How to Increase Morning Ratings

How to increase Morning ratings/Gary Begin Sound Advantage Media

1. Commit to a weekly planning/brainstorming meeting.
Everyone connected to the show from intern to PD should attend this meeting. Use 100% of the available creative brainpower at your station. At the meeting, everyone is responsible for bringing in multiple ideas from categories like: phone topics, personal stories, games, new features, guests/interviews, production piece (song parody, etc.), promotion, stunt idea, serial story line, web/viral content idea.

2. Make imaging the show a priority.
Imaging speeds up the process of familiarizing people with the show, for both new and established shows. Many people cume the radio station yet may not listen to the morning show. Make the promos a priority as opposed to being the last thing the show does before flying out the door. We can help you brainstorm ideas on how to best promote your show.

3. Asking is better than telling.
An effective way to start a difficult conversation with an employee or coworker is by asking a question. Often a personality or employee will know themselves when and even why something didn’t work. If you start with “That sucked!” or “Why did you do that?!” the person feels defensive immediately. By asking a question, like “How do you think that [break] went?” the person has the opportunity to learn from their mistake by taking responsibility. “I know. I hated that break.”
Then you can follow up with questions like “What can [we/you] do differently next time?” and the person is still with you in the conversation, not mentally on the phone with their therapist.

4. Create more anticipation for content by mastering the art of the tease.
When you pose a question that creates mystery — or what scientific studies call an information gap in the brain — it arouses people’s curiosity and they feel compelled to find the answer or the resolution. So the purpose of teasing is twofold: One: to retain listeners through each segment of the show. Two: to create a mystery or create an information gap that engages listeners emotionally. It breaks down to: mystery (the information gap) + resolution (fill information gap) = ratings (more listeners).
Raise a question (create mystery/set up an information gap) for every segment including every phone topic, show feature, guests and appearances by the show or individual players. Listeners will feel like they’re going to miss something if they aren’t listening.

There are two types of teasing:

#1) Vertical teasing is for content that is coming up later in that day’s show.

#2) Horizontal teasing is for content you’re doing at the same time on future days. You can be confident that most of the people listening at 7:45 am on Tuesday can listen at 7:45 am on another morning. Add a column to the show’s run sheet that includes a “coming up in the next couple of days”.

Horizontal sells should be longer and more exaggerated than vertical sells. It is not too much to spend three minutes selling something that is going to happen at the same time later in the week.

5. Take an improv class.
Improv sharpens listening skills, builds confidence, gets the creative juices flowing, teaches you how to build and expand the content and conversations, improves team rapport and bantering skills. Maybe most importantly, it stretches you and gives you practice being out of your comfort zone. The less guarded you are, the more your authentic personality can come through. And believe it or not, it helps not just talent, but also producers and even managers, to find their comedic voice and to loosen up.



Marketing & Sales Differences

Marketing & Sales Differences
Gary Begin/Sound Advantage Media

People often place Sales and Marketing together, even to the point that numerous sales jobs are now termed as “Marketing Directors”. This combination may seem like it would be beneficial because many managers fail to see a real variation between sales and marketing. Are they correct? How should your radio station(s) view sales and marketing?
Marketing is foundational – practical.

Build a house without a foundation; it holds no substance. Every structure, be it something in the physical world or in the conceptual world needs substance. Remember the 2000s dot com bubble? The problem wasn’t that there weren’t great ideas; the problem was that the great ideas had no substance. When they were released into the world many ideas simply collapsed because there was no substance. Marketing is the groundwork for a large sales approach. As such, marketing performs several key requirements:

• Define success. This may seem strange, success is making sales right? Wrong: success for sales is closing sales. Success for marketing is building your radio stations awareness.

How many times have you talked with someone that would have been a great customer for you only to realize they didn’t know you did what they needed? Without marketing, they never will. Word of mouth is great for small companies but only works for growth in severe cases. Defining your success means knowing how many people need to be reached to make a sale. Here is the formula

X Impressions are needed to make Y Contacts to get Z Visits = One Sale

• Provide consistency. I once worked with a radio station that had three different messages for the same sales package. Sales used whichever seemed to work, the company promoted on whichever one was the fad of the moment and the radio station eventually bankrupted. Their message was inconsistent; no one really knew what they were about, how they did it or how they could benefit a client.

