Minus 10 degrees without wind chill, highs below zero, schools closed, business closed – it must be winter. The cold is reaching into Florida, it’s rainy and cold in Seattle, the Northeast followed the Midwest with deep snows and dangerously cold temperatures, and the Southwest is probably tired of hearing about it! So, those of you in Palm Springs and Santa Barbara and Vegas – read this for the ideas it brings, for you all will, at some time, experience the opposite of your pleasant weather!
This is the time when local radio and local television shines – when there is a “crisis” that sends people to their local broadcast media for information. You can be a victim of an extreme weather situation, or you can be a problem solver.
Victims complain that they can’t get hold of anyone, that they are stuck with their kids because the schools are closed, and that the skeleton crew at the station is not able to address your needs.
Problem solvers see this as an opportunity both for themselves and their clients to make money, and to get good information out to their listeners and viewers.
Here are some thought starters for those who want to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the Polar Vortex:
- Sort your account list into categories, then focus on categories that can provide helpful goods and services. Hopefully, your CRM system has this information for you online and easily sortable. Pass over the obvious – your local hardware store is probably out of de-icer and your grocery stores have had a run on eggs, milk and bread already. Instead, look to help move goods and services that are not top-of-mind. For example, moms who thought the holiday break was too long and were anxiously awaiting back-to-school may still have kids at home. Remind them that the local indoor amusement parks are warm and ready for mid-day visits. Pet care places may have water heaters for pet water bowls (if they can’t be brought inside!). Looking ahead, call on travel agents and airlines to sell future trips to warm venues – the beach sounds mighty good right now! Brainstorm things that people need right now, and match your clients with those in need due to the cold. If you have an eMarketing tool that allows you to send out mass personalized emails, this is the time to get familiar with it, and fast.
- Sell your weather-related features. There is and has been a crawl on local television stations announcing closings. Could a strategically placed logo brand a business, while at the same time bring some revenue in the station? These are premiums right now. If your weathers are sold out, work with programming to create features such as do’s and don’ts in extreme cold that can be quickly sold.
- Change your copy. Be sure you aren’t running spots about restaurants that feature outdoor seating, or about air conditioner tune ups. Your station and your client sound as disconnected (and annoying) as the station that kept running the Santa spot into this last weekend! Again, look ahead. Your furnace clients may be swamped with fixes right now, but prepare copy for warmer weather reminding listeners and viewers what happened or could have happened to their furnace during this Big Chill, and a preventive maintenance call can keep it from happening next time.
- Be empathetic. Reassure the buyer who is working from home that her kids in the background are darling. Don’t call people “candy asses” if their businesses have closed due to the extreme cold. We are not as prepared for extreme weather as our ancestors who walked ten miles to school in the snow. Instead, make it easy for your clients to work with you via phone and computer.
- Be timely. Meaning GET TO WORK! Schools and other businesses may close, but media outlets don’t. Your clients who are closed will need your help to make up sales. You have a chance to get a jumpstart on 2014.
You can extend your holiday vacation, chilling with a hot chocolate and heated blanket, or you can heat up 2014. Your clients will warm up to you if you help them by being their problem solver.
By Kitty Malone, Efficio Solutions Manager of Client Services