Borrell Nailed It


(By Bob McCurdy) One of Gordon Borrell’s recently published charts was titled, “What Prompts Advertisers to Trust Reps?” It contained the feedback from 2,182 advertisers. A strong, statistically reliable in-tab.

Trust is defined as “to rely upon or place confidence in someone or something.” Needless to say we’re not going to sell much if our clients don’t have confidence in us. So what leads advertisers to trust and have confidence in media reps? According to these local advertisers it comes down largely to knowledge.

If client relationships are the revenue “engine,” “knowledge” is the gasoline. Our competition could match us tomorrow in terms of service and work ethic. When it comes to relationships, it might take a bit longer, but in most cases, with the proper expense account, relationships can be somewhat neutralized. But no expense account can neutralize knowledge. It’s our long-term competitive advantage due to the time and effort required to acquire it. There are no shortcuts.

Let’s check the survey results. The percentage of advertisers selecting the bolded statements as one of their top three choices out of the nine options available are in parenthesis.

Ability to clearly describe audience data/market reach/capabilities of his or her media product (58%)

Fluency with the facts. Knowing our stuff/our media assets inside and out. Would we put our ad budget and consequent business success at risk based upon recommendations from amateurs?

In a previous blog I referenced the article “How to Succeed in Marketing? Acquire More Knowledge.” According to the author, “Not enough people in the ad industry know what they need to know.” So “know more than the next person.” Borrell’s data supports this observation. A salesperson without trust is simply a commodity and is begging to be supplanted by the competition, just as advertising without trust is nothing more than annoying noise.

Knowledge of my business or industry (55%)

Becoming knowledgeable about our clients’ business has never been easier, it is spelled “the Internet” — where knowledge is available to every person on earth in seconds. Allocate half the time we spend on social media toward learning more about our clients business and we’ll be more successful.

Investment spend. Subscribe to key client trade journals. Investing the time and effort to learn their business is the quickest and most effective way to show a client that we care and are not there merely for the commission.

Advertisers are looking for guidance and direction. If the media landscape is confusing to us, think how our clients feel. We’re in the age of “outcomes,” where it is a requirement to be accountable for the success of the dollars advertisers invest. Our clients are surrounded by competitive sales reps who want some of their attention and a lot of their budget. Knowledge insulates us from this occurring. When our level of knowledge is high our client’s purchase risk is low. A win-win.

Overall knowledge about marketing and advertising (55%)

Read. Subscribe to WARC here. It’s an outstanding source of daily marketing insights and it is free. Be versed in the entire media landscape, demonstrating a compelling depth of knowledge in audio and digital, with a breadth of understanding of the total media landscape. Become a “mosaic” seller, versed in media beyond radio.

Knowledge builds up like compound interest and is an effective antidote to a client’s concern about investing with us. Our goal should be to continually fill any knowledge gaps to enhance our credibility. Sadly, there’s no certification required to sell advertising. We look upon ourselves as radio and digital consultants, but to effectively consult requires knowing more than those we’re consulting. Elevating our marketing expertise to a level that equates to a master’s or doctorate level in marketing is an objective worth pursuing.

Connection to the local market (37%)

Network. Keep notes. Aggregate success stories. Stay in tune with what other advertisers are doing in other media and on your stations. If you have Media Monitors, provide competitive activity recaps quarterly. Keep your radar up at all times, communicating all pertinent info to clients that might provide a competitive advantage.

Personal manner (25%)

Deals with emotional intelligence, knowing what kind of impact we’re having on someone else. When to push and when not to. Listening intently helps to pick up unspoken signals. Trusting our gut. Keep them wanting more of us, not less of us.

Knowledge of my account history (24%)

What worked and what didn’t. Knowing what have they done in the past and what the competition has been/is up to. Takes some effort but if we haven’t done our prep it becomes quickly apparent and they’ll lose confidence in us.

Network — people associations (15%)

Being wired in the market is a good thing. It’s good for our business to know a lot of people who think positively about us and not afraid to say so — to our current clients and prospective clients.

Physical appearance (7%)

It doesn’t take too much of an investment to give off an aura of success and professionalism. Use it to your advantage in this age of lax dress codes.

Length of time in the job (7%)

This should be encouraging for those without a lot of tenure. You can be a rookie but if you put in the work and study there is no reason why you can’t have the credibility of a veteran. Instead of working 40 hours/week, work 60, and squeeze another year of experience and knowledge for every two years worked.

There’s a ton of advertising options for advertisers out there. They need guidance and don’t have the inclination, nor the time necessary, to become marketing mavens. We have both, and this is where we must excel. As it has always been, local radio is “sold” not “bought,” and advertisers will do business with people they trust!

Bob McCurdy is The Vice President of Sales for The Beasley Media Group and can be reached at [email protected]


  1. Would it not be more profitable and effective for a radio AE to make the switch to full-media, full-service selling, and offer radio as a trinket?
    This, since radio refuses to go out of its way to improve the Creative.

  2. Amen. Learners are earners.

    Business expertise, and more particularly, business marketing expertise, is at the very least, as mission-relevant as radio selling expertise. When we provide advertisers with overarching (transcending radio), custom-designed, marketing systems/strategies/tactics and tools, this enables us to identify, quantify, and monetize more opportunities for the advertiser and the media seller.

    That contrasts with the typical media presentation of a compendium of tactics – going far beyond a schedule, three spec spots, a promotion, plus a smattering of digital delights also provided by so many would be competitors within a mile of the advertiser.

    Therefore, the need to not only learn and keep on top of what’s working/what’s coming in each advertiser’s industry is critical, so much more so, the need for ongoing learning about any way any client can increase sales/profits/cash flow.

    When we identify and work with the advertiser to quantify these opportunities, and then provide unique and compelling perspectives to monetize them, this uncovers more dollars for all, and increases the advertiser’s ROI in doing business with us.


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