Marketing “controls” what the brand is really saying: marketing manages the same message consistently. Message being the words, colors and designs. And before you get flippant that colors and design don’t matter – remember the human brain retains by communicating with several pathways. That is why you remember the words to a song from when you were twelve but have to use your phone for your appointments tomorrow.

• Explore the possibilities. The best analogy is marketing goes off in the forest hacking away areas that may or may not lead to something great. Once you’ve found a place, Sales comes in building a road to see if there is potential for growth followed by Service, which builds the city.

Marketing provides the guidance to know where to go into the forest of business by using educated, foundational analysis and research. This educated approach is why you need professionals, not uneducated people who are loyal but don’t know what else to do.

Sales is growth – responsive

Once you establish your marketing, with a nice marketing plan, then Sales moves in to begin dealing responsively with the results of the plan.

• Cultivate Relationships. It is a lot easier to fire a faceless corporation then it is to fire Bob who you know so well. Relationship building is the key to growing a diverse product/service offering. A sale is the face of the company. Don’t believe me? When was the last time you had a great experience in a retail store? Was it the company or the person you dealt with that made it great? For me, it has always been the person. Anytime someone goes above my expectations, I‘ll overlook other problems. So will your clients.

• Provide real-time feedback. Sales know a lot about what is going on in your market. They can determine where problems are going to be coming to inform management, and marketing. One of the greatest ways is to simply ask them to provide it. When I’ve sat in Sales team calls that are mostly brow beating sessions by management for not meeting numbers while discounting that Sales is providing essential information about changes in the marketplace; I immediately see the problem that no one wants the real-time feedback being provided. Sales see problems in the short-term, which is why marketing needs that information.

• Conclude business. The most important part is putting everything together for a prospect to move to becoming a client. Key to this is realizing a prospect’s needs in terms of the solutions offered, that means listening. Taking that information and blending it with the solutions a company offers. All these things happen because awareness was created, relationships were built; feedback was acted upon to lead to a strong client relationship.

Marketing comes first, Sales second and Service keeps the client. When the boundaries are set, expectations are established and people can be held responsible for their part in the company. When the lines get blurred, chaos reigns. No client ever likes chaos. Keep marketing and sales separate but working together as a team, allowing them to perform their jobs and empowering success with these straightforward concepts.


Portable People Meter

Portable People Meter
Gary Begin/Sound Advantage Media

The Portable People Meter (PPM) is a method to measure how many people are listening to specific radio stations at any given time. It measures not only traditional AM or FM radio stations, but digital broadcasts including HD Radio, Satellite Radio and Internet Radio Stations. The PPM is worn like a smartphone, and detects hidden audio tones within a station’s audio stream, logging every time it detects such a stream. Every person who wears a PPM device is called a “panelist” by Nielsen Audio, the American ratings research company who owns PPM.

PPM has been a game changer since its inception in 2007 by Arbitron (Now Nielsen). Top of mind creation is very important in PPM markets. Not for written recall (Diaries), but for today’s listener tune-in. You must be the first choice of your audience. PPM research has shown that different dayparts bring a different audience. You must oversimplify how people listen to each quarter hour, and then generate listener events which match the listener’s routine.

In both diary and PPM markets, your radio station must possess awareness, and listeners need to know your dial position. PPM data details where people actually tune-in, and how often they return to the station. People who tune in many times during the course of the day are being titled “heavy listeners.” Stations that are number one with heavy listeners are known as a base station. The difference between P1 and PPM is founded on opinions (thoughts) vs. facts (actions). P1 shows listener preference: “what is your favorite radio station?” PPM demonstrates listener behavior: “what radio station(s) do you actually listen to?”

In a PPM universe, listeners need to turn on your station ‘first.’ It’s up to you not to lose them. In an interesting sideline, even when your audience tunes you out, it doesn’t seem to be a problem, as long as they come back often enough. You’ll notice a smaller Time Spent Listening (TSL), compromising many different tune in moments. With PPM it’s about generating occasions (listener instances) to keep your audience coming back. Cume (referring to the total number of different persons who tune to a radio station during the course of a daypart for at least five minutes) is king in the PPM world. Teasing your audience can be accomplished on-air and off-air through social media outlets such as Twitter & Facebook.

