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The Hidden Power of Messaging

posted by Fiona

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Recently I was in a local toy shop, I was looking for a present for a friends 6 year old boy. As I entered I heard a familiar voice. That of a presenter from a local commercial radio station. I was surrounded by diggers, train sets, small alien figurines and getting ideas of what a 6yr old boy would like. When the local station suddenly played an advert for a nearby toy super store. The store had advertised a competitor!

Hearing this message had raised my curiosity. So, whilst asking advice on my choice of birthday present, I mentioned to the shop owner that I had heard the advert and asked for their thoughts. The answer I got was surprising. I had asked why they chose to use a commercial radio station, instead of other options. It was “easy”. I come in the morning and turn the radio on. I don’t have to think about it and I like the chat during the day.

It was “easy” to advertise competitors (whose pricing was better than his).
He liked the phone-ins.
He paid PRS and PPL Licence fees allowing him to play anything he likes.
So why choose to advertise a competitor?

I handed over my business card and explained what it is that we do. He was (pardon the punn) amazed.  He could get a playlist, which he could update as many times as he liked. With no adverts for any one else, he could even create messages to personalise it.

We discussed, instead of a sales message, something for the kids to help keep them entertained in the stores. We came up with an eye spy/hide and seek idea. Previously the owner had “hidden” a number of pictures around the store and had handwritten posters “find the rainbow and get a prize!” Fully stocked with sugar free lollies and balloons the owner had thought it was a great idea to get kids excited in the store. The problem was the posters weren’t working.

I suggested a fun advert with the voice of a clown with fun sound effects to get the kids interested. A novel and simple idea of randomised adverts throughout the day to keep the kids (and parents) entertained and more attentive whilst walking around the store – certainly a better option that hearing an advert for a business rival.

Following our conversation it was clear that there was more that he could do to engage his customers rather than let them listen to radio phone-ins. The added value of the in-store “games” was beyond the joy he got from the talk shows on the radio. He doesn’t have time to listen to the chat shows any more , he is too busy handing out balloons and lollies (as long as parents agree) to his new and engaged customers.

By thinking outside of the normal commercial messaging idea, we were able to think up some great ideas. Next time you are shopping, listen out for the music- is it appropriate for the audience, are the messages engaging, effective or annoying? What engages you as a shopper ? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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