Radio Co-hosting Sponsorship vs Inbound Marketing - src = wikimedia commonsOn my way in to work this week, I was listening to local talk radio.  For several years, the owner of a car dealership has co-hosted a 30-minute automobile industry segment every weekday morning.  It is a paid sponsorship with an advertisement for the owner’s dealership mixed in the other advertisements.

It occurred to me that this radio segment co-hosting is in some ways similar to Inbound Marketing.  I’ll do my best to be objective about some of the similarities and differences as we compare the two below in Radio Co-hosting Sponsorship vs. Inbound Marketing . . .


  • Content Creation – We’re always quick to point out that “interruption advertising” has lost a great deal of its past effectiveness and therefore the ROI of ads of any kind, radio included, has to be carefully considered. Co-hosting a radio segment as an expert in the industry, however, is actually creating content that people are there to listen to, not interrupting another program.  The dealer is creating the content, not interrupting it.
  • Soft Sale – A fine line has to be treaded with radio segment sponsorship as with Inbound Marketing.  The dealer is there to provide great content, but his end goal is to sell more cars.  The dealership name is mentioned at the beginning of the show each day and the dealership gets a couple of the radio spot ads.  Otherwise, he doesn’t say “Come down to the dealership where you can buy one of these fancy new cars I’m talking about.”  In the same way, educating through Top-of-the-funnel blog posts can’t sell too hard.  Your goal is to earn trust and let the sale happen organically over time.  Don’t push too hard.
  • Displays Expertise – This dealer has to fill up 30 minutes of talk time a day.  That is not easy.  Sometimes he riffs off the cuff and sometimes he will read articles he finds in various places. But even though he’s just regurgitating what he finds elsewhere, I would guess this guy is more well-versed in his industry than the other guys screaming at me on the TV. All I know is that those guys know how to be loud.  This guy knows his stuff because he has to educate himself and us continuously.  Content marketers gain a reputation as experts as well.  Which leads me to . . .
  • Education is the Goal – The goal of talk radio is to entertain and educate.  This guy has to keep educating us or the radio station will dump him.  He has to earn attention, not just buy it.  Inbound Marketers have to earn the visitor’s trust and attention in just the same way.
  • Long-Term Commitment – This industry expert has been on the radio for several years co-hosting this show.  I can’t imagine he got into this thinking he would hit it for a week, make a bunch of money selling cars that week and bail.  Content marketing doesn’t work that way.  What he’s done over the last few years is earn the trust of regular listeners.  Inbound Marketers have to make the same kind of commitment.  This is not a flash-in-the-pan marketing avenue.  You will see substantial results, but it takes time.


  • Sound Waves Evaporate – Let’s start with the most obvious.  As soon as that radio segment is over, all the content the dealer just shared is gone.  The radio station does have the last 3 days recordings on their website, but it goes away pretty quickly.  It evaporates.  Compare that with Inbound Marketing.  Content creation by Inbound Marketers is built to last.  We refer to blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers, infographics, videos, etc. as DURABLE ASSETS.  Those durable assets snowball over time.  Blog posts written years ago continue to draw search traffic just like the one we posted on Wednesday.  This will be a major theme in our new eBook coming out soon.  Stay tuned.
  • Wrong Time – Radio segment co-hosting does not reach the potential buyer at the right time.  It’s just a hunch that if we broadcast enough, some people listening will be in the buying pattern and we’ll capture them.  Inbound Marketing is all about being very attractive and find-able to potential buyers when they are in the buying cycle.  Which brings me to the next difference.
  • Unsearchable – There is no text transcript of the segment.  As you know, Google doesn’t index sound waves.  When Inbound Marketers use podcasting and video, we always create a transcript so all of that content creation effort doesn’t evaporate into the ether without some handles for Google to grab a-hold of.
  • Unmeasurable – It is very difficult for the segment sponsor to truly assess the effectiveness of the program.  He has no idea exactly how many people were listening on Friday morning.  He has no idea if they were more interested in the segment in which he talked about the importance of oil changes or the one when he talked about the removal of the CD player as a standard feature.  He has no idea if the segment on oil changing led to people contacting his dealership.  With Inbound Marketing, we can tell EXACTLY how many people viewed an item.  We know EXACTLY how they got to the content and what search terms they used.  We know EXACTLY how many of them gave us permission to continue educating them.  We know EXACTLY how many of them turned into customers and clients.   We can turn right around and give an EXACT account of return on investment.  With all of this EXACT DATA, we can determine which content, methods, and channels are working for the client and make adjustments to increase ROI.  We call it closed-loop analytics and it is powerful stuff.
  • Barriers to Entry – The radio listener has no way to immediately take the next step with the dealership.  The dealer has to hope that when the listener gets home, they will call the dealership.  Or they hope that they will come by on Saturday morning after hearing the broadcast on Tuesday.  With Inbound Marketing, the potential customer has every capability of taking the next step with the company at that very moment.  They are sitting down in front of a computer with a phone handy and time to call.  They can fill out a form to get more information.  They can subscribe to your blog right then and there.  They can instantly like you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter.  Those are what we call conversions.  And those are pretty cumbersome with radio.
  • No Permission Gained – With radio advertising, you hope people will listen, but you get ZERO permission to continue to market to them in the future.  With Inbound Marketing, when you gain someone’s attention and trust, you get permission to continue sending them marketing signals over and over and over again.
  • Limited Reach – Radio segment co-hosting may hit some of the right demographic for this local car dealership.  There are a lot of us middle-age guys listening to local talk radio.  But what about the single moms who need a reliable car.  What about the teenager who listens to nothing but music?  What about the potential buyer two hours away who would drive to the dealership, but the radio signal doesn’t reach that far?  With Inbound Marketing there are no limitations on demographics or geography.  Everybody uses Google and everybody can get to it.
  • Unsharable – Go ahead.  Try and share the radio show on Facebook and Twitter.  Let us know how that goes.

Of all of the forms of traditional media advertising, radio segment co-hosting may be the best available.  We tip our hats to content creators who do their job well.  Kudos, Lennie Lawson of Gateway Ford Lincoln Mercury.  You do a great job with the show.  And since you don’t give us a headache with obnoxious TV ads, we’ll even throw a link your way.  If you ever decide you want your content to be durable, timely, searchable, measurable, “convert”-able, permissible, unlimited, and sharable, we’ll be here.

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