Philly Creative Guide

Creative Firm

Mark Lipsky

Radio's Secret Weapon
by Mark Lipsky, 1 Jul 2008

One of America's few "radio only" advertising agencies is based right here in the Delaware Valley - ironically enough, in Media, Pennsylvania. With national clients like WebEx, Food Network and Sony PlayStation, Radio Direct Response and sister company RDR Promotions continues to build its success around the success of their clients who turn to RDR to market their products and services on radio.

Get to know RDR better at Radio Direct Response or The RDR Blog Zone and hear sample of RDR's radio promotions at RDR Promotions Audio Room.


"Radio's been pronounced dead so many times, I keep a black suit in my office just in case they ever actually hold the funeral," jokes Mark Lipsky, President & CEO of RDR since its inception in 1993.

"The fact is, radio's recent expansion into satellite and online streaming strengthens the medium, making it even more ubiquitous and better able to target consumers who choose to be entertained and informed by radio in all of its forms and delivery systems."

The Bridge from DRTV

Radio Direct Response was created in 1993 to build the bridge for TV Infomercial marketers seeking to generate incremental sales on radio. RDR's first success stories included such popular TV hits as "Mega Memory" and "The Juiceman Juicer."

Radio Direct Response; Radio's Secret Weapon

"Direct response advertising taught me how little I knew about radio advertising," Lipsky confesses. "Without the benefit of daily metrics to measure success, I had been sacrificing results for creativity."

The DR marketer's need to generate leads and sales at a specific return on investment put a quick stop to flashy, award-winning creative. These clients needed to spend a dollar and make back two. Daily reports from RDR's client call centers gave instant feedback to help RDR determine not only which creative approaches generated the best response, but which radio stations and radio networks delivered the best results.

"If the campaign worked, they'd shovel money at us," Lipsky recalled. "If it didn't work, they'd throw the shovel at us." Using the metrics clients provided, RDR's team quickly learned to measure and manage the numbers to turn a failed test into a sustained campaign that generated profits from that day forward. "Everything we need to succeed comes out of the test. From there, it's just a matter of renegotiating rates, maximizing success and constantly measuring results to keep the campaigns profitable."

Dot-Com Days

RDR was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time and earn the radio marketing assignments that launched Priceline.com and FreeCreditReport.com. From there, dozens of dot-com companies chose RDR to replicate that success and business was booming.

"I still remember the day my partner told me he'd registered dozens of URL names, thinking we'd want to use or market them," Lipsky recalls. "We all got caught up in the dot-com frenzy – and for awhile – it was quite a ride."

After the dot-com crash, the agency quickly regrouped to a more balanced mix of clients and solidified the launch of its sister company, RDR Promotions.

Radio Promotions

RDR Promotions creates and executes local and national radio promotions for a variety of national clients. Some hire RDR to boost their TV ratings (The History Channel). Others hire RDR to sell cruise cabins (Travelocity). Some drive web traffic (Classmates.com).

No matter the desired outcome, RDR Promotions will create radio-friendly contests or promotions that are placed on stations in client-selected markets to reach their target demographic at a fraction of the price of a traditional media buy. The promotions air during programming, when listeners are more likely to be engaged by programming content, and hence, more likely to hear the message and take action.

Radio Direct Response; Radio's Secret Weapon

"Our dot-com promotions clients would tell us that their IT would drill down and see definite spikes in URL traffic on the days when our promotions would run. Our TV network clients would isolate TV ratings spikes to the markets where they ran radio promotions. There was a definite cause-and-effect that blew away the notion that radio promotions were nothing more than a branding tool."

Today, the staff at RDR boasts a creative mix of former radio professionals, creative account managers and "friendly piranhas" in the media department. "The nice thing about negotiating a DR radio buy is the fact that it's transparent," says Lipsky. "If the client needs to generate 100 leads, but the buy only generates 80, it'll take some extra effort or lower rates for the buy to be renewed. Having this hard data makes it easier for everyone to succeed."

So even though the RDR offices are brightly decorated in red-blue-and-purple with over 100 classic radios spread throughout the space, this creative agency relies on proven systems to keep its clients happy.

"It's a delicate balance of right-brained creative and left-brained science," explains Lipsky. "There aren't many shops like us in America. I think that's a good thing."

Print Article Brought to you by: Mark Lipsky | President & CEO of Radio Direct Response

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