It’s Easy To Sell Radio Ads. Don’t Make It Hard

by Dec 22, 2019Radio Advertising

As we enter a new year and make our New Year’s resolutions, let’s add this one, please. Let’s make a promise to make our product/service easier, not harder, for our local clients to buy. Here are some ways we could do that.

First, let’s look at the stuff we really need to stop doing.

  1. Don’t dwell on ratings unless the client specifically asks for them. I’m just saying — why would you introduce this complicated process to anybody if you didn’t have to? Cost per point? Cost per impression? Ha. Try explaining those concepts to your non-media next-door neighbor and just watch how long it takes before his eyes cross. It’s confusing to most people, even to many of us in the business. In fact, it becomes so confusing to many local decisionmakers that they’ll hire an ad agency so they don’t have to deal with it anymore. And remember: “Live by the book, die by the book.” Those ratings you’re bragging about could come back and bite you in the future.
  2. Stop blurting out information about format/programming. Why gush about a format or a program the decisionmaker might be allergic to? I watched a TV sales manager go into granular detail about where her client’s spots were going to run. The minute she brought up The View, the client recoiled. He hated that show. Once I bragged about a new DJ at our station and the client refused to buy us because he’d lived in another market where that DJ had worked in the past and disliked him intensely.
  3. Don’t bring up signal coverage area unless the client specifically asks for it. As I reported a couple of months ago, a salesperson told me she had sold a client on buying her. And then, without being asked to do so, she sent the client a media kit that contained a signal coverage map. When the client saw that, she called and canceled because she didn’t see any value in reaching an audience that far away from her shop. Nothing the salesperson said could change the client’s mind.
  4. Stop selling cheap little packages. There are a couple of reasons we’re back at 1980s rates in all-sized markets. One is that we allowed the advertising agencies to hijack us. They dictate how much we can charge and how much “added value” we must contribute. We either comply and get the buy, or we resist and they buy around us.
  5. NEVER ask clients these two questions: “What do you want to say in your commercial?” and “What’s your budget?” Clients are not experts in writing and producing their own commercials. We know that as a fact. Instead of focusing on solving problems for your audience, the client-dictated commercials are almost always about the client instead.

And in virtually any other industry, the sellers tell the client how much their product or service costs. When we ask the client what their budget is, they almost always lowball. We should make a good case for the concept we bring to them, get their mouths watering, and then tell them how much it will cost.

Now, let’s discuss things we should be doing to help make us easier for local decisionmakers to buy.

  1. Instead of talking about ratings, signal coverage maps, format, and programming, let’s talk about ideas. Clients are looking for ways to make the cash register ring. Each time we approach local decisionmakers, let’s use bold headlines to get appointments. Let’s use voicemail to leave those headlines in 10-second voicemail commercials. Let’s come up with creative ideas the client would never think of on her own. And let’s present our ideas in such a way that the clients say out loud, “Wow, I never thought about it that way before.”
  2. Instead of asking the client what they want to spend, let’s tell them what the idea will cost, and back that up with an ROI concept they will understand. If you know the client’s gross margin of profit and average sale, in most cases you could pitch per week what you would normally ask for per month, with hard details in your pocket to back up your proposed budget.


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