We’ve been hearing a lot about “telling radio’s story” this year. About reaching beyond the metrics and analytics to decipher and define just who those numbers and clicks represent. As a researcher at Eastman Radio once told me, “You have to make the numbers dance. Give them life. You don’t see people by citing ’20 percent.’ People start to come to life when they are ‘one out of five,’ because one out of five becomes stick figures. It’s that basic.”
Basic to telling the radio story is sharing those stories. Throughout 2018, Radio Ink will be spreading the news in a series called “Advertiser Success Stories,” every Monday on RadioInk.com and in every issue of Radio Ink magazine. These success stories will be from local businesses all around the country that are seeing results by using radio, including some using radio exclusively.
If you are reading this now, we hope you will become one of the storytellers. First, however, you have to be able to create the stories or help those already in progress come fully to life.
That typically begins by sketching a storyboard. A good storyboard provides the foundation for the story, one that defines and directs its focus, organizes the process, and decides what should be included in it. Filling that blank board, however, takes a constant flow of materials in the pipeline that will eventually turn into stories.
Over the years, I have found that the best stories develop when time and energy are managed by some very basic concepts, ones that play to your strengths, the strength of the relationships you build as a rep, and the strengths of your clients.
Spending time or spinning wheels?
Make sure you’re spending time with the right people. Joe may always have the coffee on and time to shoot the breeze, but is it quality time you’re spending, or is it a comfort zone? Remember, time is money — for both of you — so parcel out your time carefully.
Easy to say no to.
Some clients believe that the “path of least resistance” is knowing to whom it’s easiest to say no. If that’s you, you may lose out, not because someone else has a better product or price, but simply because the client dreads saying no to someone else. You can be likeable but argue your position respectfully. Just make sure you’re getting ample consideration — even as you maintain a friendly demeanor.
This isn’t baseball — three strikes doesn’t mean you’re out.
Most sales take at least five calls to close — and most reps give up after three. Three calls are, at most, only the middle, not the end, of the typical cycle.
Encourage clients to “think out of the box” too.
Maybe the client hasn’t used radio or your station. Perhaps they’ve been using other media for years. Possibly even worse, maybe they continue to advertise the same thing or use the same copy, month in and month out. Bottom line, don’t be afraid to offer new or different ideas. Two things may happen: first, the client recognizes you are really interested in his business, and second, you open up a mutually beneficial dialogue.
Get “one foot” in the door — literally.
Be creative in approaching hard-to-reach clients. It’s an idea as old as time, but it’s still clever. Buy an inexpensive pair of sneakers. Send one to that unresponsive client with a note that says something like, “Now that I’ve got one shoe in, when may I place both feet through your door?” Making friends with the office staff or receptionist can also help in a big way. During Administrative Professionals Week, buy a bunch of flowers and give one to the gatekeeper at various clients that week. It’s an inexpensive but terribly thoughtful gesture — and it works!
Two to tango.
When reviewing event calendars (community and station), look for opportunities for clients to work together. This can help extend client budgets, form future marketing partnerships, and strengthen your own credibility as a marketing resource to the clients involved.
If it’s fit to print…
It may also be time to shrink, save, and make a “$ound” investment in radio. Always be on the lookout for print clients who might be able to afford radio to enhance their advertising effectiveness simply by cutting down on print ad size.
Speaking of radio…
And while we’re at it, don’t forget to continue to sell radio’s benefits. Don’t take for granted that clients or potential clients understand the medium, much less believe in its power. Some key benefits (and there are many more) include its ability to cut through clutter, affordable frequency (and frequency sells), and a product pitch closest to the point of sale (i.e., in the car).
Always have an option.
Start with a “high-end” package — explain the advantages of its placement as part of the pricing justification — and then, if necessary, offer alternatives. Alternatives must never be strictly price-driven, however. If you modify the price, you must also modify the schedule. Otherwise, you undermine the value of the station and your own credibility. That doesn’t mean there’s no room for negotiation, but there is a difference between an initial offer and an eventual negotiation.
People love to buy.
They don’t, however, like to be sold. Make sure you’re creating buying opportunities, not high-pressuring for sales. Put some fun in the buying process — but don’t forget to ask for the order!
It’s true: Clients will tell you what they need in order to become buyers. But you have to listen — and with both ears. Be earnest, ask questions, demonstrate sincerity — but in the end, truly listen to the answers.
Show them that you care.
Even in today’s more casual atmosphere, there’s nothing like being well dressed and neatly groomed if you want to make a good impression — one that conveys respect, competence, and trust.
Tell clients about the radio station, but never pitch it as an entity. Instead, present ideas to them — a special schedule to promote their sale, or a sponsorship for a particular program on the station. They may say no to some of your ideas, but you can always return with another one. What you don’t want is to give them the chance to say no to your station.
If everyone representing radio and its platforms, at all levels, decides to stretch their efforts and raise the bar by seeking out the stories and positioning the possibilities with creativity that brings the metrics to life, we can out-market the competition with a better story, and give radio one more advantage.
Deborah Parenti is Publisher of Radio Ink. She can be reached at [email protected]