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PTP Perspective

  • Writer's pictureTim Bronsil

State of the Art Then…State of the Art Now

This week, Point-To-Point Marketing celebrates its 25th anniversary. Formed during the summer of 1998 by Mark Heiden and Rick Torcasso, PTP gained a reputation for having the best strategies, quality, and experience. The company quickly attracted partnerships with the biggest radio brands in all market sizes.

That got us thinking…what have the past 25 years of radio marketing looked like? What lessons from then still resonate now? How has the landscape changed?

Let’s take a look back at then, late ’90s, to now.

Early to Late ’90s

I want my MTV…Um, Er…I Just Want My TV!

In 1998, the industry was two years into massive consolidating following the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Competitors became cluster mates, formats flipped, and the need to keep and grow a station’s audience was paramount to future success in this new landscape.

(Scott Shannon in a Z100/Film House Birthday Game commercial from the mid-90s)

Television advertising reigned as the primary go-to for radio budgets. Clusters now had the ability to negotiate better rates with two or three stations looking for bids from local TV providers. It also enabled companies like Film House to serve the creative needs of multiple stations in a cluster. And it worked. On Film House’s website, this quote from Jerry Lee/B101 Philadelphia remains: “Film House isn’t in the business of making television commercials—they’re in the business of producing great Arbitron results.”

As a young member of the industry, hearing the stories of the PD, Morning Show, and maybe GM heading to Nashville to shoot this commercial sounded rock-star level. I am sure there were dinners at The Palm and maybe some late-night camaraderie around the bar the day before the shoot.

Mid ’90s to Mid 2000s

The One to One Future

The industry started to see a shift in the allocation of marketing dollars from mass marketing to direct marketing. In 1993, The One to One Future by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers was published. Direct marketing firms began espousing the value of delivering custom messages to those most likely to listen to the station. Hundreds of copies of these books were purchased and mailed to GMs and PDs across the country. One part of my first full time job was to hand-address and mail these packages. I think back on that and I’m in awe at how many legends of the industry received that package.

The timing of this movement was opportune. Not only did it reduce the expenses needed to conduct an effective campaign, it also enabled stations to market on a more regular basis to the most important members of their database.

In the early 2000s, Point-To-Point’s Qualified Prospects program debuted. It allowed stations to map the market with households who were fans of their station, and maybe more importantly, fans of the competition. Ongoing communication to these households allowed stations to reinforce their relationship with their P1s while actively “dating” their competitor’s P1s.

At-Work Marketing

Stations that relied upon the 9am to 5pm listening period saw the value in reaching the consumer when they were going to select their listen at-work station. Throughout the ’90s and early 2000s, programs like Nest Marketing and Point-To-Point’s CLAW (Continuous Loop At Work) developed databases of listeners and their workplace information. Direct mail to these database members in the workplace provided a great opportunity to recruit additional members of that workplace. Ongoing newsletters via fax campaigns became the norm.

It was amazing to hear the calls, during agent monitoring, and how effortlessly the message from the station was received. Listeners did not view this as telemarketing. An opportunity to win $1,000? We had their attention.


Video Mailers, Birthday Cards, and…Pajamas?

With deep databases, stations started to branch out and send items other than the traditional postcard mailer. iQ Television Group headed by Tony Quin used an innovative product called Vidpak to deliver an extended commercial for a station directly into listeners’ home mailboxes. Because the message only reached those most likely to listen, this helped reduce some of the waste stations saw with mass TV advertising.

Cheaper, but maybe just as effective, stations also took advantage of birthday card mailers. Talking with Rob Sidney, former Program Director of WLYF/Miami and all-around amazing person, he remembers walking into the studio each month with a thousand cards that needed to be signed by each jock before mailing. There would always be a call, email, or a return letter stating that the card meant so much and, in some cases, was the only Happy Birthday wish they received.

Premium mailers also increased. How about your morning show mailing pajamas, scrubs, or other premium items? With a deep database including demo, zip codes, and other personal information, identifying the right people to receive these premium items became much easier.

One of my favorite Point-To-Point premium mailers was a Summer Survival Kit from JAM’N 94.5 in Boston. Included in the box were t-shirts, CDs, window decals, and gift cards. About 1,000 households around Boston received the piece. It was a blast for us to put together, and the listener feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

Fast Forward to 2023 and the State of the Art Now

Before we draw parallels between now and 1998, it is important to answer the question, “Why Do You Market?”

