Whatever Happened to Radio Bumper Stickers?

Once a radio industry – and radio station fan – mainstay, it’s hard for me to find a radio station bumper sticker on the road nowadays.

“People won’t put bumper stickers on their cars anymore,” some say. That’s nonsense. People won’t put just any bumper sticker on their cars. Just as people won’t put just any vanity slogan on their license plate or just any branded frame around it.

People brand themselves and their cars with symbols that give their lives meaning and tell their story to those who watch from afar. This is the story of who I am and what I love.

Why would a radio station, let alone an entire industry, no longer want to be part of that?

It’s not that folks don’t put bumper stickers on cars anymore. It’s that folks don’t have station-branded bumper stickers available to them, not even for the stations they love the most. In general, we stopped making them and handing them out.

Your favorite college didn’t do that.

Your favorite sports team didn’t either.

Nor did Apple, as anyone who has opened an iPhone box knows.

What do these folks know that you don’t know?

Why the fuss about bumper stickers anyway?

Well, consider that PPM tells us the secret to bigger ratings is more Cume. And the secret to more Cume is to promote sampling. And maybe, just maybe, the right symbol with the right message at the right point-of-purchase (say, when your finger is on the radio in the car) is a great path to more sampling, right?

Even today we don’t think twice about hoisting a billboard over drivers’ heads, but billboards are your marketing, not my identity. That’s a big difference. I put your bumper sticker on my car to tell a story about me – you put your billboard over my head to tell a story about you. Which do you think works better? 

So there I was driving down the road when in front of me at a light I saw this:

The driver saw me snapping a photo, and she gave me a wave (there it is in the picture).

“Thanks for the attention and for appreciating who I am and what my story is,” that wave said.

“Thanks for giving me a story to tell the readers of this blog,” said my wave back.

In this age of social media, word-of-mouth is more important than ever – whether that word comes through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Or whether that word comes from a symbol proudly displayed on the back of a car.

Let your fans tell your story by telling their story. (Tweet that)

They do it better than you.

Mark Ramsey is a veteran media strategist, researcher, and trend-maker who has worked with numerous media, publishing, and digital brands over his career. Including Apple, iHeartMedia (Clear Channel), Pandora, CBS, Bonneville, Sirius XM, U-T San Diego, EA Sports, and more.

In 2013, he created the first-ever audio future festival, hivio, which debuted with more video impressions and social media engagement than all other audio industry events of the year combined.

You can contact Mark Ramsey by heading to his website markramseymedia.com

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