While cume has doubled in PPM measurements, there are techniques that can be used to increase TSL and AQH (Average Quarter Hour). New listeners revealed by PPM show’s they are more casual, driving down TSL for individual stations. What you actually find is an increase in average quarter-hour.

There are reasons why individual stations have shown a decrease in TSL with PPM. Casual listeners don’t listen to the radio station as often. When their lower TSL is factored in, it reduces overall time spent-listening. PPM measurement also eliminates rounding that occurred in diary entries. Everyone who’s ever seen a diary has noticed a pattern where a listener would write down a start time and then draw an arrow through the day. PPM only records when a listener is exposed to the encoded signal.

The PPM reveals listeners listening to more stations. That means individual listener TSL to radio is spread thinner. There’s something else broadcasters will have to get used to; new terms for TSL. The new terms are “Average Time Exposed” (ATE) for daily TSL, and “Averaged Weekly Time Exposed” (AWTE) for weekly TSL.

The Portable People Meter solves problems that have plagued diary-based measurement for years. Diaries measure recall, biasing results toward top-of-mind stations. PPM measures actual exposure while capturing instances of listenership that diaries miss. Diaries are filled out by a much smaller percentage of respondents during any given week. PPM measures a complete sample (albeit small) every week. In theory, this should add stability to the results while allowing stations the ability to check ratings for specific one-time events.

Not all broadcasters are sold on the PPM technology. It’s been observed that tiny PPM panel changes produce wild fluctuations in ratings, raising questions about the veracity of the methodology and—unfairly—the effectiveness on an industry that all too often depends upon it.

PPM has taught Radio Programmers three important lesions:

1. Remove damaging content

Damaging or terrible content chases away listeners into the hands of your competitors that are offering a better product. Don’t do a bad interview at the wrong time. That’s a big tune-out!

2. Teasing is essential

When there’s an on-air event transition there’s a susceptibility, such as going from music to spots or even song to song. Apart from sound and well-testing content (such as playing favorite songs), teasing is essential to building and not losing your audience. Hold people to the party as long as possible. As a song ends, say what’s coming up. Think who has just joined your audience: use one line resets after a song or break to review and introduce the topic for them.

3. Create listener obsession

Prompt the listeners as to why they tuned-in: highlight your content, such as music, contests, news, benchmarks and personalities. Remind your audience how to use the station: construct a way that will make people listen longer right now (“Your chance to win concert tickets for Elton John coming up in ten minutes”).

Encourage listeners to tune in tomorrow or later in the week: creating future tune-in occasions (“Listen tomorrow morning at 7:20 for your next opportunity to win”).
Commercial stopsets will ‘recycle’ your audience. Commercials will in-fact, turn your listeners away. But by the end of the commercial break, a whole new group of users come back waiting for what’s next. If you give your listeners a reason to stay, they usually will if there’s some specific interesting program content after the ad break.

Train your audience that at the end of the spot break, there’s a great feature such as a Music City Minute they won’t want to miss. Or some other feature you come up with, depending upon your format. You’ll notice a kind of cycling through of listeners. PPM research offers great insight into the audience attention span. The analysis will guide you on how to lessen your commercial breaks during certain quarter hours.

How to Develop Your Personal Brand

How to Develop your Personal Brand
Gary Begin/Sound Advantage Media

Possessing a personal brand means showcasing your career accomplishments. If it helps, think of your career as one long brand campaign that will evolve over time but always has the goal of presenting you in the best possible light.

A brand is, in essence, a promise of a certain level of performance. Great brands have high expectations attached to them, and everything associated with a great brand reflects those expectations.

What do the things associated with you say about your personal brand? Seemingly small details add up to a big overall impression. Here are some ways to develop your personal brand.

1. Your written professional bio.
Less formal than a résumé, this document describes your professional value proposition (PVP). It tells readers what’s in it for them by letting them know how you benefit them. When they read the PVP, they’ll know why they should hire you because of your professional assets.

2. Your elevator speech.
This is the spoken version of your bio. Can you sum up and explain your PVP in 30 seconds or less? If not, practice, practice, and practice until you can. Give this real thought, because often it is the first impression you’ll make on potential employers.

