Staying on Top of Trends in Advertising and Marketing

sales strategy, Corporate Support, underwriting prospect

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When I started working in sales in commercial media, about the year 40 BC (Before Computers), it wasn’t uncommon to ask a prospective advertiser for recent copies of the trade magazines they subscribed to. That was how almost every salesperson learned about the prospect’s industry and business. Back then the prospect was willing and had time to talk about it with sales reps.

Times have changed.

Now, prospects are bombarded by media sales reps. Think about it. In almost every city there may be about 30 salespeople representing various radio and TV stations, and a half dozen or so from the daily, local, and business papers. Add in another dozen sales reps from billboard companies, direct mail and marketing businesses, cable TV, and online marketing companies. It’s easy to understand that a business owner or their marketing person is being called on by dozens of media sales reps every month. Businesses don’t have the time to educate every salesperson about their business, nor should they have to do that. That’s our responsibility.

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How to Get "in the Zone" in Underwriting Sales More Often

sales strategy, Corporate Support

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There’s a familiar phrase in professional sports: “in the zone.” Professional basketball  players on a hot streak shooting from beyond the three-point line are in the zone. Baseball players enjoying a hitting streak might say the ball seems impossible not to hit when they are in the zone. When a golfer’s swing seems effortless, when she sinks her putts on the green with ease, she’s in the zone.

What contributes to being in the zone? Being completely focused on the moment. Everything else seems to fade into the background, including the noise of the crowd.

When performing an activity, and being immersed in the moment, there’s an energized focus. Being in the zone is when you’re completely involved and concentrating on your actions.

In sales, you experience being in the zone, mainly when three conditions are in play:

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Secrets of the Best Sales Reps: Systems

sales strategy, Corporate Support, prospecting

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I used to work for a guy who would ask one key question during the interview process: “What makes you good at what you do?” If the candidate couldn’t articulate that, he wasn’t interested in hiring them. When I asked him about it, he said that really good salespeople have a self-awareness of why they are successful that makes their behavior repeatable. And this is the key: Do you know what you do when you win, and can you do it again…and again...and again?

As sales reps we need to know what brings us success so that we can repeat that behavior. Having good systems is one of the best ways to do that. Systems allow you to build self-awareness of why and how prospects choose to do business with you. You can be the most charming and persuasive person, but if you can’t keep track of yourself, those wins will merely be luck- and not necessarily repeatable.


For active accounts, you should have a way to track past, current, and future billing. Are they spending more each year, the same, or less? Do you know why? You need to offer excellent service to your active accounts which includes meeting their copy needs and knowing when to change the message.

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Sure-Bet Tactics to Renew Underwriting Clients

sales strategy, Corporate Support, underwriter renewal

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I was contacted recently by an underwriting salesperson with a question about renewing one of his account's annual underwriting agreement. He told me that the year-long agreement was ending in a month and he hadn’t talked to the underwriter since the agreement was signed the previous year.

I told him he was about ten months late in starting the renewal process.

The way I see it, the renewal process for underwriting should begin when you first sign up a new underwriter.

I don’t mean that you should have a renewal agreement ready to give to your first-time underwriter. However, when a businessperson signs their first underwriting agreement, that’s when it’s time to ramp up your relationship with the account and start to plan for the future. Instead of thinking of the process as a renewal, look at it as a continuation of your business relationship

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Nurture Your Underwriting Client Relationships After the Close

sales strategy, Corporate Support, prospecting

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You’ve worked hard to sign up your new underwriter. You started with an initial meeting to learn about her challenges and objectives. Then you followed up with information how your media can provide a solution targeting her desired outcome. She liked your presentation and proposal; your answers to her questions, and she decided to become an underwriter.

What do you do now?

Believe it or not, the sale is not complete. The commitment is there but you’ve not yet started to deliver what she purchased. So, next up… 

Write up the underwriting agreement and have it signed and returned to you.

Corporate Support Administrative Templates

Draft the underwriting copy so it conveys her marketing message and complies with the FCC’s and your station’s copy guidelines. Once the copy is approved, send her a recording of the spot. Let her know she can share it with her employees and post it on her company’s website. 

Send her a schedule of times that her underwriting spots will air during the first week so she’ll know when to listen in to hear her spot.

After the contract is signed, the copy is produced and ready for airing, and you’ve sent her the list of when her spots will air during the first week you’re all done. Right?

There’s still more work to be done.

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Position the Wins of Public Media Sponsorship Against the Trend of Programmatic Ad-Buying

sales strategy, programmatic buying, Corporate Support

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The digital media environment continues to change at a rapid pace. In order to sell digital sponsorship with confidence, we need to stay ahead of the pace of change by educating ourselves about the latest trends.

