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Why Selling Radio Spots Doesn’t Work Anymore.

Last month I met with a senior level manager at a mid-size radio group and we were looking at their year over year comparison. Every year they would have all of this brand new business, which was fantastic but then looking at the following year, all of that new business would just die off. So there was literally no carry over. They would sell these contracts (and they were selling a lot of them) but then after the contracts were done the clients would just go away.  And this was happening year after year.

Think about that. Every year they would go out and sell a whack ton of new business and then they would have to go out the following year and do the exact same thing all over again JUST to make up the loss in sales. Needless to say, this senior level manager was beyond frustrated with the trend.

So why was this happening? Was it because their account reps just weren’t that good at selling? But wait … they were selling … and they were selling a ton. The reason was (and I said this directly to them) – “the reason you have all of this new business one year and a bunch of ZEROS the next … is because you’ve been selling Radio Spots.”

I know that feels like a bit of an oxymoron doesn’t it?  I mean, isn’t that precisely what we’re trying to sell?  Spots on the Radio? Yes and No. You obviously can’t sell radio advertising without at some point producing some spots. But ultimately – big picture – you’re not selling your client a radio spot, you’re selling them a brand.  More specifically an Audio Brand.

Every company has a visual brand, right? A logo, colors, shapes and fonts and in just the same way every company should have an audible brand. Especially in this day and age where audio and video consumption are at an all time high.

So, you might even want to consider positioning yourself as more of an ‘Audio Brand Specialist’ as opposed to just a radio seller. Because we all know that it’s not JUST about radio anymore. It’s about helping your clients build stronger, more recognizable brands. You’re obviously still selling radio (and likely digital) but this way you’ll be positioning yourself in a way that’s going to give you longevity and it’s going to allow you to make BIGGER asks! You want annual contracts or even multi-annual contracts! That’s the approach that’s going to change the game for you.

If you continue selling contracts on a spot by spot basis, you are missing out and you’re actually not doing your client any favours either. You might think it’s a win because you just made the sale. You may even have your client convinced that scraping together enough budget for a three week schedule is going to be the solution to their marking, but trust me, in the end, you are just tainting the soil.

This type of sales strategy will inevitably end up producing yet another business owner that eventually says “No thanks. I tried radio once and it didn’t work.” Now you’ve got your job cut out for you trying to convince them to give radio another shot (which you likely won’t do) and at that point, you might as well just take them off your list.

You’re the expert and it’s up to you to educate your clients on how radio works.

At CreativeReady we use the term – “Annual Plans and Audio Brands” – and we totally believe this is the ultimate win/win strategy for you and your clients.

Annual contracts that have consistent frequency paired with an Audio Brand that is catchy, creative and compelling is the formula to a successful advertising campaign. And if you can create a successful ad campaign for your client – they will do it again, and again, and again! Until it gets to the point where their radio advertising is etched so deeply into their local market that everyone thinks of them first when they need whatever it is your client sells. Do all of this and congratulations – you’ve basically just created a self-renewing client.

And the best part is their advertising is working and that usually means their business is growing. So now you’re a hero … a hero that gets paid.

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