Monday, March 12, 2012

You Wanna Sell HD Radio Receivers?

Yes, it's an awful pun...but guinea pigs do "wheek".
Sales of HD Radio receivers are perennially weak in the USA.  There's a simple reason: nobody knows about it.  Consumers aren't aware, because nobody is telling them about it.  Because they're not aware, they're not asking for HD Radio receivers.  And because they're not asking for HD Radio receivers, nobody has any incentive to make them available to buy in the first place.
This is a vicious cycle and it's especially true in cars...where the bulk of high-value radio listening takes place.  Auto manufacturers (OEM's) don't care because their dealers aren't reporting any consumer demand for HD Radio.  And OEM's do care about companies like Microsoft and XM/Sirius who're paying those OEM's a lot of money to add products like Sync and satellite radio to the dashboard.

Radio doesn't have a single, unifying organization that can afford to step up and pay auto OEM's the big bucks to demand HD Radio's be offered as standard equipment in cars, as opposed to seldom-offered "options" (and only on the high-end models at that).

So instead, the onus falls on the individual stations/clusters to do that.  But how?  By taking a page out of the guerrilla marketing textbook: if you can't afford to market your product, have your customers market it for you.

More after the jump!

Auto OEM's aren't caring about HD Radio because the dealers aren't seeing customer demand for it, right?  So create some demand.   Most towns have their auto dealerships clustered into a single region called an "automile".   Your station should therefore buy a billboard at either end of the automile that says this and only this:

The idea is that everyone driving to the dealer who's about to purchase a new car will then ask the dealer: What's this HD Radio thing I heard about?    It doesn't matter that the dealer can't necessarily offer it, what matters is that paying customers at the dealer are telling the dealer about it.   That means the dealer sees consumer demand, and that ultimately translates into more auto OEM's making HD Radio more available.

Remember: don't put any station branding on the billboard.  The idea is to be mysterious: you want people to read that billboard and NOT know exactly what you're talking about.   You want them perplexed and curious enough to ask the car dealer about it.

And bear in mind that like all guerrilla marketing, this is not a perfect science.  It's possible, even likely, that a lot of dealers...when asked by customers...will simply assume the customer is talking about satellite radio.  Ouch.  But over time the dealers will hear "HD Radio" "HD Radio" "HD Radio" "HD Radio" "HD Radio" enough, and enough customers will be smart enough to know that it's not satellite radio.   Eventually, the theory goes, there'll be enough consumer demand (there's that magic buzzword!) to start making the auto OEM's sit up and take notice.   Not bad for the cost of one or two billboards!

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