow up. You suddenly got the listeners to stop using you passively, if even for a day. It's hard to beat stations that do that.
Losing A Digit - If you lose a digit and suddenly become, say, 5.7 Mix FM, it will be the biggest contest you ever do.
Field Trips - Most of your listeners will never socialize with their co-workers outside of work. So, any time you can get people out of their offices, together, having fun, you win. As witnessed by the Field Trips that Rewind does in Cincinnati.
Male Strippers - Guys can go and watch sad women take their clothes off for money pretty much any time. Women? It's more situational. Someone needs to create the event or opportunity for this to happen. When you add male dancers to an event, it will be huge. Always. Period. As witnessed by the Bachelorette Balls at Wild in SFO, Booty Cruise at KDWB, Deer Widows Ball at any of a hundred stations and Nuts At Noon in Birmingham.
Kids & Pets - These are the two Muthers of all Hot Buttons. It's how you "get" your listeners. Through their kids and pets.
"We Apologize"- is the neutron bomb of curve balls. You can only do it once, but it kills everything, leaving only buildings and cockroaches.
Meeting Celebrities - Most of your listeners will never meet a celebrity. So something like backstage passes or a chance to sit and listen to Jason Mraz play in the conference room, is a life altering experience for them … an experience that we've dumbed-down and chlorinated so that it pretty much means nothing.
Shaking Hands - No form of marketing will ever beat meeting listeners and metaphorically shaking their hands. It's hard but it works. Whoever shakes the most hands will almost always win.
Getting On TV- This is the primary motivation for pretty much everything we do. So, for the 1,000th time: Doing a gas promotion, where you take over a location and pump cars, will always get you press. And … Diaper Crawls. Anytime you lay out a course in a mall, and have bunnies (Easter), reindeer (Christmas), turkeys (Thanksgiving) or just "babies" in diapers crawling, you will get TV.
As witnessed by KHTT in Tulsa, where they first hit all the media with press releases attached to diapers. Here is a link to one of the two TV stories on it: http://www.kjrh.com/dpp/news/local_news/diaper-derby
And from Carly Rush: "We held the event at a local mall … 18 babies raced, five at a time, then the winners of the four heats had a crawl-off. The place was packed, logo EVERYWHERE. The track was actually made out of strips of disposable banners and decorated with colored duct tape and orange cones to make it look like a road. Austin, our guy in the morning, did hilarious play-by-play, very entertaining! I took your advice to deliver a unique press release, a diaper with a toy and the press release attached. I got lots of giggles from the receptionists. And, as you predicted, we had two TV stations come out and cover the event. The mall marketing director, who paid for the promotion, was thrilled. It really could not have gone better, and we'll probably do it again next year!"