Everyone lives somewhere, and if you are a small-town guy who lives in one, you have likely picked up a lot of local lore that others will find interesting and pay money to hear about.
As a former news writer, author, radio broadcaster and stand-up humorist facing a declining book market; I decided to produce a history of Sandersville, Georgia, in the form of a radio show, put it on a CD and sell that product.
My radio show, “Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures,” provided a non-traditional format. This show is usually divided into several sections. I open with a bit of “found sound” which relates to the topic. Then comes a few minute introduction and the first ad. In this case I used a gag ad from “The Association of Town Criers.” Then I did a 4 AM walk around the town square describing the changes that I had seen and events that had taken place on the square, including Gen. W.T. Sherman’s burning of the town during the Winter of 1864.
Following a gag ad on about the half-hour, I tell a little about my family’s history which included a former Mayor, a doctor, educators, plantation owners and native Americans. I am frank about issues like slavery, wars, depressions, segregation, intergration, agricultural decline, migration and population changes. Through these changes, the resilient population has adapted. Seen through the longer view of history, it is apparent that small-town life is not as unchanging as it appeared when we were kids. An interesting aside is how I came to meet my great, great, great-grandfather face-to-face, although he was more than 100-years dead at the time.
I usually have a cooking section on my show, and on this one, “The Secrets of Cooking Southern Fried Chicken,” was a natural element to incorporate, as this skill is an essential part of almost every Sunday dinner.
The thrust of this CD is that although not everything has been harmonious throughout the town’s history, “It was a good place to live then. It is a good place to live now. Sandersville, Georgia, my home town,” I conclude.
This CD’s production took most of a week to think about, compose, record and edit. I first used it as an episode on my radio show, “Hovey’s Outdoor Adventures.” After approaching a number of town businesses, a local bank agreed to purchase 250 copies as promotional items, which financed Disc Makers run of the first 500, production of art for the disc printing, shipping in paper sleeves and purchase of 250 plastic disc holders. This approach avoided the expensive design and production of printed inserts and CD covers, as only the face of the CD was printed.
Although costs will change, this approach allowed me to price the CDs to retail at $5.00 for the paper sleeved version and $7.00 for those in a plastic case. My market area is small (10,000) with only two privately owned pharmacies and one gift store as potential outlets. These agreed to take from 8-12 copies as an initial order. Additional copies were also sold for resale to the local historical society. This is small area, small volume and small-dollar marketing where personal interchanges with people who you have known all of your life are significant.
I will also participate in local craft shows and markets a few times a year, to gather additional sales. Although CD sales are in decline in the music industry, the CD still remains viable for retailing through gift-selling outlets. They are also convenient for listening on long-duration car trips. While it is possible to put the same information on-line on a pay-to-download basis (and Disc Maker will also sell you download cards), buyers in my rather conservative market prefer the CDs that can be wrapped and given as traditional gifts compared to the same information on less conspicuous thumb drives.
Promotion was done by a short article in the county newspaper, speaking at local clubs, and on-line. Once the base market is established, additional CDs about different aspects of the community can also be produced on an annual basis for the September-December gift-buying season. A little research can extend this approach and your product line to nearby cities.
To purchase a copy of the CD and for more information about my books, blogs, videos and radio show go to my website www.hoveysmith.com.