Monthly Archives: February 2013

Digital radio switchover is a marathon, not a sprint


Canny marketing can make change desirable, says Dan Todaro

The government is committed to turning off the FM radio signal, but there will be no analogue switch-off until digital listening reaches 50%. At the moment that would likely miss the 2015 target date. Nevertheless, the benefits of DAB have been compared to the switch from AM to FM as the preferred medium: digital radio offers greater choice to the listener with better reception and superior sound quality.

Public reaction has ranged from embrace to indifference and outright resistance; digital listening currently stands at 31.3%.

Digital Radio UK has gone to great effort to get the ball rolling, with a national campaign to boost public awareness. Now with government backing, the switchover will no doubt prove a success.

It can be argued that the slow public response is down to people simply not quite ‘getting’ digital radio. However, given the lessons of the TV switchover, this isn’t such a difficult obstacle. People didn’t understand the TV process either; at first, many viewers questioned why anyone would need more than five channels – and was their TV really not going to work after the change?

But with teams of trained specialists offering in-store advice and demonstrations, experts manning a call centre and a national marketing campaign, the public understood, and finally embraced, the process.

Digital mascot D Love follows in the footsteps of the advocates of new services to TV viewers, such as Digit Al and ITV Digital’s Monkey. Executing this campaign has undoubtedly helped to spread information about the radio switchover. It is vital to have a marketing campaign in 2013 to reach as many radio listeners as possible, educating them about the imminent changes ahead.

This also applies to brands, which can also push the cause forward. Manufacturers and retailers also need to be encouraged to champion the switchover and aid that point of realisation among the public, underpinned by D Love and messaging. Significantly, BMW now offers DAB radio as standard across its entire range and owners of older models can upgrade.

It cannot be overstated how much of a coup this is for the switchover movement considering the previous reluctance of brands to drive the campaign, largely due to a fear of alienating consumers. Now, potentially, a whole generation of car owners will only know DAB and will in turn apply the technology to their homes.

The triumph of the TV switchover proves that, while change can be unsettling and the outcome unknown, in this context it is a positive and proves that the public can embrace new systems if guided correctly. Yes, people don’t like change, but the radio switchover will nevertheless take place when the listening figure exceeds 50%. And now, after an initial lack of enthusiasm to adapt to digital TV, people can’t get enough of pausing and rewinding shows, on demand content and even 3D TV.

The TV switchover was achieved through effective advertising, shop-floor training and raising public awareness. With a renewed emphasis and investment from the authorities, the digital radio campaign can be galvanised into further action to push DAB forward for a successful switchover ahead of the 2015 deadline.

Dan Todaro is managing director of marketing agency Gekko.

Is your business playing the field?


Dan Todaro, MD of tech field marketing agency Gekko, explains how field marketing can boost toy sales

Recent Gekko research shows that almost a quarter (23%) of shoppers say they would be very unlikely to purchase tech-led products, like kids’ tablets, without having some kind of in store interaction or demonstration beforehand. What’s more, 44% of respondents said they would like more interaction with brands in store and the same number (44%) said that it would tempt them to spend more on related accessories and products.  In such a tumultuous economic environment, brands would be foolish to ignore such obvious cries for attention from consumers.  Properly trained, dynamic brand ambassadors, who can give detailed demonstrations and showcase the toys’ key features, are vital when the consumer reaches that point where they decide either to buy or to walk away.

As is the case with most industries right now, toy manufacturers are feeling the pinch as consumers tighten their belts and look for the best deals out on the high street. Hasbro recently announced a 40% increase in TV, social and online advertising budgets, due to a 12% drop in boys’ toys sales.  The company is putting this down to a lack of screen time promotion, with no film or TV tie ups to boost merchandise sales. However, brands should not be so quick to assume the reasons why sales may have dropped, or indeed that the solution is to increase investment in ATL and online channels.

An additional investment in field marketing activity can be hugely impactful for toy brands, and if done correctly, can reap massive rewards without putting a big dent in marketing budgets.

There is no doubt that other marketing channels have a huge role to play throughout the festive period, and it’s not surprising that Hasbro is investing money in TV, social and online.  However, the sales can be hugely boosted by well trained, knowledgeable brand representatives, who can make a connection with parents and leave them with a memorable impression of both the product and the brand.  After all, an impressed, engaged parent means a purchase is likely, leading to a happy child, and ultimately, a successful brand.

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