3. Your self-description.
Can you sum up your PVP in just two to four words? Great brands can, and you should be able to do so, as well. Aim to intrigue listeners enough to want to know more about you. Saying “I’m a scientific accountant” is boring. Saying “I’m a numbers detective” is much better.

4. Your business card.
Even if you are not employed and are in the middle of a career change, you need a business card. You can get 500 cards online for little to no cost. Make sure your contact info is on the card and on the back, your brief self-description.

5. Your appearance.
Do you look professional during job interviews? Are you well groomed and dressed appropriately for the organization? It’s amazing how many job candidate sabotage themselves by ignoring these basics.

6. Your behavior.
Do you act professional during job interviews? Do you avoid chewing gum and interrupting the person speaking to you? Take a good look at how you behave. Your actions should always reinforce your PVP, not take away from it.

7. Your own domain name.
Find out whether your first name, middle initial, and last name can be strung together as the address for a website. Use a domain registrar like GoDaddy or Active-Domain to find out if it’s available. If yes, register it, or some variation of it. Free or low-cost services like Weebly and many others can aid you in building a professional looking website and host it. Make sure that website address is also on your business card.

8. Your social media profiles.
You want a business profile on LinkedIn. Then you want to assess your non-business-oriented profiles on other sites. If there is anything that might embarrass you if a current or potential employer finds it, do your best to clean it up. On Facebook, for example, you may want to unfriend connections that have posted dubious comments or other material. Whom are you following on Twitter? That says more about you than you may realize.

9. Your photo.
Make your headshot photo consistent across the Internet, including your personal website and your social media profiles. This photo is a professionally taken headshot of you alone, dressed in business attire and smiling.

10. Your voice.
Consider starting a blog. You can make it part of your personal website. Commit to posting at least once a week and choose intelligent observations or articles as the basis for your discussion. The point is to establish you as an expert on the Web that people in your industry or field find interesting enough to read regularly.

With regular attention and persistence, your personal brand will become known for quality and even innovation, making you a desirable job candidate or valued employee.

Radio Format Guide

Radio Format Guide
Gary Begin/Sound Advantage Media

Radio’s Most Popular Formats
1 Country 2037 17 Adult Hits 188
2 News/Talk 1359 18 Urban AC 165
3 Latin/Hispanic 721 19 Contemporary Christian 152
4 Oldies 720 20 R&B 135
5 Adult Contemporary 631 21 Modern Rock 123
6 Sports 553 22 Alternative Rock 122
7 CHR (Top 40) 474 23 Ethnic 109
8 Classic Rock 459 24 Jazz 77
9 Adult Standards 372 25 Pre-Teen 57
10 Hot AC 369 26 R&B Adult/Oldies 43
11 Religion (Teaching, Variety) 304 27 Variety 36
12 Rock 279 28 Gospel 30
13 Soft AC 262 29 Classical 24
14 Classic Hits 258 30 Easy Listening 19
15 Black Gospel 256 31 Modern AC 18
16 Southern Gospel 208 32 Other/Format Unavailable 9
Total Commercial Stations in Operation – 10569
Number of Stations on the Air Broadcasting in HD – 995
Number of Streaming Radio Stations – 3815

