Every Fayetteville small business has a brand. "Your company's brand," says Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, "is what your customers say about you when you are no longer in the room."
A few years ago, customers of the Crown Complex weren't saying good things. Advertising on Fayetteville radio helped remove the tarnish from the Crown's public's perception.
The Crown Complex first opened in 1967 just minutes from downtown Fayetteville. It expanded in 1987 to include a 60,000 square foot expo space. In 1997 the 10,880 seat Coliseum was added.
In 2013, amid poor fiscal performance and poor public perceptions, Cumberland County, owner of the building, hired Spectra Venue Management to address these issues around. According to James Grafstrom, who has managed the Crown Complex since then, advertising on Fayetteville radio has contributed greatly to fulfilling the county’s expectations.
“In terms of the public’s perception of the Crown Complex,” explains Mr. Grafstrom, “it is not unusual for people in a community to believe other cities have things better. Fayetteville was no exception. People here just didn’t realize that we were putting on 267 events per year right here in Cumberland County. They believed big cities like Charlotte and Raleigh were doing a better job.”
“We might not have Jason Aldean or Luke Bryant here every week, says Mr. Grafstrom, “but we do have an impressive slate of entertainment come through here every year. Superstars like Elton John and Thomas Rhett to family shows like the Moscow Ballet’s Nutcracker and Disney on Ice. We also have professional sports such as Fayetteville Marksmen Hockey and WWE.”
To help improve and maintain the public perception, Mr. Grafstrom continually advertises on Fayetteville radio.
Everybody Is Listening To The Radio
“Although the media landscape has changed, no matter how you look at it,” he says, “radio is still in the forefront. People are in their cars every day whether they going to work or coming home. During that time, they are listening to Fayetteville radio. They might be listening to a rock station; a pop station; a rap station; a talk station; or a county station. But the bottom line is they are listening.”
“They might not have a chance to look at the newspaper that day, or check Facebook,” Mr. Grafstrom continues, “but because they are captive in their cars, we can reach them with our message, even if it just for 15 or 30 seconds. I see this as a real value to keep The Crown Complex top-of-mind in our community.”
A study conducted by Nielsen in Spring of this year confirms Mr. Grafstrom’s observations. The study shows that 90% of everyone in the area tune-in to their favorite Fayetteville radio station each week. This is more people than watch local TV or read a newspaper.
Nielsen also points out that radio listening in Cumberland County is nearly ubiquitous among people of all ages. This includes members of Generation X, Y, and Z; Millennials, and Boomers. Everybody.
To change local residents’ perception from ‘nothing ever happens at the Crown’ to ‘something exciting is always happening at the Crown’, Mr. Grafstrom uses a combination of 30-second and 15-second commercials to brand the venue, not necessarily to sell tickets.
“We are on the radio every week sharing our line-up of all upcoming events regardless of the audience that is hearing the commercial.” He says. “For instance, we will include a rap show in the commercial on a country station. We will include a rock show in our commercial on rap station. We will include new artists in our commercial on an oldies station.
“The purpose of doing it this way is to make sure the public is aware that there are a lot more events at the Crown than they had perceived.”
“One of our commissioners from the county compares our branding approach to a pie,” says Mr. Grafstrom. “If you gave a pie to a small group of people, then only they would know about the pie. However, if you share pieces of the pie with a lot of different groups, then everybody would know about the pie. When everyone knows about the pie, then they would all want a taste. With our approach to advertising all events on all stations regardless of the audience, then we are, in essence, sharing the pie with everyone.”
“In addition to this branding approach,” says Mr. Grafstrom, “we also use promotional advertising to sell tickets for individual shows. Sometimes we handle this locally or sometimes the show’s promoter places the advertising. Unlike our branding ads, though, these commercials run only for a short time on those stations which match the target demographic for the event.”
Advertise Continually To Avoid Backsliding
“There are two reasons that we run on our branding campaign 52 weeks a year on Fayetteville radio,” says Mr. Grafstrom. “The first is now that we have been successful in creating the belief that we always have something going on at the Crown Complex, we can’t afford to backslide.”
“The second reason is because one-third of our local residents are part of the Ft. Bragg military community. These people are always in transit, moving in-and-out. So, there’s a good chance the people we successfully branded to last year or the year before that have moved away. They are then replaced by new people who have no idea the Crown Complex is even here. So, we must start the process over again with them.”
“Just like other Cumberland County small business owners, our ability to market on base is limited,” adds Mr. Grafstrom. “Advertising on Fayetteville radio really helps us to get past the gate with our branding message.”
Mr. Grafstrom’s approach to marketing the Crown Complex has proven effective. “With the help of Fayetteville radio and our other media partners,” he says, “We have been able to achieve our goals and objectives.”
“Radio advertising can help other Fayetteville small business owners achieve their goals as well,” adds Mr. Grafstrom who, in addition to his role at the Crown Complex is also the Chairman of the local Chamber of Commerce. “My advice for those business people is to really understand who their target customers are. Then, do the research to make sure the stations purchased really reach the right listeners.”