Our Message Isn’t Getting Across!

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(By Bob McCurdy) I ran into a New York ad agency CEO at the airport last week on my way to the Radio Show. Coincidentally, he was on his way to Orlando to meet with a client. As the weather would have it, we were delayed four hours, providing ample time to share observations regarding advertising, the onslaught of developing technology, as well as the agency and radio worlds. I’ve known this individual for over 30 years. He is bright, successful, a big fan of the radio medium, and he holds nothing back. Disappointingly, in many ways our discussion when it came to “radio,” was similar to the others we’ve had over the years.

Some conversation takeaways:

– Radio is not on most CMOs’ radar. Several of his clients actually “chide” him about continually pitching the merits of the medium to them.

– He asked, “TV has attribution capabilities via CoreMedia and other attribution tools, why doesn’t radio?” I then opened my laptop and demonstrated Analytic Owl’s capabilities. He was dumbfounded. We are now discussing “connecting” one of his largest radio accounts to the service to provide campaign analytics. He then stated that not a single radio salesperson has mentioned this product or any other similar attribution product to him. His question to me was, “Why isn’t anyone talking about this?” He then went on to state that if we were able to effectively attribute radio’s impact for the advertiser referenced above, that he would attempt to re-engage with one of his other clients who had left the radio medium due to the lack of metrics and perceived non-performance.

– Next, he relayed a recent situation where radio was being blamed for having “run its course” — i.e. not performing for a DR client, with the client pushing to move all dollars to TV. He then walked me through how this DR client gauges media performance by simply asking responders where they heard about the product. Scary? Can you remember what you had for breakfast yesterday? Numerous studies have consistently found that even if a brand has never advertised on TV, it was not uncommon for the advertising “recalled” to be attributed to television. This type of media misattribution is not fiction and is a well-known fact within the advertising research community.

It gets scarier. This exec’s agency recently got involved and did a deep dive on the schedules being purchased for another client and discovered that “radio” wasn’t the issue as they had been told by the client. What was the issue was the manner in which the medium was being bought by the client’s current agency. The agency was accepting all kinds of ROS rotators, wasn’t managing non-clearances, and was actually, on average, delivering only 65 GRPs/week instead of the targeted 100 GRPs. It is little wonder that radio’s “performance” tapered off.

– CMOs will not invest in any medium unless they receive data corroborating performance. This executive is keenly aware of the digital issues with fraud, bots, etc. and the limitations of digital’s performance metrics, but he stressed that at least digital is providing some form of metrics.

– Radio salespeople still don’t know their “product” or understand “marketing” the way they should to effectively compete in this digitally skewed marketing environment. Many have at best a minimum level of digital expertise/knowledge, with few capable of effectively presenting their digital assets.

Some takeaways from this conversation:

– Much of what we discussed could have been discussed 10, 20, 30 years ago. We are making progress, but not enough.

– It’s time to raise our game, getting to key decision-makers and educating them regarding the data we as salespeople, and as an industry, can provide. If we are not doing this with every client and agency, it is the equivalent of professional malpractice. This requires each of us to be fluent and fluid in the explanation of this data and methodologies and will likely require some practicing, drilling, and rehearsing.

 Nothing takes the place of “being here” and spreading the word first-hand. The only things that grow in the dark are mushrooms, not revenue. We have to tell our story and let every client know what assets and tools we offer. And when we think we’ve told it enough, tell it again.

Convincing ourselves doesn’t win an argument. We can tell ourselves how terrific we are at conferences, but if the rubber is not meeting the road on the streets, communicating our data story to the right people, we can expect more of the same. It’s up to each of us to play a role in creating our collective favorite future: more industry revenue.

By the way, the just-concluded 2018 RAB/NAB Radio show was outstanding.

Bob McCurdy is The Vice President of Sales for The Beasley Media Group and can be reached at bob.mccurdy@bbgi.com

3 COMMENTS

  1. Quantified sales attribution for each radio station is the ultimate testimony to the power of radio. Sales attribution in terms of advertisers in small through large markets being able to measure sales results to the penny, from each radio station’s campaign.

    The beauty is in that there exist the proven systems, strategies, tactics and tools enabling us to do this – however, few show willingness to do so. Bewildering.

    That’s the competitive opportunity, expressed two ways:
    1) More sales, more profits for radio advertisers.
    2) More sales, more profits for radio sellers; both in quantum, and per hour of prospecting, preparing, presenting, closing and servicing.

    So what can we as an industry do, to do more of this?

  2. Great article and great observations as always Bob. The problem is not the product, it’s the packaging!!!
    The industry sell-side is still in general bringing 1988 punch points and practices to 2018 marketer conversations and challenges. No wonder perceptions lag reality. What’s required is more upstream marketer to marketer conversations and ideation. Seller to buyer conversations do all a disservice

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