Explanation of Radio Formats

Active Rock The term often used for stations which play rock music designed to be played loudly, such as “hard rock”, “metal”, and “heavy metal”.
Adult Album Alternative
(AAA) A station which plays largely current music which tends to appeal more to adults than to teenagers. AAA playlists are much broader than the limited playlists of hit radio, and therefore depend on album tracks as well as on music released or designated as singles. Stylistically, such stations may play rock, folk-rock, country-rock, modern rock, blues, folk, and world music. Some publications refer to the adult-oriented rock music heard on AAA stations as “Progressive Rock”, not to be confused with the 70’s music of the same name.
Adult Alternative A station which plays current hits, whether single releases or popular album tracks, which tend to appeal to adults more than to teenagers. Playlists are drawn from rock, pop, country-rock, folk-rock and blues releases. There are no stations of this type in the New York area.
Adult Contemporary (AC) A station primarily playing popular and rock music released during the past fifteen or twenty years, designed for general listeners rather than for listeners actively interested in hearing current releases. The playlists of many AC stations will also include a limited selection of older material and current hits. See Lite AC, Hot AC, and Rock AC.
Album Oriented Rock
(AOR) This is a format so named as to distinguish itself from Top 40 stations of the past, which played primarily singles. AOR stations thrived between the late 60’s and the 80’s, during the heyday of FM Rock Radio. See Rock, Classic Rock.
Alternative Rock A station which plays rock music which is stylistically derivative of the Seattle grunge bands of the late 80’s, and to some extent, the punk/new wave artists of the late 70’s, rather than the “classic” rock artists of the 60’s and 70’s. These stations are aimed primarily at teenage audiences and feature mostly current single releases and popular album cuts. Since the Alternative Rock peak of the mid-90s, many alternative rock bands (and stations) have evolved in the direction of modern rock, or in some cases, hard rock. See Modern Rock.
Americana A station which plays mostly current country-rock, folk-rock, blues and American roots music which tends to appeal to adults more than to teenagers.
Classic Rock A station which plays rock music released during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. These stations recreate the sound of Album Oriented Rock stations of that period (although often with a much more limited playlist) and appeal mainly to adults rather than to teenagers. Some Classic Rock stations play a limited amount of current releases stylistically consistent with the station’s sound.
Contemporary Hit Radio
(CHR) A station which plays a significant amount of current popular music, whether singles or album cuts. As it is no longer unusual for a single to remain on the charts for 30-40 weeks or longer, “current” refers to music released within the last year. A more accurate description for “CHR” would be “Current Hit Radio”. This format is the descendent of the Top 40 stations popular from the 50’s through the 80’s.

Although some CHR stations base their playlists on surveys of local record sales or phone requests, most rely on published charts such as the Billboard Hot 100. As of December, 1998, the Billboard Hot 100 chart began to include popular album tracks not commercially released as singles, and began weighing a song`s airplay three times as heavily as a song`s sales. The Billboard Hot 100 chart is therefore a measure of which songs are being played on CHR stations which, in turn, base their playlists on Billboard`s Hot 100 chart.

Contemporary Hit Radio stations tend to concentrate on specific music styles, such as Rock or Urban, or a range of styles, such as Rock/Pop/Dance or R&B/Rap/Dance. Some CHR stations play a significant amount of hits released during the past ten or fifteen years, particularly if there are insufficient current hit releases which fall within the station’s stylistic range.
Country. Stations that play Contemporary Country, Mainstream Country, Classic Country or any mixture of the above. Due to the overall popularity of country (the number 1 listened to music in the United States), it’s not uncommon to see three or four country stations in a market.
Dance A station which plays music, whether or not current, produced primarily to be played for dancing. This type of music was originally known as Disco music. Stations which play mostly current Dance music are often referred to as “CHR-Rhythmic”, while stations which play Dance music of the past two decades are referred to as “Rhythmic AC”.
Ethnic/International Programs which feature music, whether traditional or popular, of a particular ethnic group, nation, or region, and are aimed at listeners from the featured group or place. Compare to World Music.
Hot Adult Contemporary
(Hot AC) A station which plays commercial popular and rock music released during the past fifteen or twenty years which is more lively than the music played on the average Adult Contemporary station, but is still designed to appeal to general listeners rather than listeners interested in hearing current releases.

Another definition of “Hot Adult Contemporary” used in the radio industry is an Adult Contemporary station which plays a significant amount of new rock/pop releases. There is no strict rule as to how much new material a station needs to play in order to be considered “CHR” rather than “Hot AC”.

To confuse matters further, you will often see an “Adult Contemporary” music chart, which tracks current songs which appeal to adults but are more pop-oriented than songs found on the “Adult Alternative” chart. Billboard Magazine also compiles an “Adult Top 40” Chart, which tracks rock singles and album cuts which appeal to an adult audience. This chart reflects airplay on rock-oriented CHR stations as well as the new release airplay component of Hot AC stations. See AC, Lite AC, and Rock AC
Lite Adult Contemporary
(Lite AC) A station playing particularly easy-going popular and rock music released during the past fifteen or twenty years designed to appeal to general listeners. This format is the descendent of the not-quite-extinct “Easy Listening” format of years past..
Modern Rock A station which plays mostly current rock music performed by artists which have become prominent during the past five to ten years. Stylistically, the music tends to fall between Rock and Alternative Rock. See Alternative Rock, Rock.
Music Formats Generally What a radio station’s music format sounds like is governed by four parameters: music style, music time period, music activity level, and music sophistication.

