Chicago Radio’s Untapped Source of Revenue is Chicago Tech’s Huge Marketing Mistake

A path to sales & marketing success in the Chicago market has been in front of radio and tech this entire time.

This post isn’t about the Loyola Ramblers men’s basketball team not having a Chicago radio home. But there’s a Texas-size #FinalFour amount of business opportunity for the school and radio station(s) that put together an innovative broadcast plan for the 2018–19 season.

Check that.

The amount of broadcast business opportunity isn’t the size of Texas. Or Minnesota. It’s the size of the USA. The entire country. America’s Team needs a place to be heard. (And seen, more often.)

That’s if the University makes finding a radio home a priority.

Maybe they have. I really don’t know.

There’s business opportunity in carrying the Loyola Ramblers men’s basketball games on the radio. Revenue opportunities and marketing opportunities for all involved.

But there’s even more opportunity to be found in Chicago’s tech community.

And that should be music to the ears of those running Chicago’s radio stations.

So why don’t I hear local tech companies on the air?

My evidence is largely anecdotal.

I don’t hear any Chicago tech companies using local radio for sales and marketing purposes. Not today. I may have heard one area company, one time, over this past winter sponsor a network talk show. I think. Something about payroll services. Maybe.

I’ve heard North Suburban Grainger run radio spots as part of their network sports sponsorships during Westwood One-produced football and basketball game coverage, and I’ve heard a tech company or two (not in Chicago) sponsor CBS Radio Network newscasts at the top of some hours, but that’s it.

All around lost opportunity.

Because in the sea of area car dealerships, local bars, restaurants and fast food joints, law firms and entertainment venues lies a local tech community that sits on hundreds of millions of dollars of investment. According to Built in Chicago, Chicago tech raised $500 million this year — in the first four months alone.

Yet none use Chicago radio to launch their companies. None use the medium to launch their products or services, to support their brand and image, to enable their sales and marketing team with the immediacy and intimacy only radio can deliver.

At least I don’t hear it. And I listen.

To be sure there are problems on both sides: the radio side, and the tech side.

But both are missing the boat on this one.

The problem on the radio side is somewhat straight forward: marketers and business developers likely don’t know how to approach tech companies about using radio. And the comfort zone of selling into dealerships and the like is the path of least resistance. So the tech sector is ignored — or likely last on the targeted account list.

But here’s a hint to radio’s sales and marketing new business revenue generators: Understand the launch calendar of the tech company and you can understand how radio can add strategic value to tech’s marketing plan. Every tech company will launch their company and every single tech company will have (or should have) a launch plan for their products and services. Uncover the launch plans, and that’s your opening.

That’s not a cure-all for selling radio into tech, but it’s where I’d start.

I’d also start by following local tech community websites such as Built in Chicago, 1871 Chicago and the Illinois Technology Association. There are other groups and investor sites, but those three immediately come to mind…

Launch plans have budget behind them. And they make sense to CEOs, CMOs, Boards of Directors, VCs and investors.

The problem with the Chicago tech side is sightly more complicated, but the issue boils down to one simple observation: Chicago tech has no idea how to use Chicago radio. Never really has.

I’ve been in radio, and I’ve marketed for tech companies — some in Chicago.

The vast majority of marketing and business leaders at Chicago tech companies have never used radio as a medium for lead generation, sales support, the customer experience, branding or company and product launches.

They don’t know how to use radio. Radio is foreign to them. Scary. Unknown.

They need to learn and get over it.

And for Chicago tech there’s more. Because it gets worse. Much, much worse.

Every Chicago tech company is looking for a path to grow. To rapidly break out. To achieve the business outcomes they and their investors demand and so desperately desire. But it’s slow going because it’s hard to break out of the mosh pit when everybody is doing the exact same thing — at least when it comes to marketing, lead generation and sales support. Marketers are all too eager to place their chips on robotic activities and comfort zone tasks such as ‘digital’ and social marketing, email, webinars, conferences, events and trade shows, sales enablement schemes and MarTech devices. Add to the mix carbon copy, product-centric websites, sleep-inducing corporate presentations, amateur-level video content and the accepting nature of the company echo chamber and it’s easy to see how many are left with mediocre and disappointing results from the items on yet another tech marketing template checklist.

