Hot Dogs and Rate Cards

For sure twenty years ago the rate for a 30-second radio spot was $5.50. I know because I’m looking at the rate card. I’m not sure how long before that it was in effect, but even if it was twenty years, that’s a pretty long time.

Then, as now, we offered a daily Trading Post or Swap Shop (currently Classifieds) where people could call in for free and advertise items they wanted to buy, sell, or trade. As long as these programs have existed, there have been a few people with businesses who try to cheat the rules for a little free advertising.

As hateful as I’m sure I sound cutting these people off, I’ve always realized there are a lot of little guys out there who couldn’t afford a 30-second rate, and with a little advertising maybe they could so I decided somewhere along the line that we would read an advertisement during the Classifieds program only for one dollar. The idea being, if you couldn’t afford a dollar, you probably ought to be doing something else. For those wanting some TV attention, we would make a graphic, and the rate would be $2.50. We’re not getting rich at this, and you’re not breaking your bank with a little local radio and tv advertising.

The only way we can do this is to make it a no frills deal. You pay upfront, give us what you want to be said and shown, and we’re done. Anything more than that and the price point won’t work.

For example; let’s suppose you have a hot dog stand. As a vendor, your cost per hot dog is 50 cents. You sell them for $1.00 each. You decide to offer a 75 cent hot dog. Same hot dog as the one for a dollar, but the customer has to add their own condiments and fix it themselves. You save time, time is money, and the customer who has less than a dollar in his pocket still eats lunch.

Everybody is happy, right? Wrong.

Inevitably, someone will want to inquire as to whether the buns are gluten free, whether the chili is hormel or bunker hill, and why you should use jesse jones weenies. Then after buying two hot dogs for 75 cents each they decide they don’t like it and want their 75 cents back for the uneaten dog. By the time you factor your time lost, and the loss of the refund, your profit margin is too thin to make the plan work if the percentage of people doing this is too high.

This morning I took a call after the Classifieds program. The man wanted to know where my office was. I told him, and he asked if I had one in Collinsville. Nope, no office in Collinsville. Well, he was coming over to “talk” he says, but he didn’t want to drive over and me not be there. I asked him what he wanted to talk about and he said he “had some stuff” he wanted me “to sell for him.” I told him the deal about the dollar a day or the TV classified, and that didn’t work. He said he liked to talk to a man “eye to eye.” I said that was fine, but I didn’t have time to talk to him about the stuff he wanted to sell. He didn’t understand that, and I’m convinced many others don’t.

I don’t know of any other stations that offer this bottom dollar option. That’s a pretty good sign it’s not workable. Still, I know it’s been a real help to many “little guys” over the years, and I’m proud of being able to help them out.

The fact is if I sat down and talked to everyone that wanted me to sell their stuff for a dollar a day it would be like the sale of a 50 cent hot dog for a quarter. If you went in the hole 25 cents for every hot dog you sold, how long could you keep your hot dog stand open?


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