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Thread: How do you sell radio ads if the station is so bad?

  1. #1

    How do you sell radio ads if the station is so bad?

    There's a group of AM stations in SW Florida that are technically challenged. They are off the air constantly or distorted, hard to hear poorly run etc. but they still sell a good number of commercials. I don't know how radio sales works but it would seem that people wouldn't buy from this mess yet they do. Why is that?

  2. #2

    Re: How do you sell radio ads if the station is so bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by theice
    There's a group of AM stations in SW Florida that are technically challenged. They are off the air constantly or distorted, hard to hear poorly run etc. but they still sell a good number of commercials. I don't know how radio sales works but it would seem that people wouldn't buy from this mess yet they do. Why is that?
    Do you know if they are all co-owned? If so does the cluster own FM stations also?

    What happens in a lot of situations like this is that you sell the FM stations, the AM is just
    an extra for the advertiser.

    In other words if they sell a commercial to a business on their FM signals, they often use the
    AM station as an added benefit to buy. They can usually squeeze an extra buck in on the sale, by
    offering to run it on AM as well. So the advertiser may not care about the AM, their in it for the
    FM, and anything that comes from the AM'S is a bonus.

    If no FM is involved, it is most likely that their just selling the AM as a group.

    Are most of the ads you are hearing national advertisers like Geico and Walmart, or for local
    stores or services? If they are national commercials they might be selling these commercials
    for multiple markets, and don't know or care much about the stations your listening too.

    It is about the same theory as I mentioned with the FM signals. They may own stations in Tampa
    and thats what the advertisers is concerned with, and your market may be an afterthought.

    Since you said these are challenged signals, one of these two scenarios is probably the most
    likely.

  3. #3

    Re: How do you sell radio ads if the station is so bad?

    Your question, "How do you sell radio ads if the station is so bad?"
    My answer, "If you value your customers/clients, you don't."

    Find a product you truly believe will work and you will prosper.

  4. #4

    Re: How do you sell radio ads if the station is so bad?

    Clients become clients because they like you. If you do everything the client expects, are sincere and truly care about the client, they will buy. We're talking direct buys here where you are face to face with your client. Ratings don't matter and neither does the cost per commercial. What matters is they like you and are convinced you are on their side.

    I had a client that hated Rock-based Top 40 and wasn't a fan of country. Most of this store's customers likely weren't fans of either format as well. In time I got all the radio dollars, plannned the newspaper advertising and cable TV advertising and allocating the dollars in the budget. This happened because I was liked and trusted. I proved myself to be sincere and responsive. And it wasn't because I was a great salesman. This happened because I stopped in every week and when I thought of an idea on advertising, even if it was not radio related, I shared it with my potential client.

    Sure the stations might sound bad or be off the air at times but I've seen the worst signals pull listeners when content gave them a reason. Anyway, listeners are not always tuned in. We tend to freak out when our station is down, but I doubt listeners do. I suspect they punch the next button and check back to see if you're back on the air.

  5. #5

    Re: How do you sell radio ads if the station is so bad?

    I can agree with you up to a point.
    Relationships matter but if your product is not producing results you're history.

  6. #6

    Re: How do you sell radio ads if the station is so bad?

    I can agree with the last statement. Let me add some observations.

    Most businesses have no clue where their results come from. I recall a boat rental store opened on the lake outside town. The guy advertised on the stations I sold and in a fishing magazine. He asked customers how they heard of him. About 1/3rd mentioned seeing the ad in the fishing magazine. The rest said they saw his ad in the local newspaper, found him in the Yellow Pages and one said radio. The fact was he was too new to be in the phone book and never advertised in the paper.

    Evolution of your client list is a constant. Even on a good station it is 20% per year. On a bad station it is much higher. You do have to work lots harder in selling a lousy station because of the higher turnover.

    My reasoning is a small business should not want the #1 station. Sounds crazy, huh? Consider this: most small businesses have a pretty small staff. Their growth must be in relation to the amount of growth they can handle while leaving the customer with a good experience. When there's not enough staff to handle the customer base, the business is doomed because many customers will get lousy service because the staff is overwhelmed. So matching a station to how much business you can take on is important. Thus, sometimes a less than stellar station can be a better choice for a small business.

