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Put Ads in Their Proper Place

Plan topics and shows that will generate the most revenue

At WSPL(AM) in Streator, Ill., the ‘Morning Show With Colin McIntyre’ is sponsored by Liberty Village of Streator and Metcalf Martin.

(Click to Enlarge)

How do you know when you haven’t created enough great assets for your sales department to monetize? When the general sales manager begins “suggesting” content for your radio station.

While there is a chance you’ll receive a few plausible gems from the GSM, program directors are in charge of content for a reason.

To prevent a series of potentially uncomfortable conversations, it helps to review sponsored assets on a regular basis in order to determine if a GSM is satisfied that she has all the tools she needs to generate revenue.

Here’s the special twist that is subtle and frequently overlooked by program directors: If a GSM doesn’t believe she can sell a feature, a show or anything else on your air, then it will not be sold. It doesn’t matter if said PD believes it’s an amazing asset perfect for sales; it’s the GSM who must have the perception that it can and will be sold for top dollar.

Let’s do a quick inventory check of items to be sponsored:

Say what? Your high-profile morning show doesn’t have a title sponsor? That doesn’t make sense to me. The one show you’re going to promote the most — with lots of promotional announcements wherein you can add a mention for the sponsor — should be sold!

If you can’t sell it for the year, sell it by the month. Twelve morning show sponsors may even make you more money than one annual sponsor. This asset is precious; don’t even think about giving it away as “added value.”

If you must have added value in the morning show, use the smaller features (and only when you can’t sell them for cash), like news, weather, sports, traffic reports and school closings.

What lifestyle short vignettes that your audience will love and your sponsors will appreciate can you record and air daily?

Topics to consider for nearly any station: Technology (think phone apps and the like), fashion, entertainment/concert listings, ski reports, fishing and tide reports, horoscopes, obits (don’t shake your head; in small towns especially, these are huge), travel, crime reports, birthday wishes and so many more.

Too often, these sound great but are not aired with enough frequency. Give up on the belief that a listener has his radio on for three hours at a time, and embrace the fact that frequency on the air is a good thing for all parties concerned — the advertiser, the listeners and you.

Is there anyone out there who hasn’t sold a studio to a sponsor yet? “Live from the Joe’s Carpet Cleaning Studios, it’s 97 Rock, Pound Ridge!”

Every time you conduct a contest, it can be sponsored. Be careful of adding a tag line in there with the name. Typically, a lot of information is being communicated. Long copy doesn’t work well with this element.

It may be old fashioned, but it takes a licking and keeps on delivering dollars: “The time is 8:20, brought to you by Joe’s Jewelers.”

No doubt during this sponsorship conversation, your discussion will naturally lead to which sales elements to affix to website, email, social media and SMS. We will address this topic in a “monetizing the Web” article next month; the basic platform being that your digital assets are not the place for added value.

Begin practicing this simple but powerful phrase: “Starting January 2014, we will stop giving away advertising of any kind, online or mobile. Instead, we will use these precious assets to generate money for our radio station.”

Join me next month as we talk trash to generate cash. See you then.

Mark Lapidus is president of Lapidus Media. Reach him at [email protected].