Meet One Of Radio’s Best National Sales Managers

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At the Radio Show in Orlando next week, Matt Cowper’s name will be announced following the Advertiser Breakfast, Thursday morning. Matt is a Radio Ink Radio Wayne finalist in the Stu Olds National Sales Manager category. The Beasley Media Vice President is based in Philadelphia and oversees Tampa, Las Vegas, Fort Myers, north Jersey, Boston, Fayetteville, Charlotte, Augusta, Detroit, and Boca.

Cowper reports to Bob McCurdy who says of Matt: “He gets his hands dirty, understands the meaning of team, conducts terrific sales meetings, is creative, provides solutions, and knows his market inside and out. Having worked with Stu Olds for 30 years, I know he would agree that Matt is an extraordinary NSM.” If you want to learn a thing or two…or 10…here’s our extended interview with one of radio’s top NSM’s.

Radio Ink: Why did you choose radio as a career?
Matt Cowper: During my four years in college, my communications professor, Dr. Miller, told me to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible. I took it upon myself to start looking at internships in downtown Philadelphia. I started my first internship sophomore year at an ad agency in the city called Allied Advertising that handled the buying, planning, and creative for the major motion picture movie business. I met so many wonderful people in the TV, radio, print, and outdoor world. Those connections led me to my next internship, junior year, at a radio station called WWDB, which was a Talk station.   I interned there for one year as an assistant producer, sales intern, and promotions intern. My contacts and connections there led me to another internship, my senior year, at WB 17, the local WB TV affiliate. I interned there for six months as a sales assistant shadowing the sales management team as well as the sales team. While interning at the WB, I remained at WWDB working as a producer for various on-air shows. After a fun three years of experiencing all facets of the media world, I fell in LOVE with my time at WWDB and knew I wanted to get into radio. Oddly enough, I ended up getting a job at an advertising agency out of college called McAdams, Richmond & Ong. I worked there for eight months when a sales manager from a local Philly radio station that I got to know came up to me and said, ‘Would you ever be interested in getting into radio sales? You would be really good at it! I can just tell by your attitude, energy, and passion.’ Long story short, I interviewed with him and got the job. Best decision I’ve ever made and here I am today. Still loving the radio business.

Radio Ink: What led you into management?
Matt Cowper: It’s one thing to be an account executive in radio managing your clients and business portfolio. You’re almost like an independent contractor. It’s a whole other game and experience to manage a team. You are a leader. Your salespeople need to trust and depend on you as a mentor, a motivator, an educator, a winner, and most importantly and strategic thinker. A person that has your best interest at heart and knows how to push the right buttons, and when to push them to make you the very best you can be. That’s what led me into management. Being a leader and a person that can take their passion, motivation, wisdom, knowledge, and their faults at times to build a winning team.

Radio Ink: What attracted you to sales, and how did you become a national sales manager?
Matt Cowper: I love winning and I love watching my ideas come to life to help clients grow their business. We have a saying here at Beasley Philadelphia that we’re in the business of “making millionaires.” That’s what we do. We help our clients grow their business and turn them into millionaires. Over the past 19 years, I’ve created so many cool, custom, and effective promotional programs for my clients that have been very successful. There’s nothing more rewarding than watching a promotion come to life and deliver the kinds of results you and your client had hoped for and expected. How does that translate into becoming a national sales manager? Easy question…I wanted to have the same success I had at the local level with local clients on a bigger, broader scale with the biggest brands in the country. There’s nothing more challenging than taking a 10,000-pound gorilla in a client like Comcast and creative a localized program that can deliver results. All clients have the same needs whether it’s a local car dealer or a major brand like Home Depot. I always wanted to work with the world’s biggest brands, find their pain, develop solutions that answer that pain, and create/execute programs that deliver a tangible ROI.

