Friday, December 12, 2008

Opportunity #4 - Sales Make Over

While there are a lot of opportunities for product rebirth in the past 3 pieces of this series I sense that seeking out new opportunities in sales may have the most potential. Having said that I'm not a sales department expert. Yes, I've worked with some talented sales people and managers and seen both success and disappointment. I've also been in on many a budget session as the sales leadership laid out their plans and reviewed that past year.

From my 'outside the box' perspective I see a lot of potential for the sales teams to really ramp it up and improve.
  1. Radio HAS reach: Just this past week Arbitron released their Radar report showing that Radio reaches 234 Million people 12+ and older in the average week. That's up from 232 last year. In the younger cells - teens radio reaches 90% and with 18-34s it's 92%. Can you find a web site (outside of Google - maybe) that reaches that many people? If you want to get your message or product in front of 92% of the population at a reasonable cost you just can't beat radio. More and more big products are figuring it out - Walmart has finally recognized it, Geico, a bunch more. Hershey recently admitted that it's strong 3rd quarter came from using radio more in their marketing. You see people jumping over web sites that have 100,000 people hitting them in a week - so what, when you compare that to radio its peashooter territory.
  2. Radio IS Local: For the retailers and services in your area Radio reaches them better than any other media.
  3. Radio is a bargain: When you look at the prices we have for the reach it can't be beat.
  4. Radio is proven: If we look at all the success radio has brought in the post WWII marketing period there's no doubt the media works.

These are just the top 4 reasons, but do the sales teams of today really understand these clear and simple advantages? Or are they caught up in endless data crunching for CPMs, rankings, and market shares? Are they watching other weaker and less reaching media walk in and steal away business with products and web gimmicks that are clearly not proven?

I often wonder if the sales teams of today know who the competition is? Do they understand Google Ad Words and how they are used? Do they see opportunities in spreading clients media to both the web site and the station? Do they know what the web metrics are and what are the most popular sites selling space in your area? I can remember the sales teams of the past having 3 day sessions on selling against the Yellow Pages or Newspapers in the 80s? Do we have anyone helping build the case for radio over the web today?

Radio could hold the KEY for many business' to getting out of this recession. Face it much of the problem we have with the economy is that the consumer is spooked. The crash of housing, credit/banking/investment, and the market damage from all that has everyone frozen. Discretionary income has just about dried up all over the country - if we don't need it we aren't going to buy it till we see some signs that the storm is over. It's going to take marketing for most of the business' to get the motor going again and we have great advantages with our huge reach, lower costs, quickness in creativity, and local market coverage.

Now is the time to train and build the sales troops for the opportunity ahead. The storm we are in will pass and it's a golden time for radio to come out roaring again. Hopefully we'll have enough creativity left on the product team, but we're also counting on having a sales team that's ready to play in the new world of media and marketing. If you're a manager or sales leader it can be your time to hit the weight room and train for the new season ahead - this could be your year. Great teams are made in the offseason and shine in the real season - this is clearly the off season.

It would help if our industry would ban together and really make the story for radio. Yes we have the Radio - It's On campaign. Forget the slogans - how about getting out the FACTS. Maybe a campaign in Advertising Age, maybe using the web ourselves to market ourselves. How about dropping all those HD radio spots (for the wasteland it is) and just spend the time and effort talking about radio and the power of it's audience? The RAB and the NAB need to step it up NOW. There's a lot more to do than hang around Washington and lobby.

Next week I'll conclude the Opportunities Ahead segment - looking forward to the holidays and hope your's are happy ones.

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