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WMEE's Backyard Makeover campaign wins Top Ad, $500,000 in sales for client

Federated Media's WMEE helps outdoor remodeler launch new division

The missing market: Residential houses that needed outdoor remodeling.

Media: Federated Media

Station: 97.3 WMEE, Fort Wayne

Key Executives: Andrew Burney, Account Executive, and the team at WMEE; Deb Derda-Williams, Director of Sales, Federated Interactive
Client: Custom Outdoor Oasis, a division of Auburn Concrete, Auburn, Indiana
Campaign: $50,000 Backyard MakeOver

June's Top Ad Winner and winner of Impact Engine's premium ad challenge is Custom Outdoor Oasis' s Backyard Makeover, an integrated campaign created by Andrew Burney, Account Executive at WMEE radio, part of Federated Media. This campaign has everything: Great radio spots, fantastic use of integrated marketing, and outstanding measurable ROI for the customer. Here's the full report on how this campaign was put together, including timing, unique use of platforms, "over-the-top" distribution, and creative. 

Customer challenge: Auburn Concrete, a second generation company, already had a thriving four to five million dollar business selling specialty concrete, pavers, outdoor fireplaces and other hardscaping to commercial clients.

In 2013, the owners decided to expand into residential construction of backyard living spaces. They targeted the under-served high end of the market, where people have assets worthy of investing $30,000 to $100,000 in curb appeal and outdoor living areas. They hoped to reach, among other communities, high end lake homes in the area. But with a one page website for the commercial business, and almost no residential business, they needed help with the new division. They began with several in depth conversations with their account executive, Andrew Burney, at Federated Media. 

On the plus side, the products were in place.  

"He had great talent in creating new finishes for concrete and can do amazing yard makeovers," Burney said.

On the minus side, the division had few sales.

 "But nobody thought of him as a residential contractor. All this business was going to the big box stores like Home Depot and landscaping companies." 

Strategy:  Burney and Auburn Concrete agreed on an annual campaign of  $60,000. The first two to three months were spent creating a new high end residential brand and website for the company's new residential division. Once it was done, WMEE would pull out all the stops to promote the residential division with a major contest.

They started in November, 2013, creating the new brand, Custom Outdoor Oasis, and a responsive web site, and powering SEM so the site would be found in key search terms right away:

Then in March, 2014, as the winter weather began to end, they launched a Backyard Makeover contest, with a prize of $50,000 in new hardscaping.

On-air promotions asked listeners if they need an outdoor grilling area or want to enhance curb appeal, then, let them know about the contest and send them directly to the WMEE's site, where the contest was promoted with wall-paper advertising. Typically, wall-paper ads were used for events and only ran for a couple of days. However, due to the size of the prize, the station managers got excited about the contest and the extra traffic, and let the ad stay on the site for the  full month of the campaign.

"It was easier to direct listeners in their car to a site that they already know, than to the advertiser's website," Burney says. "If you say 'Custom Outdoor Oasis' on-air they may forget by the time they get home."

All the ads clicked through to a form created by PressLaff, the station's email partner, where users entered by uploading their backyard photos. The form also captured contact information and direct leads, that is, people who checked off a box asking if they wanted an in-home design consultation. Here's a couple of screen shots of the landing page: 


Of Auburn's $60,000 annual buy, about $11,000 went to the website and to position it on Google with SEM. About $4,000 in radio advertising runs monthly. But in March, during the big giveaway, the station bumped up the buy. The contest ran five spots a day and was promoted via all of the radio station's assets, including streaming, online display ads, text-blasts, two blasts to the station's email database, Twitter, and Facebook, plus the home page premium ads. 

WMEE, which plays hot adult contemporary music, has an ideal audience for home remodelers: 61% female, aged 22-54. The  target audience for Custom Outdoor Oasis is 36 to 39 year old females.  

While WMEE has 110,000 listeners a week, streaming to other stations brought the audience up to a million a week and 3.7 million user sessions monthly, and reached additional demographic groups.

"The BEAR (a rock station) is a different audience. But they want patios, too."

Because the station partnered, DJ's also promoted the contest hourly. 

Here are some example of the creative: 

Banner ad

Home page promo rotator 

Text ads to the station's promotional club





In the first week of the month-long campaign 217 people had entered and the client closed $250,000 from five phone calls.

By the end of the month, there were 2,256 submissions, of whom 1,229 asked to be directly contacted by the client for more information.

By May, two months after the contest ended, sales were up to $500,000 with calls still coming in. The company hired three designers to keep up with the leads. Several hundred thousand more in sales are still in the works. If the calls and leads continue, Burney expects sales may top $1,000,000 this year.

"The integrated marketing solution is so powerful - when you combine digital and interactive with terrestrial broadcasting," Burney said.

"Timing also had a lot to do with it ... it needed to be March when people are thinking, ' I want to get outside. I want a patio. I'm tired of winter hell."

Judges like this campaign because it has, literally, everything: A great concept, great timing, full integration and outstanding results. Federated has been building it's digital chops for years (see case study here) by accumulating social audiences and selling agency services. A key to getting this campaign off the ground was building the infrastructure first - a well-designed website with SEM for the best key words. Judges also like the creative use of WMEE.com's home page take-over, rather than the client's site, as a neat solution to the tricky problem of "drag time" between when an audience is listening in the car, and when they are able to take an action. Finally, the contest not only captured audience data but real leads, asking for contacts. The potential of $1 million in new trackable first year business is the highest provable result from a campaign that we've seen. 

Congratulations to Andrew Burney and Federated Radio for the big win - this month they won both the Top Ad and the Premium ad challenge - and many thanks to Impact Engine for partnering to create the Top Ads Premium Ad Challenge and posting $1,000 in awards for June. 

A plug for our sponsor: Impact Engine supplies a leading platform for creating cutting edge premium ads in minutes. A cool feature is a white-label demo site with a personalizing page for each sales rep on a private URL, (see example here). We wrote about this in  Best Practices for Media Kits (sroll down to #10 personalization (scroll down to #10, personalization).  You can fnd user-reviews and contact information for Impact Engine on MediaexecsTech.com here.


Andrew Burney, Marketing Consultant/Integrated Marketing Solutions, WMEE


Deb Williams, Director of Interactive Sales, Federated Interactive Media


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