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January Sets the Tone for Your Team

Managers, this is the time to plan for a successful year

iStockphoto/dolphfyn “As January goes, so goes the rest of the year!”

This adage, long used by those who play the stock market, applies equally to our industry.

A well-thought-out plan, realistic projections and positive internal communication set you up for a successful first quarter, which makes the rest of the year so much more profitable and fun.

Don’t freak out if you’re not ready. We’ll keep that little secret to ourselves as long as you can quickly dedicate one full day to fast planning.

How to start? Every great plan begins with two things: lists and calendars.

The mission at hand is tactical. Due to the budgeting cycle, you no doubt already have ratings and revenue projections. Rather than guessing how you’re going to cross the finish line each quarter, the list we’re about to make will provide the necessary achievement structure.


Are your established characters (talent, hosts, DJs) ready to deliver an ongoing, easy-to-follow plot that revolves around relatable local events, issues and holidays?

List the events, activities and potential stunts that have a chance to spark emotional connections for each of them. Talk over the list with talent and then put them on the calendar. Sure, the dates and activities will change, but having placeholders helps push action.

Even talk, news and information stations — which rely on ever-changing topical subjects — benefit from a predictable framework as a foundation for being a reliable friend to listeners.

Can you come up with one event/activity/promotion that your entire staff can get behind once per quarter? If you devise these now, your sales department will actually have enough advance warning to solicit sponsorship dollars effectively.

Your sales achievers require positive reinforcement. They will also benefit from professional resources like those provided by the Radio Advertising Bureau (“Why Radio?”) to help them make their pitch. The above slide is a sample; find more at (Click to Enlarge)MARKETING

Shrinking marketing budgets, or no budget at all, makes planning all the more important.

How will you get the word out? Partnerships with local websites, content integration in social media and trade with television stations should all be considered and scheduled piece by piece now. It takes time to develop the relationships and plans for an annual marketing plan, so the sooner you can get to this, the better.

By the way, I hardly ever see radio stations being promoted in local pre-roll prior to watching online video and often wonder why more aren’t experimenting in this high-growth media opportunity.


Out of necessity, local sales managers are excelling in creating individual weekly goals for reps. We live in a brutally accountable time for revenue, and the streets are littered with ex-radio salespeople who could not meet the numbers.

More than ever, our sales achievers require positive reinforcement, which includes one-on-one time with mentoring managers who go on calls. They also need more education and regularly scheduled motivational sessions.

This is where the planning comes into play.

Schedule time each month with every sales rep to go on calls. Then, three or four times a year at the least, make sure every sales person attends a motivational session with a sales cheerleader who can show them the path to success and happiness. Reinforcement coming from recognized motivational speakers has lasting impact.

What else can you do in January to set the right tone? Over-communicate plans with staff members.

Ask staffers for opinions about plans and alter course when suggestions warrant. When you ask for and then listen to feedback, the benefit comes in improving plans, plus you get buy-in and acknowledgement that you have team goals. 


January is also a great time to throw a smaller staff party. Assuming you had a huge December staff get-together, go for an intimate setting so people can actually interact with co-workers more easily. Instead of doing this by department, shake it up by having a mix at each location. Keep the party informal and push just one theme: It’s January and we’ve got an amazing year of possibilities ahead.

The author is president of Lapidus Media and a longtime contributor. Find more of his Promo Power column