The Saddest Radio Commercial – Please Don’t Buy Online


I don’t listen to the radio often, but its usually turned on to some classic rock anytime I start up my truck. Anyway, this evening I was headed to the grocery store when I heard the saddest radio commercial of all time.

It was literally asking listeners to stop buying a certain product online. I don’t want to out any companies in distress, but this is a pretty telling sign of the direction of business and advertising.

The basic plea was to keep the money local. I couldn’t help but smirk wryly at that assumption because it obviously doesn’t account for people like myself who are earning money and bringing it into the local economy with globally-based internet sales.

I wonder if that makes me part of their problem or part of their solution!

There’s a hundred cliche ways to say “the past ain’t coming back,” so I’ll skip reciting those and add my piece of advice to these local retailers:

Get your ads online already!

When you spend advertising dollars on traditional broadcasting media outlets like radio and television, you have very little control over the types of demographics you’re broadcasting to. Sure, you can pick the adult contemporary station or the newest pop section of the dial, but you’re still going to end up with an audience that is fairly representational of the community as a whole. Some young people like oldies, some oldies like new rock. How many of them do you think need the product you’re selling?

Maybe this makes sense for some types of advertising toward products that everyone needs and can only be delivered locally: food, television/broadband/phone etc… but this probably doesn’t work nearly as well with even shoes or cars. Months or years later when the rest of your audience is finally ready to buy the product you advertised so long ago, are they going to remember your brand?

Buyers go online – that’s the new reality, not something you can fight off by asking nicely.

If you want to sell those products, you need to get your advertisements placed where they look right before they hit buy, you need to identify those keywords that are specific to your product and suggest an intent to purchase. Some retailers may not appreciate this as it also means their prices are going to have to become more competitive. People may have been willing to pay more because the only local supply was priced higher, but now they know the best price is just a few clicks away.


  1. Hey John,
    I’ve got to agree that there are plenty of businesses that would like to live in the past. And I have to laugh at business that say give us more of your money for the same thing you can get somewhere else. I will buy local even if it’s more expensive IF I get some additional value out of it.
    I don’t know anything about local internet marketing, but I know the place that we bought our last mattress at figured it out and they dominate the SERPS for mattresses in (our town), and they are friendly and have great prices and great customer service.
    ~ Steve, Pinnacle Trade Show Booths
    PS. I’m still wondering what that product you won’t disclose is… any hints? ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. John,

    You hit it right out of the ballpark on this one. What amazes me most is that the account executive at the radio station didn’t try to talk that advertiser out of this one, and be a marketing consultant, rather than an order taker. As Steve states above, give the listener a reason to shop you (value, customer service, etc), rather than beg the listener not to shop online.

  3. Well, it was for cars! I was sort of surprised, its something that I probably wouldn’t think of to buy online. Local SEO is probably going to be booming in the next few years as businesses start to realize that the easiest way to get motivated leads is to be near the top of the searches they’ll eventually make.

    I think the principles of search marketing for local business aren’t too far off from regular SEO – if anything, adding locally relevant keywords would reduce the competition you’re up against.

  4. That’s such an ironic commercial, and clearly a business that doesn’t understand marketing at all. First of all, someone listening to the radio is probably NOT buying stuff online (Online shoppers are probably listening to songs downloaded from online!)

    Secondly, don’t they understand how much MORE business they would have if they expanded beyond local?

    Thirdly, if you had a website and made good use of adwords campaigns and plenty of keyword those customers coming online they would come straight to you! And it would probably cost LESS than whatever you just spent on the radio ad!

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