The trend toward programmatic ad buying continues to increase, and this is a bit of a pain point for us in public media. Because of our language restrictions, we can't wholeheartedly embrace this trend alongside other advertisers. 

Clients who engage in programmatic buying are using a publisher or ad network/agency to set a determined budget, upper/lower CPM, and start/end dates. The process is self-service so when the buyer clicks "go," the buy is executed automatically, non-stop, until the budget or end-date is reached. 

If you're talking to a prospect about digital sponsorship, you should assume they're engaging in some sort of programmatic buying. Common platforms are through Google and Facebook, but the practice is becoming more universal. In fact, an April report from eMarketer shows that $46 billion will be spent on programmatic advertising this year, meaning that 82.5 percent of digital display ads in the U.S. will be purchased through automated channels.

This doesn't mean there's not a valuable place for public media sponsorship.

Radio advertisers like digital.

There a strong case to be made to your clients for broadcast and digital to be sold together. Why? Because:

  • Merging broadcasting and digital gives additional reach and/or repetition.
  • 85% of radio advertisers also buy digital (RAB and BA 2017).
  • Digital generates 7.5% of average station revenue (RAB and BA 2017). This will grow as digital migration continues.
  • Public media’s audience, content, community, and uncluttered environment still entice buyers.

Be ready to position against programmatic.

Programmatic has a low barrier to entry, is low-maintenance, and increasingly common. But it  does have its weaknesses.  Significant percentages of media buyers cites the following - legitimate - concerns about programmatic: (eMarketer 2017)
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Know When to Stop Pursuing an Underwriting Prospect Who Isn't Interested

sales strategy, Corporate Support, underwriting prospect

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It has happened to all of us at one time or another. You had an underwriting prospect who had agreed to work with you. She even said, “Let’s get started!” Then she disappeared - with no warning - and you never heard from her again.

So what do you do next?

You begin chasing the prospect. But what you may not be aware of is that you’re trying to catch someone who doesn’t have any intention of letting you catch her.

Some salespeople are doing more chasing than catching.

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How to Stay Motivated During Your First Year in Public Media Underwriting Sales

onboarding, sales strategy, Corporate Support

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I was lucky when the general manager of a rock and roll radio station in Pittsburgh hired me for my first radio sales job. I had limited experience – a couple of years of selling print advertising for a weekly suburban newspaper – and no background in radio.

During the interview process the GM made me promise I would stay in the job for at least one year. I wasn’t allowed to quit before then. She warned me: the first year would be hard… really hard. I would get discouraged; I might feel that success always lay just beyond my grasp.

But then she told me something that I’ve found to be true, time and again: passing that one-year mark feels like turning a corner. Suddenly everything starts to make sense. “Aha! I get it now.”

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The Best (and Hardest) Realities of Public Radio Sales Right Now

PMDMC, sales strategy, Corporate Support

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Life moves pretty fast in the world of public radio sales. But one thing remains constant: public radio still has a strong value proposition! This was the spirit of a discussion at the 2018 PMDMC, titled "The New Realities of Public Radio Sales." Marlene Schneider of Enginuity Workshop facilitated a conversation with Bryan Moffett of National Public Media and Millie Adan-Garza from Houston Public Media (HPM), as well as an audience workshop, to explore what we're facing nationally and locally in public radio sales.

What are marketers' challenges these days? (Hint: many of the same things that challenge us!)

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Top Underwriting Category Takeaways: Financial

PMDMC, sales strategy, Corporate Support

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In an interesting panel focused the financial category at the 2018 PMDMC, Matt Doubleday from Wintrust Financial Corp was interviewed by his sales rep from WBEZ in Chicago, Adrienne Smith.   

Before we get to the meat of the session, it is worth noting that the account was not easily secured due to budget priorities and limitations of the past. As the bank grew, so did budgets. So when Smith called with a great idea involving a podcast called “Curious City,” which was all about Chicago, Doubleday saw it as a perfect fit, and he was able to commit to sponsoring it, along with traditional on-air underwriting to become a significant sponsor of WBEZ.

Here are the main takeaways from  this category conversation:

  1. Sponsoring WBEZ is a great way for Wintrust to play up the local angle, which is a huge part of how they differentiate themselves from larger national banks. In all their marketing they speak to the importance of being based in Chicago, where decisions are made locally; investing in neighborhoods is a key focus of their corporate social responsibility. WBEZ, as a nonprofit, is a strong addition to those efforts.
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