Radio Ink: What is the outlook for national sales for the year ahead?
Matt Cowper: I truly believe it’s a promising and exciting time for national. Throughout my travels across the country meeting with VPs, media supervisors, account supervisors/directors, planners, and buyers, I’m definitely seeing the pendulum swing back in radio’s direction. More and more agencies are starting to understand the need for radio in their media mix and where we sit in the pecking order as a medium. While the world of digital remains the shiny toy, it remains relatively convoluted and complex. Clients are really starting to question their digital marketing, the amount being spent in the space and the impact it’s having on a client’s ROI. I’m seeing a shift of the digital dollars coming back to radio. We need to continue to tell our story of being the largest reach medium at 93% (vs TV 88%, Pure-Plays 15-20%). Another factor in radio’s forward momentum is analytics. With access to companies like Veritone, Analytical Owl, and Futuri, we can now play in the same sandbox as digital and show our return on investment through real-time intelligence. We continue to break down those walls and barriers to provide clients with successful ROI.

Radio Ink: Why has radio not been able to increase its overall share of the advertising pie in recent years?
Matt Cowper: Isn’t that the million dollar question we all wish we could solve?! I think it’s a combination of things…

  1. Digital: As I stated above, the combination of continued advancement from a technology standpoint, ability to provide real-time intelligence and analytical data, proven ROI, and accountability. As agencies continue to receive more and more pressure from clients to deliver, they are more apt to spend their marketing dollars in what they deem as a proven commodity. Digital is “safe”!
  2. Radio’s Voice: I don’t think we as an industry have done a good enough job over the years telling our story. Over the last two years, that has improved immensely. We need to make sure we are constantly telling radio’s amazing story of reach and ROI to every single agency at every level, as well as client side.
  3. TV: From a research, reach, and medium standpoint, I feel TV is in the toughest spot as viewers continue to move to other mediums via cord-cutting and new technology. This is an opportunity for radio. We have a bigger reach than TV. We need to tell that story. We have more ears than TV has eyes.
  4. New technology: Developing technology and the ability to access audio and video from so many sources has had a tremendous impact in all mediums.

Radio Ink: What are the three biggest challenges to being a successful NSM today?
Matt Cowper: 1.The story: NSM’s have access to the biggest clients in the world. That means we need to be prepared to have the right kinds of discussion about our medium, how it works, how we can deliver, how it is used in today’s deliverables (podcast, stream, video-pre-roll, Alexa platform). Getting to the right person who makes the ultimate decision on placement and media mix, whether it’s inside the agency or client side is the biggest challenge. You cannot reside with the buyer, supervisor, or VP of media. You must get to the planning side of the business to make sure radio is a part of the media mix before the decisions are made.

2. Technology: Things are changing rapidly and NSM’s need to keep up! Education, understanding, and access are key. You need to know what’s out there, how listeners are consuming media, what are their habits and tendencies, and where does radio fit in that landscape. A year ago, you couldn’t find one radio station on the Alexa platform. Now, over 75% of stations across the country are available on the Alexa platform, which is another avenue of access and opportunity to continue to grow. Podcasting is now the big buzz word. How does podcasting fit within the radio puzzle and how can we as an industry maximize and capitalize from a revenue and platform standpoint?

3. Competition: Media consolidation is inevitable. With Entercom purchasing CBS it has created a second giant in the industry that has platform and scale to deliver on a national scope. It’s challenging for companies like Beasley, Cox, Hubbard, Townsquare to compete with companies like iHeart and Entercom when it comes to putting together larger programs on larger platforms. They can go into a major client and offer them access to the top 25 markets with ease of execution. More and more agencies are cutting deals with broadcasters that have bigger platforms and access. However, I also see this as an opportunity for a company like Beasley to go into a client on a more intimate level, to dig deep, and create a program that’s more versatile, more creative, and more engaging. It’s a constant battle I deal with on a weekly basis, but we’re finding success.

Reach out to Matt and congratulate him on being one of radio’s great storytellers — Matthew.Cowper@bbgi.com

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