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A Loyal Reader Writes:

“Three times a year, our station conducts a ‘Live Radio Auction’ where our clients give us products or services in exchange for advertising, and we sell the stuff on the air to listeners at a reduced rate.

“The problem is some of our clients only advertise this way and some complain about the type of people who take advantage of the bargains.

“This radio station began conducting these just once a year. Then we switched to two per year, and now three. A radio station in our area does one almost every month!

“I think they cheapen the value of our medium and tune out some listeners. What do you think of radio auctions?”

It would be smarter to trade the advertising for a specified total credit at each of the participating merchants and convert that credit into discounted certificates that you sell — at fixed prices, not at auction — on your station’s website.

In addition to the advertising you air (in otherwise unsold slots) for the individual merchants, you run spots promoting the website feature (but not mentioning any sponsors):

“Would you like to save 50% on practically everything? Check out the RadioX.com’s Discount Store. You can’t miss it: Just go to RadioX.com and click on ‘Discount Store!’ ”

So if you’ve traded $1,000 of advertising for $1,000 of merchandise at a particular store, you might sell ten $100 certificates (online) for $50 each.

The purchaser pays $50 and in return gets an unrestricted $100 credit at the store, thereby saving $50. The station keeps the $50.

And when the merchant that doesn’t usually use radio starts seeing immediate traffic (people redeeming the certificates), the merchant often wakes up to the power of local radio advertising.

None of this pollutes your airwaves or reduces the value of your paid advertising, and it’s much less likely to generate complaints from your regular advertisers (who also are welcome to participate in the program).

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