December 21st, 2011
TV stations spend literally millions of dollars of air time each year trumpeting their brand statement on ID’s, news opens, promos, graphics inside the newscasts the list goes on and on. The ROI (return on investment) for these expenditures is negligible at best for 99% of the TV stations.
AR&D’s extensive national research database shows these – to many of you I’m sure – shocking numbers when it comes to TV station brand statements. When we ask – “Are you familiar with the phrase (BRAND STATEMENT) being used by a local newscast? – 69% of respondents say “Yes.” Not a bad number you say.
But then we probe deeper – asking “Which station uses (BRAND STATEMENT)?” The number drops perceptibly to 43%. What? While 7-of-10 say they are familiar with the brand statement – only 4-of-10 can correctly connect it with the proper station. As an advertiser would you continue to invest your dollars in this venture?
And then the other shoe falls when we ask those same respondents – “Does (BRAND STATEMENT) make you more likely to watch their local newscast?” AR&D Vice President Of Research Rory Ellender says “that number falls to a pathetic 15%.” Think about that – you spend millions of dollars in airtime, thousands of hours of staff time creating the promos and graphics – and less than half can name the correct station, and 2 people out of 10 say it compels them to watch your newscast. UGH!
So where is the disconnect? Our research points the finger at a number of reasons:
- Aspiration Marketing – too many stations create promotional spots of what the newscasts “aspire” to be. But the newscasts don’t deliver on the advertising promises. That is a huge disconnect for viewers.
- Generic Brand Statements – using a brand message that claims something like, “Live, Local, Breaking News” – is too generic. Viewers typically ascribe those attributes to their favorite station (after all that’s why they watch it) – so it is nearly impossible to stake an exclusive claim on any of them.
- No Emotional Connection – many brand statements become vanilla because they don’t generate any emotional attachment to the station. For instance, “(Market’s) News Channel.” Hard to imagine what’s in that for me as a viewer.
- Who Cares Brand Statements – these tout attributes that no one cares about, for instance, “(market’s) News Leader.” First of all, our research shows no one cares about which station is #1 or which station has the largest news staff etc. Once again, they assume their favorite station is #1 or has the best news-gathering staff etc.
So, I know what you’re saying – tell me already what works? How do we fix this situation? It is actually a very simple answer – but the solution is complicated.
The simple answer – Find out what attributes are most important to viewers where you live? Then ask them, “Is any station, including your favorite, delivering that important attribute (i.e. brand)?” Researcher Ellender says, “we call that the Opportunity Gap – it is an attribute that viewers really value and desire, but no station, not even their favorite, is delivering it. So, if your station can deliver on it you will attract more viewers to your newscasts.”
The complicated part – showcasing this brand attribute in your newscasts every day in a way that makes them unique and sets them apart from the competition. Once this is achieved then you can begin using the brand statement. You also must create and deliver an image campaign that promotes the viewer-value of this unique, and most desired, brand attribute.
And, if you doubt the power of this research-newscast delivery-clear marketing promise combination let me give you the most extreme example during my two decades with AR&D. I was consulting a TV station in Honolulu – the land of sunshine, swaying palm trees, warm tropical breezes – and SEVERE WEATHER!
That’s right, AR&D research showed a huge opportunity gap in severe weather coverage. When I suggested my client become Hawaii’s Severe Weather Station you can imagine the shock and skepticism. The general manager questioned my sanity. The competition teased our news crews mercilessly when they were in the field together. But the power of exploitation of the Opportunity Gap was amazing even in what many considered a radical idea. The station’s news and marketing departments did a terrific job on making it happen.
The station’s newscasts delivered on the promise, and made weather coverage a priority in their newscasts. The marketing followed with some great Hawaii-centric promotion. The station broke out of the pack – and knocked off the longtime Honolulu leader. The weather cooperated with torrential rains, mud slides, flooding and hurricane threats along the way. Some Hawaii natives even blamed the station for this crazy weather – saying “this never happened before you started calling yourself Hawaii’s severe weather station.”
There are many other AR&D client markets where this strong exploitation of the Opportunity Gap has taken stations to #1. How about your brand statement? Does it sell something viewers in your market really care about it? Is it a unique promise that is delivered every day in every newscast? If the answers are no – it is time to stop throwing away all those dollars.