Effective Ways to Educate Clients About the Reality of Radio Listenership

sales strategy, Corporate Support

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Many stations have seen a surge in digital traffic as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. And many agree that digital sponsorship revenue is likely to further increase as the work-from-home phenomenon and other consumer and marketing shifts continue into 2022 and beyond. Much about this has been great news for public media, both because it has helped to fill some of the void left by broadcast revenue loss in the past 18 months, and because it has helped stations get their backend and digital inventory operations in order to grow audience and sponsor engagement across digital platforms. 

But this excitement about digital has also generated marketplace misperceptions about radio that many sales teams are working to overcome.

Perception vs. Reality

Many marketers and media buyers continue to think that the audience attrition felt at the beginning of the pandemic continues, and that radio listenership is essentially dead. 

In reality though, radio has the biggest share of listening time compared to streaming, podcasts, and other audio listening; many public media stations are within 10% of their pre-COVID audience numbers.

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The Five Best Sponsorship Business Categories to Work Right Now

sales strategy, Corporate Support, prospecting

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It’s exciting to see performing arts come back, events being scheduled, and the return of concerts and festivals of all kinds. We’re all hungry to go out again.

But, wait, let’s not forget what lesson we learned in sponsorship from the absence of all our beloved performing arts during the pandemic. It’s important to always, always keep a vital list of sponsorship accounts across a range of business categories including healthcare, professional services, local and state government, financial services, colleges and universities, senior living, and retail.

If you took time during the  pandemic to prospect every other business category while performing arts were dormant, good for you! You may have made progress and brought in some new sponsorship business. So don’t stop now. Welcome back your performing arts friends and clients, while still focusing on the addition of new business in other categories to your account list.

Recently the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) presented a “Radio Works for Recruitment Advertising” webinar that focused on the future of the job market. The RAB shared Bureau of Labor Statistics data compiled by the American Staffing Association (ASA) which identified the top five sectors for wage and salary jobs through 2029.

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Bathroom Scales and Underwriting Sales: The Not-So-Likely Connection

sales strategy, Corporate Support

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During my lifetime, I have gained and lost over 700 pounds. I used to be morbidly obese, once tipping the scale at 260 plus pounds. No big surprise. According to the CDC, four out of five African American women are either overweight or obese. For more than four decades, I was a card-carrying member of that out-of-control sorority. And for more than a decade, I worked in public media—serving seven years as Director of Corporate Underwriting for Public Radio WEAA in Baltimore and four years as a Senior Account Executive at Maryland Public Television. A few years ago, I lost 60 pounds, kept it off, and launched a BRAND-NEW chapter in my life. Now I show overweight, overworked, overstressed, perimenopausal, menopausal, post-menopausal women—like I used to be—and anyone else who is over it how to quiet the battle between mind, body, and food. What the heck does this have to do with underwriting sales? Keep reading. 

BRAND-NEW thoughts about food or anything, even underwriting sales, lead to BRAND-NEW behaviors— and outcomes. Here, I unpack the eight-step strategy I used to achieve and teach weight loss mastery. My program mirrors the actual letters in BRAND-NEW. Upon reflection, I recognized these as the same steps I followed throughout my 40-year career in sales—a career that has generated more than $75,000,000 in revenue. 

B: Begin and Believe

Converting a $5,000 sponsor into a $50,000 partner (hint: $50,000 doesn’t have to come from one client) begins with imagining all that could be involved in getting there. If you want a BRAND-NEW and improved relationship with a client, you must first believe a better relationship is even possible. This is where you begin to write a BRAND-NEW story positioning yourself to provide maximum value to your clients. When you “begin with the end in mind,” you immediately start to think differently, ask different questions, and believe in BRAND-NEW outcomes.

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How to Pivot Corporate Support to Meet This Year's Challenges, Part 3

sales strategy, Corporate Support, COVID-19

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Greater Public CEO Joyce MacDonald recently sat down again with Paul Jacobs, VP/General Manager of Jacobs Media, for the third in a series of conversations about disruptions to the public media corporate support landscape (go back and read Part 1 and Part 2). The discussion was designed to take stock of where we are a little over a year into the pandemic and to offer advice for sales teams working towards recovery: 

First the good news: things are better than they were this time last year … 

But, to state the obvious: they are still messy! 