The primary goal is to grow recognition on behalf of compatible listeners for reasons to listen. Marketing makes a substantial contribution. The central goal is to reinforce a station’s position in their category, use appointment tactics for additional usage, and set barriers against current and future rivals. The goal is higher statistical highs and lows and long-term ratings improvement.

The examples from the late ’90s and early 2000s noted above did the following: 1) Reinforced the brand’s relative advantage, 2) Made the marketing memorable, and 3) Created advocates for the brand.

With the technology in 2023, those three things have never been easier to accomplish with your marketing.

I Still Want My TV!

There are so many ways to reach the consumer with a slickly produced spot or a more organic look behind-the-scenes video.

  • Standard TV buying is becoming less of a regular tool for stations. But, it is still happening. OTA TV has been replaced with OTT, or specific daypart purchasing, or even cable buys only into key zip codes. In PPM markets, there may only be a few hundred meters that matter to a station. Having precision can drive down the cost.

  • YouTube purchases can extend a TV buy by delivering messages in frequency to the right demos and zip codes.

  • Social channels require a different type of video for promotion. Slick, well-produced ads don’t resonate in this space the same way a trusted spokesperson for a brand (i.e., morning host) can cut through the clutter with a 30 second humorous or genuine video. And on social, you can change the creative every few days to keep it fresh and stay in front of the audience. Programs like SocialBounce identify the right social profiles to target based upon lifestyle, affinity, demographic, and geography. Ongoing campaigns can rack up millions of impressions and thousands of engagements in a short period of time.

The One to One Future Is Now

Stations who continue to cultivate databases through web entries or app registrations have the ability to bypass changes to cookies and retargeting. These registrants raised their hands and said, “You are important.”

Developing monthly and quarterly goals for ways to interact with that database provides a very cost-effective way to engage with your biggest advocates.

  • Station branded gift cards sent to key database members allow a station to surprise a listener and create overall goodwill. This also provides an opportunity to track redemption rates.

  • Push notifications to all or portions of the app database can create special engagement opportunities for the audience. Have an extra pair of tickets to a sold-out concert? Use the database to drive engagement.

Direct Mail Is Even More Effective Now Than in 1998

  • Nielsen provides a focused target for us to reach the right homes.

  • Survey-Friendly Information-Seekers are interested and can spend as much time with your mailer as they want, when they want.

  • Tactical messages fully integrate into social media to grow advocates, set barriers against rivals, and increase listening from secondary, tertiary, and non-listeners, all while reinforcing your primary listeners

  • Weaving Augmented Reality technology into direct mail delivers a more immersive experience. Q102 in Cincinnati modified their database birthday cards to include this technology. When a birthday card recipient points their phone at the card, they receive a video greeting from the staff, opportunities to enter a secret contest, the ability to stream the station, and more.

At-Work Marketing Is Alive and Thriving

Gone are the days of calling a business and gathering database information from the respondent. The cost to do this is astronomical and a waste of a station’s budget. But, there are very effective ways to target workplaces on an ongoing basis.

Each format has a target list of businesses based on a company’s Standard Industrial Code (SIC) and geography. What makes sense for an AC is different than a Classic Rock which is different than a CHR. Knowing each format’s SIC targets is the first step.

Over the past dozen years, we have placed over 42 million calls to businesses around the country on behalf of our radio and audio entertainment clients. Through this process, we have identified the businesses most likely to consume different formats. We have analyzed the business type by Standard Industrial Code.

We order the addresses of thousands of businesses. We take the physical addresses of the business types that matter to a station and put a 60-foot circle geofence around the entrances of those businesses.

Using digital ads through our Blitz+ campaign, we have a roadmap for every format to target their relative advantages to these businesses on an ongoing basis. We are highlighting everything from commercial-free hours and cash contesting to unique content and local events.

The digital ads about those brand attractions reach the most important people with high frequency.

On to the Next 25 Years

The more things change, the more they stay the same. What was true in 1998 to attract an audience is still true now in 2023.

But, the landscape has changed, both in how to reach the audience as well the choices the audience has for consumption. To stand out in 2023, your brand needs your relative advantages on display on a regular basis in front of the people who can make a difference. The tools to do that now are plentiful.

Don’t know where to start? Let’s have a conversation. You will find that we’re an open book. In fact, 25 years into the game, our clients continue to describe us as...

Contact info: Tim Bronsil:, 513.702.5072


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