The greatest expense you’re going to incur in conducting a
successful business is advertising.
You have to advertise. Your business cannot grow and flourish
unless you advertise. Advertising is the “life-blood” of any
profitable business. And regardless of where or how your
advertise, it’s going to cost you in some form or another.
Every successful business is built upon, and continues to thrive,
primarily, on good advertising. The top companies in the world
allocate millions of dollars annually to their advertising
budget. of course, when starting from a garage, basement or
kitchen table,you can’t quite match their advertising
efforts—at least not in the beginning. But there is a way you
can approximate their maneuvers without actually spending their
kind of money. And that’s through “P.I” Advertising.
“P.I.” stands for per inquiry. This kind of advertising most
generally associated with broadcasting, where you pay only for
the responses you get to your advertising message. It’s very
popular–somewhat akin to bartering–and is used by many more
advertisers than most people realize. The advantages of PI
Advertising are all in favor of the advertiser because with this
kind of an advertising arrangement, you can pay only for the
results the advertising produces.
To get in on this “free” advertising, start with a loose leaf
notebook, and about 100 sheets of filler paper. Next, either
visit your public library and start poring through the Broadcast
Yearbook on radio stations in the U.S., or Standard Rate and Data
Services Directory on Spot Radio. Both these publications will
give you just about all the information you could ever want about
An easier way might be to call or visit one of your local radio
stations, and ask to borrow (and take home with you) their
current copy of either of these volumes. To purchase them
outright will cost $50 to $75.
Once you have a copy of either of these publications, select the
state or states you want to work first. It’s generally best to
begin in your own state and work outward from there. If you have
a moneymaking manual, you might want to start first with those
states reporting the most unemployment.
Use some old fashioned common sense. Who are the people most
likely to be interested in your offer, and where are the largest
concentrations of these people? You wouldn’t attempt to sell
windshield de-ice canisters in Florida, or suntan lotion in
Minnesota during the winter months, would you?
At any rate, once you’ve got your beginning “target” area decided
upon, go through the radio listings for the cities and towns in
that area, and jot down in your notebook the names of general
mangers, the station call letters, and addresses. be sure to list
the telephone numbers as well.
On the first try, list only one radio station per city. Pick out
the station people most interested in your product would be
listening to. This can be determined by the programming
description contained within the date block about the station in
the Broadcasting Yearbook or the SRDS Directory.
The first contact should be in the way of introducing yourself,
and inquiring if they would consider a PI Advertising campaign.
You tell the station manger that you have a product you feel will
sell very well in his market, and would like to test it before
going ahead with a paid advertising program. You must quickly
point out that your product sells for, say $5, and that during
this test, you would allow him 50% of that for each response his
station pulls for you. Explain that you handle everything for
him: the writing of the commercials, all accounting and
bookkeeping, plus any refunds or complaints that come in. In
other words all he has to do is schedule your commercials on his
log, and give them his “best shot.” When the responses come in,
he counts them, and forwards them on to you for fulfillment. You
make out a check for payment to him, and everybody is happy.
If you’ve contacted him by phone, and he agrees to look over your
material, tell him thank you and promise to get a complete
“package” in the mail to him immediately. Then do just that.
Write a short cover letter, place it on top of your “ready-to-go”
PI Advertising Package, and get it in the mail to him without
If you’re turned down, and he is not interested in “taking on”
any PI Advertising, just tell him thanks, make a notation in your
notebook by his name, and go to your next call. Contacting these
people by phone is by far the quickest, least expensive and most
productive method of “exploring” for those stations willing to
consider your PI proposal. In some cases though, circumstances
will deem it to be less expensive to make this initial contact by
letter or postcard.
In that case, simply address you card or letter to the person you
are trying to contact. Your letter should be positive in tone,
straight forward and complete. Present all the details in logical
order on one page, perfectly typed on letterhead paper, and sent
in a letterhead envelope. (Rubber-stamped letterheads just won’t
get past a first glance.) Ideally, you should include a
self-addressed and stamped postcard with spaces for positive or
negative check marks in answer to your questions: Will you or
won’t you over my material and consider a mutually profitable
“Per Inquiry” advertising campaign on your station?