Music Style refers strictly to the type of music played, regardless of how the music is packaged for airplay.

Music Time Period refers to the time of the music’s release. “Current” music generally refers to music released within the last year, “Contemporary” music generally refers to music released within the past fifteen or twenty years, “Oldies” generally refers to music released between the mid-50’s and the mid-70’s, and “Nostalgia” refers to music released prior to the mid-50’s.

Music Activity Level is a measure of the music’s dynamic impact, ranging from soft & mellow to loud & hard-driving. Some names of music styles include built-in descriptions of the music’s activity level: “hard rock”, “smooth jazz”.

Music Sophistication is a reflection of whether the musical structure and lyrical content of the music played is simple or complex. Although difficult to quantify, this factor often determines the composition of a station’s audience. It is also reflected in the presentation of the station`s air staff.
Oldies A station which plays popular, rock ‘n roll, and rock music released during the “golden era of hit music”, roughly 1955-1975. The term “Oldies” is actually a misnomer; a more accurate name for this format would be “Golden Hits”, as music from the post-1975 period may qualify as “old” but will rarely qualify as “gold”. Across the country, the format of various Oldies stations vary, some playing 50’s and 60’s music, others 60’s, 70’s, and even 80`s music, 70’s music only, “rock oldies”, or r&b oldies. A format which became briefly popular in the 90`s was the “Jammin’ Oldies” format, which featured r&b oldies from the late 60’s and 70’s.
Personality Programs or formats which rely on the personalities of an on-air host or hosts to entertain listeners, often with humor, parody, satire, or commentary on current events. Personality programming may also include music, interviews, and other features.
Rock A station which plays mostly current rock music, whether single releases or album cuts. Due to the diversity within rock music today, the playlists of different rock stations will tend to fall within different stylistic ranges. See Modern Rock, Alternative Rock, Active Rock, Rock AC.
Rock AC A station which plays rock music released largely during the past fifteen or twenty years, designed for the general rock listener who is not actively interested in following current releases. These stations, sometimes known as “rock hits”, include some “classic rock” material and some current material in their playlists. Some of the “name” formats such as “Jack” include some pop material along with rock hits.
Smooth Jazz a station which plays easy-going popular music with a “jazzy” feel, designed to set a mood rather than to invite critical listening. “Smooth Jazz” is often set to a medium-tempo or “hip-hop” beat. This format is often referred to as New Adult Contemporary, or “NAC”.
Standards/Big Band A station which plays popular music recorded by the Big Bands of the late 30’s and ’40’s, music recorded by Big Band-era singers during the 40’s and ’50’s, and/or interpretations of the “standards” of that period, including recent interpretations. This format is primarily aimed at older adults and is sometimes referred to as “Adult Standards” or “Nostalgia” format. Some stations of this type will play any non-rock popular music of the past 60 years.
Talk A format or program which features one or more hosts discussing current events and other topics, often in the context of a particular political ideology. Talk programs frequently feature in-studio guests and calls from members of the public, representing varying degrees of expertise. Health, medical, and financial topics are especially popular.
Urban Stations or a program which plays music, such as rap, hip-hop, r&b, and soul, in the styles which are the descendants of rhythm & blues music of past decades. The mix favored by any given station depends in large part upon the age of the station’s audience. Many Urban stations which appeal to adults rather than to teenagers include soul/r&b hits dating back twenty years or longer, and are sometimes characterized as “Urban AC”.
World Music Programs which play music which evokes musical styles of one or more regions of the world, but is not necessarily performed by musicians from those regions or aimed solely at listeners from those regions. Compare Ethnic/International Music.
*Other Music Formats other popular music station formats include Jazz, Classical, and Spanish. In some parts of the country, there are sub-categories within these formats,


Radio Consultant-Station Management Relationship

Radio Consultant-Station Management Relationship
Gary Begin/Sound Advantage Media

When the discussion is on value and the radio station is convinced of the wisdom of a relationship with you, fees become academic. (It’s always amazed me that realtors, for example, casually accept a 6% standard commission, when no laws or regulations prohibit a higher commission in return for a higher level of service.) Here are some approaches to develop strong relationships that demonstrate value and result in much higher commitment from the client, and resultant higher consulting fees:

1. Find out what the radio station’s objectives are, personally and professionally. These elements are always intertwined in the sale or acquisition of a station or group. People think based on logic, but they act based on emotion. Find out what visceral needs the client holds dearest, and demonstrate how they will be met, safeguarded, or otherwise supported.

