(By Paul Weyland) At this point, most broadcast stations I know are selling at least some semblance of a digital platform along with their conventional radio or television products. And while some stations have a surprising range of digital components to sell, others are just starting out, with just a product or two.
Regardless, as far as I can tell, the Internet is not going away anytime soon. So instead of complaining about your digital quota (“Why are you making us sell this stuff? I feel like it takes up too much of my time. I feel as if I’m just swapping broadcast dollars for digital dimes”), learn to sell it smarter. That starts with keeping things simple. Regardless of how much or little you have in the way of digital sophistication, keep in mind that for many local direct clients, digital advertising is still a very new resource.
During a couple of sessions at the NAB/RAB Radio Show in Austin, it became clear that in many cases, we’re making it harder, not easier, to sell digital components to local direct decisionmakers. Rather than cause added stress to our local clients (and potential clients), let’s make it easier for them to successfully use digital media. Here are some of my thoughts. If you have some ideas of your own, please feel free to contact me and let me know.
Keep it simple. I’ve found that it pays to remind clients that (in nearly every case) more people come to our websites than come to their site. Therefore, it makes sense for them to tether their site to our listeners/viewers. We have various ways to make that happen, and of course there is a charge to do that.
Speaking of keeping it simple, many clients have remarked that it makes some decisionmakers uncomfortable when their regular account executive suddenly hands them over to a new digital guy. If you have a digital expert on your staff, accompany that person to all meetings with your clients — at least at first, until a trusting relationship between the three of you has begun to fuse together.
Continue keeping it simple. Don’t assume the client is an expert in tech-speak. Patiently explain acronyms and terms as you absolutely must. Hit on the features the client agrees will help his cash register ring. Show him what’s cool. As the great novelist Elmore Leonard once said, “When you write, try to leave out the parts that people skip over.” Leave out the boring parts. Like they say about legislation, nobody wants to know how the sausage is made.
Don’t ever stop keeping it simple and totally client-friendly. Before you approach the client, you will have already looked at his website. Often, you’ll discover that his site is static, out of date, hasn’t been touched in years. Usually there’s a simple reason for this, and it could be a huge entry point for you in your selling strategy for this client. Here’s a story to make the point:
One day my seatmate on an airplane told me his first sales job was selling encyclopedias door-to-door. “Wow,” I said. “I’ll bet that was tough.” He said it was, especially when a man answered the door. He said usually when that happened, he would quickly be told to leave. “But if a woman of child-bearing age opened the door and when I brought up the subject of education, hung her head in shame? At that point, I knew I could sell her the books.”
Ha! Yes, I’ve found it’s same with static client websites. Almost always, when I bring up the subject of their site, the client will shamefacedly admit that it could be better. And the reason it’s not? Often, it’s because it was originally built by someone else (ex-brother-in-law?) that the client is no longer in contact with. The website is the way it is simply because the client does not know how to access it to make changes.
To them, it’s as mystical as voodoo. So to hear you say, “Oh, we could fix that easily, maybe even within a day or two,” usually results in a startled, then pleasantly surprised look on the client’s face. In fact, in a back-door way, the website work sometimes turns a no-broadcast decisionmaker into an eventual traditional radio/television user as well.
Did I mention keep it simple? Especially when the client is not Internet-savvy. What if the client says they put all their ad money into Google Search? A small-market client of mine had the perfect retort. “Mr. Client, do you want to be searched for or sought after? We have ideas that will cause our audience to seek you out specifically, instead of having to search and find you by accident in a sea of your competitors.”
When the client protests that she doesn’t pay attention to Internet advertising and nobody she hangs around with does either, to me it’s similar to, “Well, I don’t listen to/like your station.” Or, “That stuff you show on your TV station isn’t for me.” I remind them, “No, you might not like Internet advertising or even use it yourself, but that doesn’t mean that thousands of others don’t use it every day. Have you ever been fishing? Well, if you wanted to catch fish, would you put food on the hook you like to eat, or food the fish like? Hey, we know what the fish are biting. Let’s go fishing. We’ll be your guide.”
Paul Weyland helps broadcast companies sell more long-term local direct business. To contact Paul for advice, books and articles, bookings or just to say hello, visit www.paulweyland.com or call Paul at 512.236.1222.