    Rates matter as well. As a seller of one such station in the past, I mentioned to a car dealer that my rates were low enough that selling one or two cars would make the advertising worth it. I told him my audience was small but they all had cars and trucks. I put it this way: if you had the opportunity to talk to all the parents of children at one of the hundreds of schools in our city, would they consider this of value? Would they sell a car or two by reaching this small portion of the total market? They agreed it was valuable and likely. I compared my station to this scenario. It doesn't work for everyone as some businesses need an ocean to find the puddle of customers, so it helps to target businesses with the best opportunity to see a benefit when you are in this situation. Stick with business types everyone is a consumer of (restaurants, grocery stores, car dealers, etc.). The specialized businesses need to reach greater numbers to find a few customers but a business that benefits from every shopper needs only a few listeners to see a positive result.

    For insurance, be more than the commercial to your client. Bring ideas and useful data to them. Show you are interested in their success and your value to the client will far exceed the investment they made buying commercials on the lousy station you are stuck selling.

    Localizing really helps too. In the programming side, we added a weekly chamber report for a different community within out metro each weekday. The community must be recognized as a separate entity, yet part of the metro. In Dallas/Ft. Worth it might be McKinney or Keller. In Houston it might be Katy or Tomball. In Austin, perhaps Georgetown or Buda. In Kansas City it might be Shawnee Mission or Raytown. In St. Louis it might be Alton. See where I'm going here? A place with a separate identity means local businesses will want to buy on your satation even if you're lousy because you pay attention to their community.

    As a salesperson, be a customer of your client. Change your shopping habits. Buy from the people that provide your paycheck even if the business is out of the way or a little more expensive. They will notice and besides, it is the right thing to do. Loyalty to your client does count.

    Have I sold at a lousy station? Yes! We had such lousy equipment and so many stations to compete with it was very frustrating. Every day was a new adventure. Would our directional pattern hold? Would the transmitter stay on all day? It was two steps forward and a step back almost every day. You learned to be creative while remaining ethical. I had to put my head on the pillow at night and live with myself. I did then and do now take each sale as a reflection on me as a person. You need to learn how to bring something to the table of value to the customer at a price that lets them get a good deal even with a lousy station. We did make it, finally, and those days are just a memory.

  7. #7
    tcsnrayp
    Guest

    Re: How do you sell radio ads if the station is so bad?

    if they are so bad, maybe your creative and well produced spots will make them sound better. ;-)

  8. #8

    Re: How do you sell radio ads if the station is so bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by theice
    There's a group of AM stations in SW Florida that are technically challenged.
    There is a talk show program originating in SE Florida that is host challenged. How do you sell ads that might air during the Rush Limbaugh program?

    How do you manage advertisers who are getting blowback?

    Can you offer remnant ads in this sort of situation which exclude one show, without requiring a premium? I've heard so many stations are dealing with this now, that new policies are being developed.

  9. #9

    Re: How do you sell radio ads if the station is so bad?

    IMHO, BTurner's post is right. I spent over 40 years in broadcasting...the last 30 in advertising sales selling mostly local-direct businesses. A heavy part of my income came from a rapidly-declining AM station (one that pulled a 20%+ share in the 70's).

    To add a few items: for AMs or secondary-rated FMs, the support of ownership is critical. What do I mean? Lesser-audience stations need to be as high-profile in the business community as possible. Be active and spend company money to belong to your local chamber of commerce, be involved with local charities, and for heaven's sake: ADVERTISE your stations in other mass-media. Simply running promos on your stations is not advertising. Do a trade with every local newspaper and local cable system who'll work with you. Be as promotionally visable as possilble.

    Stations need to be promotionally active in papers, cable, billboards, triad-type promotions (like local restaurant placemats and other events)...that keeps station's image alive in the minds of the very people your station wants to reach and sell: local-direct business owners. Much of this committment and direction has to come from the ownership...it can't just fall on the employees.

    If your ownership isn't committed to do what you're asking your advertisers to do (ADVERTISE!), the job of a local sales staff is a lot more difficult. Believe me, I know.

  10. #10

    Re: How do you sell radio ads if the station is so bad?

    While I agree client loyalty and value propositions are all legitimate means of selling a business owner on advertising with your station, I find it impossible to come off as anything other than a charicature of the stereotypical snake oil salesman when the station truly is unlistenable due to technical errors. You shouldn't sell something that doesn't work, even if it might give the business owner some return on their investment. To do otherwise is complete deception, and they wise up to it after a while.

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