The Radio Revenue Problem


(By Loyd Ford) What I am writing about today is for the sales manager or market manager who is reassessing their sales efforts. Maybe revenue is down. Maybe it isn’t what it used to be. That’s not a sign the sky is falling. Not at all.

It may be a sign you need better clients.

Local radio stations or clusters of radio stations offer wonderful promotion, marketing, and relationship opportunities for advertisers to take advantage of and can absolutely be your gateway to doing what all great businesses do over time: Developing diverse revenue streams beyond your “original business markers.”

Many local radio owners have a disconnect when it comes to one of the following (or – unfortunately both).

  • Continuously recruiting sellers 
  • Developing continuous education and local training for new and experienced sellers

Notice the second bullet point is about doing regular local training.

These are two of the most critical strategies you can follow consistently to keep revenue moving in your direction. When you faithfully execute these two things consistently, the confidence of your sellers, their knowledge, and skills rise and so does your revenue.

What’s Next For Radio Growth

We are in a business that allows us to be opportunists. If we are unwilling to be strategic opportunists today, we may become less sustainable as a business. If you are in a management job responsible for revenue or in a local radio ownership position and you are still reluctant to fully develop your digital business, I encourage and urge you to act swiftly to educate yourself and get engaged in digital and digital sales in your market before it is too late.

More than that, focus on improving the profit margin in this part of your business.

Local radio has larger opportunities to advance our revenue in a variety of lanes beyond over-the-air broadcast revenue and we must look to advance revenue and profit margin in these and potentially other areas:

  • Digital
  • Events
  • Social Media
  • Podcasting
  • Database marketing

While you are attached to broadcasting, what you really are in the 2020s is a unique problem-solver. Or you better be.

As we have discussed in this column recently, our business sometimes falls short by participating in “Ready, FIRE!, aim!” You’ve heard this a lot in your life: “Most battles are won before the first shot is fired.” Better preparation has never been more important for local radio culture than it can be today (unless you consider the future of your business).

As only one example, being prepared in advance to engage in a local or regional fair and approaching them well before the events themselves with a strategy that allows you to promote the events and profit yourself can play a critical role in helping you develop significant revenue opportunities around your participation with such events. At the same time, you can be freed from limiting your revenue by looking beyond only the fair as your source of revenue. Think bigger

Innovation Is Needed For Growth

It’s often easy to see that we need innovation in programming, but no one should misunderstand that sales, sales strategy, and sales process might need innovation as well. The times, they are a changin’.

Every person on your sales team wants to win. In fact, right now they are doing what they think winning looks like. Proper education and training can help you refine what winning should look like and elevate your local sales effort significantly. Every person on your team also wants authentic growth and purpose.

Here are a few questions for you:

  • Do you have a mission statement that your individual sellers know?
  • Do you have a written strategy to reach the goals you have for your business and have you communicated this strategy to your sellers?
  • Do you see your business as a sales and marketing business attached to radio or do you still see your business as only radio?

Be willing to ask yourself questions. Be prepared to think bigger. Be prepared to supply your team with a purpose beyond only making money.

Be willing to invite measured risk and strategic planning into your business. Reinvite creativity to help you grow revenue opportunities.

And One More Little Thing

It’s not just recruiting that is important. It’s having the right people on your team in the right positions and being skilled at retaining your best sales talent.

You are in the problem-solving business. 

THAT makes you a winner at creating growth today and tomorrow.

Loyd Ford is president and chief strategic officer at Rainmaker Pathway Consulting Works (RPC). They help local radio with ratings and revenue. Reach him anytime at 864.448.4169 or [email protected]. Read Loyd’s Radio Ink archives here.


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