Here are a few tips from the conversation to help you continue to navigate through the uncertainty, keeping this guiding principle top-of-mind:

Just because things are beginning to resemble “normal” life, we are not going back to the way things were. If you are looking at 2021 through a 2019 lens, you are in trouble. 

Consider:

Digital Acceleration

The shift to digital marketing that was taking place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic is now accelerating. This is primarily because many local companies had to learn digital as a survival tactic to literally keep their businesses open during lockdown. In doing so, here's what they learned:

  • Digital marketing is not as hard as they thought, in fact it is pretty easy.
  • Digital marketing offers direct communication with customers, which they like.
  • Digital marketing makes tracking and testing possible, which allows for flexibility of messaging and spend in an uncertain business environment. Again, something they like. 

As a result, they will continue using digital moving forward.

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More "Share of Wallet" Can Deliver More Revenue and Better Results

sales strategy, Corporate Support

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BIA Advisory Services, which tracks the local advertising spend for 16 different media, half of which are traditional and half of which are digital/online, is reporting that radio advertising spends will be up slightly this year. To get more revenue, and deliver stronger sponsor results, we in public radio sponsorship can work on getting more “share of wallet.” 

“Share of wallet” is defined in this context as the dollar amount a client spends with a particular advertising media. Radio, historically, has not asked for enough “share of wallet” compared to the unparalleled reach that radio offers. This year, if you change your expectations and your “ask," you can change your sponsorship revenue results.

The Radio Advertising Bureau reports the total number of radio listeners from Nielsen’s RADAR data every year.  92% of all Americans over the age of 18 listened to radio in 2019. As of August 2020, in Nielsen’s Total Audience Report, approximately 91% of all Americans over the age of 18 were listening to radio. According to Nielsen  this means that Radio is America’s #1 reach media. 241.6 million people listen to radio each week. How does this compare to TV? Television reaches 80% of Americans over the age of 18 according to the same Nielsen data. 

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Corporate Support Strategy in the Coming Year: Telling a Client “No”

sales strategy, Corporate Support

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After a recent lively one-on-one conversation with Greater Public CEO Joyce MacDonald, Vice President and General Manager of Jacobs Media, Paul Jacobs, answered some additional questions from station colleagues across the system about corporate support efforts in the wake of challenges from the past year.

Q: What if you love the client, their passion, and idea, but you know their promotion will fail, which might damage their faith in the public radio audience or spread the virus. How would you handle that?

Jacobs: I have always believed that good news travels fast, but so does bad news. So if you allow a client to do the wrong thing, or something you believe won’t work, it’s incumbent on you to say something for a few reasons.

First, of course you want it to work for them. Second, if a credit sounds bad or inappropriate or simply doesn’t fit, all of your listeners will hear it, which reflects badly on the station. Third, if it fails, don’t assume the client won’t share that experience with others. Business people talk to other business people, and word spreads. So even if a client insists on doing it their way, you need to be on record as warning them, so in the event it doesn’t work, you might get a second bite of the apple to do it your way. If you don’t, it’s likely they will conclude that public radio doesn’t work and move on.

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Corporate Support Strategy in the Coming Year: Shopping Guides to Support Local Businesses

sales strategy, Corporate Support

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After a recent lively one-on-one conversation with Greater Public CEO Joyce MacDonald, Vice President and General Manager of Jacobs Media, Paul Jacobs, answered some additional questions from station colleagues across the system about corporate support efforts in the wake of challenges from the past year.

Q. You suggested on the webinar that stations should "promote local business.” I don't disagree, but is it legal for public stations to say 'shop local' on the air? And, even if legal, is it wise? Doesn't that undercut the messages from most if not all our national underwriters? 

