Stop Hating Agencies And Be More Like Them Instead


(By Paul Weyland) Just for kicks, let’s take off our broadcast shoes and try on the shoes of an advertising agency executive. I have always believed we could learn a lot from the agencies about selling and then keeping accounts long-term. How do they do that? Here’s how.

Agencies pitch long-term solutions. They aren’t like us, pitching cheap little packages a month at a time. They sell their clients on longer-term media strategies. We should be doing that, too. That’s why I tell clients I’m there to help them develop and implement a five-year marketing and advertising plan, and that we’ll break that plan down into annual increments so we can measure progress.

I’ve noticed that when I say that to local decision-makers, they tend to nod, because seldom do they have their own long-term plans. That’s why they jump around from broadcast TV to cable to radio to ads in print.

Agencies aren’t obsessed with selling their clients just one or two stations in a market; their approach usually includes more than one medium. With digital products, we too can pitch multiple mediums to our clients. Why, then, are we still so focused on selling month-to-month or quarterly campaigns? Why do we still have trouble pitching and getting long-term agreements with local direct customers? Because it’s not in our DNA. The more long-term (annual or longer) business we get, the better off we’ll be.

When auto dealers tell us they’re using broadcast dollars to pursue new “digital mandates,” why aren’t we offering them a more holistic local approach? For example, why not set up a “Virtual New Car Show” for select auto dealers? I start by reminding dealers that a lot more people come to our websites than come to theirs. And we have great new ways to use our local websites to help them sell vehicles locally.

Why not use the power of our broadcast stations and our digital products to drive consumers to local dealerships? Why aren’t we helping dealerships tell our audiences the features on new vehicles that they don’t have on their older models?

We could be using smartphone cameras to examine new vehicles up close and then tease our audiences with on-air commercials and promotional announcements like, “You’ve seen the new Dodge Challenger on the road.

But come to our Virtual New Car Show online and take a look at the interior of this great new muscle car. And we even take a good look under the hood.” What a great idea to take to say, seven or so auto dealerships.

By using the holistic power of our broadcast stations combined with our new digital components, we could take a much larger percentage of the client’s local advertising dollars, not just our little piece of the overall broadcast percentage. And we could develop promotions that could include clients who have never considered advertising with us before.

For example, people of a certain age get to the point that they begin to notice that their aging parents might need to reassess their living arrangements. Kids come home for the holidays and are alarmed that one of their parents is having trouble remembering things or is becoming confused about medications.

Why not develop a long-term strategy you could tease on the air that could direct people to a website with the answers to all the questions they might have regarding elder care? “Is she eligible for Medicaid? Could he continue to live at home if he had somebody you could trust that came in to assist? For the answers to all of these questions, visit our website and click on Elder Care.”

You could sell sponsorships to people in the assisted-living area, or certain doctors or healthcare corporations, attorneys that specialize in elder care, home health companies, and other businesses that help elderly people.

If we changed our thinking, we could do what good advertising agencies do, and close bigger and longer-term deals. With a more holistic sales approach, we could be the “agency of record” with more of our clients.

Feel the local client’s pain and help them do something about it. Amazon Prime is the biggest threat local retailers have ever had to deal with. Help your clients promote the things that they do best that your audiences of consumers could never get by buying online.

The future of the broadcast industry depends on our ability to help our local direct decision-makers come up with solid long-term creative and marketing strategies.



  1. The only thing an advertising agency has over a Radio rep is the air of impartiality. When in fact they usually have their preferred medium they like to push, often one with some additional markup besides just 15% commission.

    I think Paul is right to encourage salespeople to consider themselves as more of a global resource and not just a Radio rep.

    We are in the business of bringing buyers and sellers together. We can accomplish this feat in many ways besides just with Radio commercials.

    But it takes someone with the initiative to commit to a program of continuous professional self development.

    That means devoting some personal time to learning more about your chosen profession.

    Key me know if you need help getting started.

  2. It is humorous that more people do not challenge the generalities and platitudes that “consultants” like Weyland put forth. Weyland consistently infers that local businesses are essentially stupid, that they have no plans, and that they must be guided and directed by a radio rep. Very parochial and narrow-minded thinking. And to suggest to go in to a business with a 5 year plan is highly naive, at best. There is not a local business anywhere, that “plans ahead” for 5 years. Sure, some businesses have long-term strategies. But they are constantly revising those strategies, and long term strategies never include committing 5 years out to radio ad schedules, or other minutiae like that. Consultants should have their theories be at least in the general universe of reality.

  3. I should say that I worked in TV, not radio but always used this site as a resource. That being said, I found that everyone in the building was too fearful, and probably ill-equipped to take on new ideas. If I were to suggest that I was going to take some time to put together a plan similar to what you described above I would be met with the argument that working on the plan would prevent me from making my mandatory number of useless cold calls that day. Doing one big annual deal would harm my ability to close my mandatory number of contracts that month. What? Consider an annual deal, on paper, the same as 12 individual deals???? Can’t be done!!!


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