2. Suggest additional outcomes for the client. Every client I’ve ever met knows what he or she wants, but few know what they need. The difference between want and true need is you’re value-added. Once a prospect says, “I’ve never looked at it that way before,” you have a high quality relationship created.

3. Focus on output, not input. No one cares about your advertising or offices. People don’t buy drills because they love the tool; they buy because they need holes. Demonstrate important outcomes for the client, such as speed, promotions, higher ROI, increased ratings, branding opportunities and changeover management. The only real test is when the business changes hands on terms that are beneficial to me and meet or exceed my objectives.

4. Provide assurances and guarantees. Supply testimonials, endorsements and references that are tightly analogous to the particular prospect’s position. Allow others to sing your praises. Two people swearing that you were instrumental to their success beat’s a $1,000 brochure any day of the week.

5. Listen, listen, and listen. I’m buying a new car, and price is no object. Yet most of the sales people insist on delivering a pitch, telling me how to drive, or suggesting features that don’t interest me. You can’t learn while you’re talking. Develop some provocative questions and follow up questions, and keep the prospect talking until you have enough emotional and factual information to embrace them as partners. Don’t teach your sales people “closing techniques” or “features and benefits” spiels. Teach those questioning skills and relationship building techniques. This has been accomplished with sales people all over the country.

One more item: Everyone in your office from secretary to sales person to accountant has a role in client relationships. I’ve taken my business away from otherwise solid professionals whose office staff was rude, incompetent, or unfriendly. Clients want their phone calls returned promptly, and 24 hours is not prompt (my own standard is 90 minutes which I hit 99% of the time, and my clients are amazed).

Stop developing marketing campaigns and start developing relationships. Both the top line–sales–and the bottom line–margin– will improve dramatically, and it doesn’t get much better than that.


A Radio Ratings Point Has Never Purchased Anything

“A Radio Ratings Point Has Never Purchased Anything”
Gary Begin/Sound Advantage Media

We’re in the radio industry and we sell rating points.
Buyers and advertisers purchase rating points.

While this is the prevalence of our industry, it’s just a concept. An advertiser’s goal when spending money on radio is to increase sales. They are not purchasing rating points; they are acquiring living, breathing consumers.

This concept is paramount in a PPM world, where many markets are witnessing unprecedented rating compression. When five stations all have a 0.5 rating, many think the only way to differentiate your station from the competition is to reduce price. This negative auction has had a detrimental impact on our business and your station’s income.

Dropping rates to get the buy does not result in a healthy industry. We need to go back to selling the value of our listeners as consumers. When everyone has a 0.5, we need to make sure an advertiser understands why our 0.5 is more valuable (not cheaper) then the competition’s 0.5.

So how do we accomplish this?

Market the Value of Your Listeners

Not all listeners have the same spending power, or buy the same products and services. We need to get back to focusing on who the advertiser needs to reach and why your station is the right choice. Every good station understands the value of qualitative research. Whether it is Nielsen, The Media Audit, Retail Direct, or the Qualitative Diary, radio station sales people need to differentiate their listeners from the competition.

Qualitative tools bring to light that radio buys don’t deliver rating points, but deliver human beings who have a high propensity to buy the advertiser’s product or service.
When it comes to qualitative research, many radio station sales people focus on the standard socioeconomic categories. I urge you to dig deeper than that, and find the product usage categories that your listeners have a high probability to buy. Here is where your listeners’ value really comes into existence.

Sell the Relationship That These Listeners Have with Your Station

Average quarter hour is just one element of your station’s estimates as reported by Nielsen. Do your listeners have an emotional relationship with your station? Are your station’s listeners more passionate about your station than the stations tied with you on the ranker? Do you have higher time spent listening or higher first preference estimates than those around you? If so, document it – and not just with numbers, but also with the implication that your listeners love your station, and are very loyal. This fact means that, by advertising on your station, an advertiser can buy benevolence that they might not get from purchasing another station.