(By Bob Quick) Ed Knight is General Manager at our Wartburg, TN affiliate WECO-FM just outside of Knoxville. He’s a great salesman, respected broadcaster, and a great guy to share an adult beverage with. When he called us this week, over the moon about upselling one of his premiere NASCAR sponsors I knew it would be a good story.
Little did I know how good.
You see, Ed’s station has aired our network programming since the beginning, almost 50 years now (MRN will broadcast its 50th Daytona 500 next year.) And he’s been working at the station almost that entire time. We know him well. So much so, that he dubbed my boss Cheryl Knight (no relation) “Cuz” years ago because of their shared last name.
It’s that same type of friendly and trusted relationship that Ed has built with his local advertisers which led him to this opportunity with one of his biggest clients.
His relationship with the client began when Ed sold Tri County Equipment (a John Deere dealer) a NASCAR package many years ago now. When his client added a second business, Tri County (equipment) Rentals, the relationship grew and so did the advertising budget for NASCAR. Then a short time ago, when his client bought seven NAPA stores, Ed had an idea to use the NASCAR connections he’s built to get Chase Elliott, driver of the number-9 Hendrick Motorsports NAPA Chevrolet, to be the voice of his client’s radio commercials.
Tri County NAPA had instant star power in their radio advertising for their stores in Rockwood, Crossville, Monterey, Livingston, Jamestown, and Huntsville, TN.
During one of his recent meetings with his client, Ed was told that the NAPA stores were switching to a new supplier, Federated Auto Parts. Because of the seven-store footprint, Tri County Federated Auto & Truck Parts would launch on September 1 not only as retail outlets but also as a regional supplier for other Federated parts stores and auto repair businesses in eastern Tennessee.
Like any great salesperson, Ed never stops collecting information for his Customer Needs Analysis. Instead of fearing a possible loss of business due to the loss of using Chase Elliott for his commercials, he put his thinking cap on to connect the dots between Federated Auto Parts, his client, the radio station, and NASCAR.
A quick look at the NASCAR schedule showed Ed that three weeks after the rebrand, the Federated Auto Parts 400 would be held at Richmond Raceway in Virginia — track he has worked with for years. Ed is “all in” with NASCAR. Over the years he has built relationships with tracks for promotional opportunities and even broadcasts live from select tracks annually…all are sponsored, pay for his travel expenses plus a nice profit, of course. In doing so, he has also created relationships within NASCAR, some race teams, and the NASCAR media.
Ed contacted Richmond knowing full well that the new owner of seven Federated Auto Parts-branded auto parts stores would be important to their race entitlement sponsor too. Richmond Raceway then helped connect the dots with the folks in corporate at Federated Auto Parts who wanted to host their new client in their hospitality suite at the track for the race.
But Ed was thinking bigger. Since the track is over seven hours from Wartburg, what if the radio station hosted an overnight bus trip to Richmond for 50 Federated clients downstream? In other words, Tri County Federated Auto & Truck Parts would offer their business-to-business customers an overnight trip to a NASCAR race in Richmond with hotel accommodations and suite hospitality. Win-Win-Win-Win.
Tri County would schmooze their new clients and build good will. Win.
Federated would wine and dine their new seven store owner and his Federated Parts customers. Win.
Richmond Raceway would sell 50 tickets and get added promotion on the radio for their event. Win.
And Ed would provide a service only he could, while cementing his position as a vital partner with his client. Win.
Ed did all the legwork. He connected the dots. He even, thanks to a connection through the track, hooked up with Visit Richmond regional tourism to bid out 50 hotel rooms on race weekend for a great price.
The owner of Tri County said to Ed, “I could have never done this with what little time I have getting my stores ready for re-launch,” as he took out his credit card to pay for the hotel rooms and tickets.
“What’s all this effort going to cost me, Ed?”
“I’m glad you asked,” said Ed.
Ed probably would have done this for his long-term client regardless of the upsell. He considers it customer service, but knowing his client as well as he does he knew the effort was worth something to him, so he was ready for the question.
Tri County is now the title sponsor of all Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races with promos, heavy spot rotations, half of the :10 second bumper rejoins in each race, and a “mini spot” at the top of each hour that includes the WECO Legal ID. Plus they are the exclusive sponsor of the MRN white label “one on one” and driver preview audio content we email weekly.
All that for a significant increase over and above what they were already doing each month, pitched mid-season, and for 18 months, through December 2019.
Ed wouldn’t have gotten to where he is without thinking big and asking for the order.
And without his station providing results for his local clients.
Because of our fans.
NASCAR fans are the most sponsor friendly and loyal of all sports. Overt sponsorship is so accepted by the fans, there are almost infinite connections to local revenue from team, track, and official NASCAR sponsors.
You just have to connect the dots.
Bob Quick is Manager, Radio Partnerships-Sales for Motor Racing Network – “The Voice of NASCAR.” He prospects and services affiliates in his territory of 29 states and helps the entire network sell MRN programming to their local clients. Now in its 49th year of broadcasting, MRN is the largest independent sports radio network in America and is the primary source for NASCAR stock car racing and related radio programming. MRN programs and play by play can be heard on more than 650 radio stations nationwide. Contact Bob at 704-262-6713 or at [email protected].