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Advertising Is About Memories, Not Sales

“We would have a hard time justifying our sales proposals if it were based on these rare occasions where someone was persuaded by an ad to buy something they normally wouldn’t.”

Jeff Caves



Many times, I have been asked if my advertising campaign is going to work for the client. Most often that means will they make more sales, get more calls, make more appointments, or get a lift in traffic to their website. Sometimes, when pressed, I have said, “half of all money spent on advertising is wasted; the trouble is we don’t know which half.” 

I borrowed that from John Wanamaker, the Godfather of advertising. I need to stop saying that. Wanamaker said that over 100 years ago. We all gotta do better than 50%. 

John Wanamaker - Wikipedia

I set out to do that and landed on an Australian institute, the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, E-B for short. They are the world’s largest entity doing scientific research into marketing.

I wanted to know why advertising doesn’t work more often than 50%. E-B claims that If you believe the primary outcome of advertising is to persuade people to buy things they normally wouldn’t, then advertising will mostly disappoint. Talk about setting expectations! Advertising can persuade, sometimes, for some people, in certain conditions, it just doesn’t do this often according to E-B.

It makes sense and supports my assertion that we should go hunting for ducks during duck season and we shouldn’t hunt bear with a BB gun. I don’t hunt by the way.

We would have a hard time justifying our sales proposals if it were based on these rare occasions where someone was persuaded by an ad to buy something they normally wouldn’t. E-B says that is not the most common benefit a brand gets from advertising. Brands are made by memories. Advertising is just a broad name for company-controlled creative activity aimed at shaping buyer memories in the brand’s future favor. A buyer’s memory is one of the most efficient sources of information (even for a google search you need to remember what to type).

Advertising can freshen memories for a specific brand, to make the brand easier to retrieve. E-B calls it Creative Publicity – a way to publicize the brand, remind people of what it does and when to buy it, and on occasion, share some new news such as informing about a new offer being launched. For maximum effect on a buyer’s memory to translate into sales, these 3 fails need to be fixed to help advertising work more often.

  1. FAILURE TO REACH – For a business, or as they put it a “brand”, to grow, they need to reach out to as many category buyers as possible. Often reach failure happens at the planning stage, where marketers don’t plan for reach in the first place. We are guilty of that in radio scheduling if we don’t run spots Monday-Sunday 6am-12 midnight or on more stations in our cluster that reach a similar demographic. It also happens at the creative stage where the plan might be in place, but the creative just doesn’t get any attention. We have all just mailed it in occasionally. We need to work to eliminate empty copy with no direct action or benefit. Write comedic spots or live reads that are direct and action oriented. For advertising to work, these distribution issues of planning, delivering, noticing, and failures in reach need to be fixed. 
  2. FAILURE TO BRAND – E-B points out that the brand name is the anchor of the exposure. If listeners remember that funny ad about a guy and his wife and have no idea who the ad was for, that’s a fail. Much of the reach will be wasted because it failed to brand. The point E-B makes is that advertising must work for the brand, nobody else. A tire dealer sponsoring the Indy 500 is a good idea but not necessarily adjacent to a trivia segment. When we write commercials, schedule ads or involve clients in promotion, we need to keep in mind the client.  
  3. FAILURE TO BE BUYABLE – E-B reminds us that the best advertising in the world doesn’t translate into sales if physical availability is lacking, and the brand is not easy to find and buy. If a store or business is in a bad location, there is only so much we can do to change that. If, however, you are working with a car dealer in an auto mall, help them stand out from the other dealers in the mall. Research offers and merchandising techniques that will make their cars stand out in a crowd at the right time. Suggest a convertible sale in the summer or 4-wheel drive sale in the snow. Put those cars on the front row and feature them in your copy. Have fun with a serious subject like Covid 19 and move all pick up trucks near a curbside and advertise the new ‘curbside pickup’ line of trucks. Bad location retailers can do special on-site sales or buy booths in trade shows. 

By implementing some of these changes maybe we can improve our 50% success rate to 66%. Cause 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. 

BSM Writers

Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing

…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.




In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.

“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.

“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”

Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.

The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?

That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.

You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.

“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”

Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.

Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”

Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”

Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”

Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”

It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.


I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.

My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.

My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.

After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.

Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.

Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”

My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.

My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.

Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.

And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.

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BSM Writers

Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.

Jeff Caves



Radio Sales

A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours. 

But is that why you sell sports radio?

In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.

A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family. 

Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.  

I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.

Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important. 

So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table



Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.

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