Exacerbating the situation is the fact that those long-in-the-tooth marketing activities can cost five- six- and seven-figures each and often produce evasive and lackluster results. Not to disparage the marketing lot, if done correctly some of those activities can produce positive outcomes — but they remain commonplace. And the situation becomes progressively worse when senior leadership or investors don’t bother to ask the truly tough questions about marketing ROI in the aftermath of any one significant expenditure.

As a larger example of the cluttered tech landscape, 2018’s MarTech 5000 was released on April 24. There are 6,829 marketing technology solutions on the eye chart graphic from 6,242 unique marketing technology vendors. Many of these companies do business in Chicago. Others undoubtedly want to do business in Chicago. But I can close my eyes and listen to the number of radio spots these companies run in the third largest market in the US.

I may have heard one on the car radio.

Yesterday.

But when I got home I couldn’t find the company on the Web, and I haven’t heard the spot again.

How will any one company break out of that mosh pit by going to market in the exact same fashion as every one of its competitors?

There will be those who will balk at using Chicago radio for marketing and sales. They would prefer to remain in the mosh pit of carbon copy Go-to-Market plans that produce the same non-creative, less-than optimal business results as everybody else. You’ll find them on stage taking part in boring panel discussions — and paying for the privilege. You’ll find them alone in the back of the trade show’s convention hall — and paying thousands for the privilege. You’ll find them ill-prepared to speak on a webinar — and paying tens of thousands for the sponsorship privilege. You’ll find their poorly worded, poorly timed emails spit out by their expensive, subscription-based siloed technology cluttering your email inbox.

Where you won’t find them is on the radio.

There’s a reason the average Chief Marketing Officer doesn’t last very long. Maybe this will help.

Radio drips with opportunity for those Chicago tech companies seeking to produce extraordinary results from creative, sales-oriented approaches to the market.

And it drips with opportunity for those Chicago stations that understand how to add value to a tech company’s sales, marketing and launch calendar.

I’m certain that there are those at many Chicago tech companies who will jump at the chance to use Chicago radio as an integral part of the sales and marketing mix. They’ll realize that radio offers an immediate, customizable and cost-efficient vehicle for market communication and interaction. (Just compare radio production costs to video.) Tech marketers will further realize that they can be effective using any one of a number of Chicago’s radio formats — not just business or talk. The idea of using radio to address multiple, segmented audiences with timely, powerful messages is vastly superior when matched up against vague and poorly written emails, text-heavy websites and glossed-over social media content. Astute tech markets will also know how to gather data generated by radio listenership, and measure business outcomes against marketing budget, expenditures and programmatic activities.

Chicago’s radio offers offers a wide-open landscape of opportunity for Chicago tech.

It’s open for your tech business — and for your competitors.

And it’s open for the Loyola Ramblers. Let’s not forget about them.

But Loyola is at a disadvantage. Their local and in-state sports rivals are already on the radio. I can’t find any local tech companies on any local radio station.

So I’ll keep repeating the message about using radio, because frequency sells.

In Consumer. In B2B. In Tech. And in Athletics.

Frequency sells. Always.

I’ll take a rock-solid local radio marketing and advertising campaign over a high-priced 3-day snooze fest of a convention or trade show in a city 1000 miles away — any day of the week.

Tony Compton holds two degrees from Loyola University Chicago: a 1987 B.A. in Communication and a 1995 MBA. Tony was on WLUW’s staff from 1983–1988 and served as the station’s General Manager from September 1990 until December 1993.

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Producer/Host: Now That’s a Marketing Podcast! | Cranking it up for those wearing 1000 Marketing Hats | Apple, Spotify, Google, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio & more

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Tony Compton

Tony Compton

Producer/Host: Now That’s a Marketing Podcast! | Cranking it up for those wearing 1000 Marketing Hats | Apple, Spotify, Google, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio & more

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