Once you have an agreement from your contact at the radio station
that they will look over your materials and give serious
consideration for a PI program, move quickly, getting your cover
letter and package off by First Class mail, perhaps even Special
What this means is at the same time you organize your “radio
station notebook,” you’ll also want to organize your advertising
package. Have it all put together and ready to mail just as soon
as you have a positive response. Don’t allow time for that
interest in your program to cool down.
You’ll need a follow-up letter. Write one to fit all situations;
have 250 copies printed, and then when you’re ready to send out a
package, all you’ll have to do is fill in the business salutation
and sign it. If you spoke of different arrangements or a specific
matter was discussed in your initial contact, however, type a
different letter incorporating comments or answers to the points
discussed. This personal touch won’t take long, and could pay
You’ll also need at least to thirty-second commercials and two
sixty-second commercials. You could write these up, and have 250
copies printed and organized as a part of your PI Advertising
You should also have some sort of advertising contract written
up, detailing everything about your program, and how everything
is to be handled; how and when payment to the radio station is to
be made, plus special paragraphs relative to refunds, complaints,
and liabilities. All this can be very quickly written up and
printed in lots of 250 or more on carbonless multi-part snap-out
Finally, you should include a self-addressed and stamped postcard
the radio station can use to let you know that they are going to
use your PI Advertising program, when they will start running
your commercials on the air, and how often, during which time
periods. Again, you simply type out the wording in the form you
want to use on these “reply postcards, and have copies printed
for your use in these mailings.
To review this program: Your first step is the initial contact
after searching through the SRDS or Broadcasting Yearbook. Actual
contact with the stations is by phone or mail. When turned down,
simply say thanks, and go to the nest station on the list. For
those who want to know more about your proposal, you immediately
get a PI Advertising Package off to them via the fastest way
possible. Don’t let the interest wane.
Your Advertising Package should contain the following:
1. Cover letter
2. Sample brochure, product literature
3. Thirty-second and sixty-second commercials
4. PI Advertising Contract
5. Self-addressed, stamped postcard for station
acceptance of your program.
Before you ask why you need an acknowledgement postcard when you
have already given them a contact, remember that everything about
business changes from day to day—conditions change, people get
busy, and other things come up. the station manager may sign a
contract with your advertising to begin the 1st of March. The
contract is signed on the 1st of January, but when March 1 rolls
around, he may have forgotten, been replaced, or even decided
against running your program. A lot of paper seemingly “covering
all the minute details” can be very impressive to many radio
station managers, and convince them that your company is a good
one to do business with.
Let’s say that right now you’re impatient to get started with
your own PI Advertising campaign. Before you “jump off the deep
end,” remember this: Radio station people are just as
professional and dedicated as anyone else in business—even more
so in some instances–so be sure you have a product or service
that lends itself well to selling via radio inquiry system.
Anything can be sold, and sold easily with any method you decide
upon, providing you present it from the right angle. “hello out
Who wants to buy a mailing list for 10 cents a thousand names?”
wouldn’t even be allowed on the air. However, if you have the
addresses of the top 100 movie stars, and you put together an
idea enabling the people to write to them direct, you might have
a winner, and sell a lot of mailing lists of the stars.
At the bottom line, a lot is riding on the content of your
commercial—the benefits you suggest to the listener, and how
easy it is for him to enjoy those benefits. For instance, if you
have a new book on how to find jobs when there aren’t any jobs:
You want to talk to people who are desperately searching for
employment. You have to appeal to them in words that not only
“perk up” their ears, but cause them to feel that whatever it is
that you’re offering will solve their problems. It’s the product,
and in writing of the advertising message about that product are
going to bring in those responses.
Radio station managers are sales people, and sales people the
world over will be sold on your idea if you put your selling
package together properly. And if the responses come in your
first offer, you have set yourself up for an entire series of
successes. Success has a “ripple effect,” but you have to start
on that first one. We wish you success!