With a stagnant economy, advertisers are applying pressure to radio
stations to cut rates, offer better placement and drive better results. Ignore
these requests at your peril.
When your account execs relay client demands, provide them with
ammunition to assist with client retention. Fail to act, and one of your radio
competitors — or another medium — may provide solutions and win your clients
Dropping rates may be the most time-efficient tourniquet but it is
rarely your best choice for creating value for clients. Let’s explore other
ways to give clients more bang for their buck.
One surefire approach to better results is to ensure your clients are
airing effective creative. Account executives and sales managers too often
accept whatever a client delivers, whether proposed copy or finished production.
You don’t need a killer creative services director in-house; it’s never
been easier to outsource spot creative to experienced specialists. Many small
production houses are being run by talented, formerly well-paid creative
services directors who lost jobs due to consolidation or downsizing in our
I am happy to recommend a few or ask others to do so. Before you sign
such a deal, ask for radio station and advertiser references and for links to
spots you can hear.
Step two in improving your client’s creative is more difficult but not
impossible: Read or play the finished product to a small sample of the intended
You can do this entirely online, if you like, by posting one or several
spots, then asking your recruited panel to write down what they remember from
You finally will have to admit something that, deep down, you know. Messages
often are not clearly communicated in many of your spots. Entertainment or
emotive factors also can make a significant difference.
After you’ve got your effective creative wrapped up, make sure you are
scheduling spots properly with high frequency over shorter spans of days. Rather
than airing 50 spots over 10 days, run all of them over five days; this will most
certainly increase the recall needed to drive action.
Local celebrity endorsements for products, services and activities can
garner a higher level of attention for clients. Sure, there are talent fees
involved, but if you can provide a sought-after celeb to voice a spot and/or
show up at an event, clients often will jump at the chance. You’ll have to go
beyond your on-air pool of talent. Every city has highly recognizable athletes
or other glamorous personalities, many of whom are game to earn extra money and
enjoy the limelight.
Do you ever look at your logs to see where spots are placed in
stop-sets? Here’s a shocker: More listeners will hear the first commercial
played than the sixth one played in a stop-set.
This begs myriad questions. Are your clients getting a fair shake? Should
you occasionally stack the deck in somebody’s favor if a renewal based on
results is on the line? Do clients with the best creative deserve to go first?
Should you charge a premium for this position?
I’m not sure there are correct answers, but these questions sure can
create an interesting discussion at your next sales meeting.
Know your assets
You may have to play the “added value” game to keep clients happy.
Make an asset list for easy reference. Here’s a short one to get you
started: Sponsorship billboards for news, sports, traffic, concert updates and
other features; website section sponsorships mentioned on-air; banner ads;
pre-roll on video, contests on-air and online; Facebook and Twitter plugs or
endorsements; contextually embedded links from your site to a client site;
naming rights for your studio, van, morning show or events. (Send me more ideas
and I’ll share them with other readers.)
Although many clients may ask you to cut rates, your response must be
market-based. If competitors are holding rate and your sellout rate is fair,
there is no reason to acquiesce.
Instead, assure them you can make their investment provide a greater
return by utilizing several or all of the assets outlined above.
In some cases, it may be feasible for you to offer a few special clients
the opportunity to trade out a portion of their schedule for services or goods
that you really may be able utilize. For example, you may need to shred 10
years of documents and just happen to have a client who sells that service. You
then take part of their next schedule half cash/half trade.
While there is never a one-size-fits-all solution for clients, I can’t
help myself in delivering a mantra I learned from my first GM many moons ago: “Great
ratings solve many problems.”
Mark Lapidus is president of Lapidus
Media. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.