Run Better Promotion Meetings

I’ve had promotion meetings that last three hours. I’ve had sales people crying in promotion meetings. I’ve seen a sales person leave a promotion meeting with an idea so good, she made $75,000 with it less than two weeks later.
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Get the Most Out of Your Radio Station’s Promotional Meetings

I’ve had promotion meetings that last three hours. I’ve had sales people crying in promotion meetings. I’ve seen a sales person leave a promotion meeting with an idea so good, she made $75,000 with it less than two weeks later.

Seen it all

I’ve seen marketing directors decide not to have the meetings at all, thinking they can solve sales and programming matters by themselves.

Stick around marketing and promotions long enough and you too will see it all.

Unfortunately, what you’ll rarely see are promotion meetings that are run well.

Have you stopped lately to consider how many hours a week you spend in meetings? If you’re like most radio managers today, you spend at least five hours a week in meetings.

At least once a year, invest in a few focused minutes to determine whether or not all those meetings are productive – and if not, how you might convince your immediate superior to allow you to use your time more effectively.

Of all the meetings you may consider cutting, I highly recommend that you not cut your promotion meeting.

Why? If done properly, a promotion meeting gives your sales force the ability to represent their clients and gives you – as a marketing, promotion or program director – the opportunity to use those same clients to tremendous benefit to provide prizes and other resources for your listeners.

Most people dread promotion meetings because they are neither well-organized nor well-conducted and take longer than they should.

Here are some proven methods that’ll help you turn that weekly nightmare into a fun, productive time.

Best time

All promotion meetings should be in the morning when people are energized. And you won’t have account executives begging off late in the day when they need to be calling on accounts.

Contract with all parties for one hour. I use the word "contract" intentionally. Everybody needs to know that you’re committed to getting out of the room in one hour and that every minute is of value. This will help to curtail those who have a tendency to dominate the ticking clock week after week. The peer pressure of being concise is a powerful weapon.

How can you possibly do a promotion meeting in one hour? Either the marketing or promotion director has pre-meetings with all sales people who will attend.

While this may sound redundant, it isn’t. The pre-meeting is for brainstorming initial concepts for clients and is scheduled at the convenience of the account exec and promotion director.

The actual promotion meeting is the AE’s time to present the selected pre-meeting concepts to the other managers in attendance: the program director, marketing director, general sales manager and, in some cases, the general manager.

Structured

Either the marketing or promotion director must control the flow of the meeting. This requires action, a firm demeanor and a strict awareness of the passing of time.

The meeting leader knows from the pre-meetings (and weekly sign-up sheet) how many sales reps will be attending. She should take that number and divide it into 50 minutes; this gives her a pretty good idea how much time can be allocated for each rep.

If all the ideas from the pre-meeting are shot down by those in attendance, guidance should be given to that sales person about what track the PD or market director would like him to pursue and then, if needed, that same AE and the promo director would bounce from office to office later in the day with a solution more suitable.

With all this action, how do you stay organized? Try just one form for each concept/client. At the bottom of the form, leave room for a signature sign-off of all the managers in attendance. The form is not valid until signed by all.

Although it’s tempting, don’t make copies until the form is completed and signed. Incomplete forms will always create problems.

Can’t do it all

Why shouldn’t a marketing director work all this out in private meetings with AEs? Because unless that marketing director is a genius and has absolute authority to deliver on promises made, a group meeting is vital.

I have worked at stations where the general sales manager represented all her account executives.

While this would seem to save time, it doesn’t. It simply isn’t possible week after week for the GSM to spend enough time with AEs to find out what their clients really want to accomplish.

And having the account executive represent the client is tricky enough. If you add another person to the mix, it’s like playing the game of telephone, in which the message can get very confused.

If you spend most of your time at these morning meetings discussing sales matters, when does the PD and promotion team concentrate on doing things just for listeners with little or no sales implication? Fair question.

This exchange is an ongoing daily discussion. If you feel you need a weekly meeting, someone – maybe everyone – in your structure isn’t thinking clearly about how important the marriage between promotion and programming has become.

After all, married couples who really communicate once a week rarely have successful relationships!

Finally, conclude each promotion meeting with a review of how things have gone at appearances during the last week. Talk about what went right and wrong and most importantly how things can be improved.

Now – I did mention the concept of fun. This is more of an attitude than anything else. If you can’t inject humor into your promotion meeting, think about people who manage to have fun working in other industries like insurance, law, accounting or construction.

I’ll bet none of these folks have ever had to brainstorm about how best to give away cars, concert tickets, trips and money – all the elements of glamour and luxury so eagerly perceived by client and listener alike.

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