(By Charlie Sislen) I was never a Boy Scout, but I always appreciated their motto: “Be Prepared.” While that is always important, it may never be more important than the present time.
In mid-March, most people’s lives began to go through a massive disruption. This includes, but is not limited to, every radio sales rep who is reading this commentary. Overnight, billing disappeared. When offices were still open, I remember one Market Manager saying, “I can take cancellations at home as easy as I can in the office.”
While the drop in billing was sudden and deep, there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel. As states slowly open up, we believe that demand for radio inventory will also pick up. Clearly, the rebound will be significantly slower than the decline, but remind yourself of the Boy Scouts’ motto.
It is not productive to dwell on the past, but how you treat advertisers during a downturn can impact how you are treated in this slow rebound. Those advertisers that felt that they were treated fairly and with empathy should be more open to considering your proposal. Just remember, other sales reps were likely also treating them with similar professional empathy. You still need to be considerate and flexible, because your competition will be.
As states and your market slowly open up, how you approach this opportunity can determine how successful you are at turning your billing around.
While many advertising sales reps outlined the advantage of marketing during the downside, many advertisers did not, or could not, continue to support their brand. For those, they need to advertise to make sure that they rebuild their brand. Have them consider it like a “GRAND REOPENING.” They need to build the fanfare and excitement, without the crowds. This may take more than your street team showing up and giving away swag – if you still have swag.
Finally, the message is key. In the recent seminar that Gordon Borrell just offered, he gave three important messages that advertisers should offer to their potential customers. They include:
- Open for business
- COVID-19 compliant
- Offering deep discounts
These three messages are valuable once the brand has been reestablished. Only then can an offer be made that can drive revenue.
Charlie Sislen is a partner at Research Director, Inc. He can be reached at 410-956-0363 or by e-mail at [email protected]. This essay is part of a series titled “Growing the Radio Pie.” To view past articles, visit The Ratings Experts at Research Director, Inc. online here.