Jacobs: I’m the last person you should ask about legalities so I’ll leave that up to other smart people. Let’s face it, Amex does a ton of business with Target and Wal-Mart, and they just sponsored “Small Business Saturday.” Shopping local not only appeals to local businesses, it is in sync with your local audience. As media becomes more nationalized, there’s benefit to reminding the audience you are local and care about the community where you both live.

“Shop Local” can also take many forms. It doesn’t necessarily have to be on the air. It can be an online initiative. For example, Louisville Public Media calls their effort the “Sponsor Market.”

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How to Pivot Corporate Support to Meet This Year's Challenges, Part 2

sales strategy, Corporate Support, COVID-19

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After their first conversation about disruptions to the public media corporate support landscape due to COVID-19, Greater Public CEO Joyce MacDonald sat down again with Paul Jacobs, VP/General Manager of Jacobs Media to learn about his best advice as we move into the new year. 

Where we are: the wild ride continues

The roller coaster of a year has continued for businesses, consumers, and media companies alike. Last fall brought more uncertainty with colder weather, a rise in COVID cases and more restrictions. At the same time, the promise of a vaccine is a bright light taking us into 2021, and there is hope that by Q2 business and marketing may start to come back to an operational “normal” (although things will never be as they were).

Consider these trends and their long-term impacts, which are still unknown:

  • Consumers are moving out of big cities.
  • Two million women have voluntarily left the workforce.
  • Many small businesses - including those that are the bread and butter for public media - probably won’t make it.
  • Working from home is likely to be a part of business operations for the foreseeable future.
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Surefire Ways to Secure an Appointment With a Sponsorship Prospect

sales strategy, Corporate Support

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You’ve completed your research and believe you are looking at a company that is fairly likely to be interested in a public media sponsorship at this time.

What do you say when you call for an appointment? 

Your goal is to create immediate interest for further discussion. Engage the prospect. It is that simple. Don’t try to sell them over the phone. Sales research has shown that you have between 10 and 30 seconds of attention span with which to earn the right to advance your call. This means you have to maximize the impact of every word. 

Use your hard-won prospecting and researching. It is critical that the person on the other end of the phone know you have given some thought to why a public media sponsorship could help his or her company. Don’t use a canned speech! This is the opportunity to differentiate yourself by showing that you have an idea of the issues they are facing. Instead of saying, “This is so and so from WXYZ, would it be possible to meet with you to talk about how public radio and our online and digital media could help your business?” You should focus on specific business issues they might be facing

The basic components of your opening statement should contain:

  • Who you are and where you’re from
  • A question or statement to demonstrate that you have done your homework and to engage the prospect
  • In very simple terms, how public radio and its digital media offer differentiated benefits to the client
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The Corporate Support Proposal That Most Often Leads to 'Yes'

sales strategy, Corporate Support, prospecting

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Corporate support proposals are often thought of as a key part of the selling process. In fact, they are part of the implementation process. Your sales efforts will include the conversations you have with a prospect to understand what they want to achieve with a sponsorship, and how they are currently marketing to meet those goals. 

The proposal is what comes next. It’s a written statement of the conceptual agreement you’ve already gained in your needs analysis with your prospect. When a proposal is done well, it’s easy to get to ‘yes.’

Before All Else: The Needs Analysis

If you have not reached a conceptual agreement and understanding with the client before presenting a proposal, your written document is unlikely to meet your client’s needs and may waste both of your time. A well-conducted needs analysis and meeting of the minds with your client before you write your proposal is the critical foundation for any proposal.

What Your Proposal Should Accomplish

The purpose of a proposal is to:

  • Demonstrate that you have listened to your client, understand what they need and how they are marketing, and feel confident about what you can provide.
  • Reaffirm the conceptual agreement and understanding already gained from prior meetings/conversations.
  • Explain the options you have and how you can help the client reach their stated goals.
  • Clearly state the sponsorship investment you’re inviting the client to make.
  • Formally sign off and launch the partnership.

Additionally, your proposal can serve as a persuasive document that can be shared with others who have not been part of the decision-making process.

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