Frink Inc. Advertising has built its reputation as a trusted advisor and valued service provider over two decades through a client relationship model based on honesty, solid counsel and broad advertising experience.
I built the Frink Inc. business by listening to clients and partners, gaining insights that enabled me to deliver value, and helped grow businesses ranging from restaurants, real estate companies and retailers to healthcare providers and law firms. Making clients’ needs my own, providing honest opinions and addressing issues immediately are key to the Frink Inc. business model. It was a successful strategy employed when I was a Time-Warner (now Spectrum) advertising representative and has propelled Frink Inc. since 2002.
Experience/Background: While at Time-Warner, I was more than a (clients’) rep. I was a resource for information on the general advertising market, including other local television and radio stations. I was willing to give clients honest opinions. When there were problems with Time-Warner I addressed them quickly and admitted my own mistakes when I made them. I wanted strong relationships with clients and I knew that in the long term this served my interests, as well my clients’.
It’s important to understand that mistakes or problems in a business transaction often offer an opportunity to strengthen relationships if handled quickly and honestly. It’s through small or sometimes large crises that you learn the most about people and their businesses.
Client trust, it’s said, begets long-term loyalty. So, when I founded Frink Inc. Advertising, many of my Time-Warner clients became customers.
On Local Advertising
“All politics is local” is a comment attributed to a former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Tip O’Neil that also applies to why a business needs a solid local advertising strategy. O’Neil was making the point that a politician’s success is directly tied to how well he handles his constituents’ needs and concerns.
A well-conceived local advertising and marketing strategy it can afford to execute consistently is vital for any business if it hopes to thrive. Especially if it’s not a franchise that benefits from a strong national advertising strategy and budget.
Two cases in point:
- Prior to my advertising career, I was a partner in the convenience-store business whose initial location was on an opposite corner from a national brand convenience store. It (and later a second store) were located in a bustling off-campus college apartment community in Austin, Texas.
As recent graduates of The University of Texas and former residents of the neighborhood, my business partner and I were confident that the closed store we were re-opening could succeed with a strategy that catered specifically to the area’s preponderance of college students. We employed dozens of student-targeted tactics on a daily basis. Among them; maintaining the largest selection of beer in the neighborhood, advertising in the U.T. newspaper, and on an illuminated reader board on our corner. The reader board also carried hip, and or, local tongue-in-cheek commentary regarding weird items that we didn’t really have. For instance, “Get your Abe Vigoda posters while they last.” Or, “Sorry out of Squid.” Not exactly Letterman, but offbeat and funny enough to win over the student crowd.
We played rock music, loudly, over the store’s sound system that included outside speakers. We employed college students from the neighborhood. We scooped Blue Bell Ice Cream and we believe we were the first convenience store to serve breakfast tacos prepared fresh daily behind the counter.
- Buffet Palace, a locally owned Asian buffet restaurant with multiple locations, has been a client since 1998. In that time, countless Chinese and traditional buffet restaurants have opened and closed in Buffet Palace’s trade area. At least two of the restaurants that have come and gone were national chains. One of the factors making Buffet Palace successful for so long is its positioning as a restaurant with not only Chinese items, but also authentic Korean and Japanese dishes—all prepared fresh daily – with original recipes. We have helped Buffet Palace promote its brand with an Austin television advertising campaign that has been running non-stop since 1998. The 30-second television spots are dominated by food close-ups and tout Buffet Palace’s designation as being voted the best buffet restaurant in Austin year after year by readers of the Austin Chronicle, the go-to source for Austin culture, entertainment and live music news since 1981. The commercials also feature the Buffet Palace jingle we developed. “When you have an occasion for Asian we offer more ways…Buffet Palace the best buffet!”
Key Components of successful television and radio advertising campaigns
- Determine your business advantages and use them to stake out a unique market position. Trumpet that position or brand consistently and continuously with a clear, concise message that “asks customers for the order.”
- Don’t scrimp on cheap scriptwriting or cheap production values. This is the biggest mistake I see local advertisers make. Super Bowl production isn’t required locally, but quality writing and production is worth it. Few things can be worse for a business’ brand than obviously cheaply conceived and produced television and radio commercials.
- Building on the first point, advertise continuously. Repetition really is the key to learning. Advertisers should consider its promotion budget as important as its rent, utilities and payroll. Among my favorite clients was a local retail chain whose patriarch was the quintessential wheeler-dealer, promoter and pitch man. He advertised on television continuously month after month with a very healthy media budget. When he died a few years ago, sadly at relatively young age, his operation passed to his children. His children reduced the advertising budget approximately 50 percent almost immediately. The business suffered and they puzzled at the dwindling success of their advertising compared to when the old man had been setting the budget. The four-store chain is now down to one. I can’t lay all the blame for the business’ declining success on its reduced advertising budget, but I have no doubt it played a significant role.
Frink Inc. Advertising Evolution
The agency’s initial focus mirrored my 11-year stint as a Time-Warner advertising rep, and we mostly provided media buying expertise to clients. However, we quickly learned that prospective clients were much more interested in a singular creative vision for their businesses. Frankly, most local businesses hunger for both counsel and execution that builds their brand. So, after initial success based on media-buying expertise, I expanded the scope of the agency’s operation to include television commercial and radio production by hiring a veteran producer and forming a partnership with a creative writing and design boutique. That expansion also led our agency into the marketing and training video business, which since 2004, has accounted for a substantial percentage of our revenue.
What’s Next for Frink Inc. Advertising?
In 2009 one of my clients was forming a new law firm and asked me to hire and manage an SEO agency for the new firm’s website. At that time the most important metric Google used for ranking websites for search queries (organic results) were the number of backlinks a website had. Of secondary importance were the quality and authority of the content on a site and the quality and authority of the websites that back linked to that website. In short, the number of backlinks your site had was more important than the quality of the backlinks.
For the next three years, I oversaw the work of two SEO agencies whose primary tactic for acquiring backlinks for my client’s website was through link networks. Through these new link networks, the SEO agencies acquired hundreds of backlinks for my client’s website. A vast majority of the websites in these link networks were bogus sites set up only to link to other websites. This tactic seemed like a scam to me as I’m sure it does to you, but at the time it worked. The more of these backlinks a website had the higher it ranked for search engine queries regardless of the fact that the links were from bogus websites.
With Google’s emphasize on localization and the resulting change in effective strategies for local SEO, I have begun developing a local linking-strategy service for clients. It is work that fascinates me and it’s adding fresh professional fulfillment, definitely a blessing in the 35th year of my professional life.
On a personal note, I’ve authored a blog: http://willieearl.com/ about Texas Longhorn Football for several years that has gained a small but loyal and growing following. At least a few people enjoy and look forward to my commentary and storytelling each week during football season.