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SYNDICATION 101... Trade Support

One of the ancillary areas of radio-marketing is called trade-support. Trade support is where you "support" the trade magazines / newspapers / websites that pertain to your business, by buying ads in them. In radio syndication, your basic trades are Talkers, R&R, Radio Ink, Small Market Radio Newsletter, CMJ, Chart, Billboard, Mouth, AdWeek, Advertising Age, All Access, Inside Radio, Radio Business Report, Radio World, and The Current.

The idea of trade support is three fold: First, your ad will carry important info about the current state of marketing of your show. Second, since your ad is appearing in something which is read by many radio people, these people will feel more at ease in considering your show, since they know that their counterparts at other stations will be seeing the same thing. (This does not happen if you just mail your info directly to the stations, since no one knows who else is getting it.) And finally, when you give money to the trades, you dramatically increase your chance of an editorial write up.

It should be pointed out that the purpose of a trade ad is NOT to make people call you; these ads are not like direct-response or classifieds, where the only purpose of the ad is to generate calls. Instead, trade ads are designed to work like brand builders... building the awareness of your show in the minds of the radio people, much like a billboard would do for Pepsi. Many beginners make the mistake of placing trade ads and expecting stations to call them from it. It doesn't happen.

As for the type of ad to place, take into consideration that marketing a syndicated show is an extremely long term project, and it should be looked at in terms of years. Thus, I'd recommend taking your ad budget and dividing it up so that you can have a presence in each issue of the trade for an entire year. Keep in mind that basic awareness will not even begin until about six months into it. And good awareness will take the entire year to occur. Thus, a nice small ad, maybe something so simple as just the show's name, is all that is needed as long as you keep it in every issue.

Bigger ads (say, 1/4 page) would have room for pictures of the host. And even bigger ads (1/2 page) would also have room for show-delivery info. And as you start nearing full-page size, you can start inserting call letters, thus creating a story from issue to issue, showing how you are adding stations each month, and, what these stations are saying about your show.

You'll also want to include a link to the radio-only portion of your marketing info on your site. If you are buying a printed ad, then just include the URL of your radio info (which is probably a separate page from your consumer info.) If your ad is on a site, then just link to your radio info page.

One big decision you're going to have to make is what people you want to reach at the stations. You'll have to choose mostly between programming, sales, and some engineering. And the programming is sometimes divided up into on-air (talent) and off-air (PD, etc.) You always want to hit station management, but at small stations (where you should be starting), management has their finger on all these areas anyway, so they are hit by default. So your choice of trades, and your position within the trades, will be determined by who you want to reach.

As for cost, a 1/4 page ad in a typical trade is going to run between $5k and $15k per year, as would a banner in an online/email trade. This is probably a good start.

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