Successful Local Broadcast Sales

 Successful Local Broadcast Sales

Author: Paul Weyland
Pub Date: September 2007
Print Edition: $14.95
Print ISBN: 9780814431627
Page Count: 240
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814409800

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Since you’re reading this book, I’m assuming that you are a

media salesperson or you’re thinking about becoming one.

Perhaps you are a student considering broadcast sales as a

career. Congratulations! Media sales can be an exciting and glamorous

career if you know what you’re doing. You get to hobnob with

big shots and entertainment stars, and you may drive big, fancy

cars. You could have access to the best tickets in town to everything

from sporting events to concerts. You’re invited to the best parties,

and you may travel to exotic places. You acquire skills that allow

you to work anywhere you’d like, even in foreign countries. You can

make as much money as any credentialed professional person,

including good doctors and lawyers, and you can do that without

an advanced degree. That is, if you know what you’re doing.

Unfortunately, there are many people in the media sales business

who don’t know what they’re doing. Life for many of them is

hard. Limited success turns to low self-esteem. Morale problems

lead to fewer client calls, which mean even fewer sales. Fewer sales

mean lower commissions and strained relationships with managers.

Eventually most of these account executives either quit or get fired.

Turnover rate in radio and television sales departments is

abysmally high and getting worse. Add that to other industry

concerns like a languishing broadcast stock market, the downward

trend in transactional (agency) business, declining market costs per

spot, increasing demands for “added value” (free advertising), and

an influx of new broadcast media competitors like iPOD, satellite

radio, TiVo, interactive cell phones, and the Internet, and you’d

wonder why anyone would really want to get involved in terrestrial

broadcast sales to begin with. I’ll tell you why. Because there is still

tremendous opportunity for those who know how to look for it and

harvest it. And that’s what this book is about.

For the better part of two decades, we’ve moved away from

building relationships with local direct business, instead focusing

more on developing relationships with advertising agencies. In the

process, we’ve sacrificed time and resources needed to properly

educate and close long-term local direct clients. Particularly in

medium and large markets, catering to media buyers and their

agencies became our primary task. Many of us have learned, however,

that our “friends” at the agencies can be fickle, stingy, and

overbearingly demanding with their budgets.

Lately, this realization has led radio and television stations to put

more emphasis back into building relationships with local direct

clients. This makes logical sense because satisfied local direct clients

offer less rate resistance and ask for less “added value.” We have

more control over local direct budgets than we do when we wrangle

with the agencies. We have more control over the local client’s

marketing and advertising plan, we have much more control over

the local client’s creative process, and there are fewer revisions and

cancellations than we experience with agencies.

In 1990 I received a letter from a former client who owned an

office products store. He said he’d just sold his business to a

national chain, and he just wanted to thank me for helping him

become a millionaire. I shook the envelope to see if he’d written me

a check, but there was no money, just the letter. That was okay. This

client had paid me very well every month for many years as had

many other business people who advertised on my station for

decades. Many of these business owners are not only clients but also

friends, who confide in me about every aspect of their business.

Unlike many of the new media, broadcast has a uniquely local

advantage that provides local businesses with the perfect marketing

and advertising vehicle for reaching out to local consumers.

Simply put, local businesses and local broadcast stations are made

for each other. Unfortunately there are two big problems keeping

local direct clients from spending more advertising dollars with

broadcast stations. The first problem is the client’s perception that

broadcast advertising is confusing, complicated, and a crapshoot.

The second problem with local direct business is ourselves. Let me


I think you’ll agree that right or wrong, perception means everything.

Many local clients are skeptical about broadcast advertising

because they “tried us once and it didn’t work,” so naturally they

think spending money with us is a crapshoot instead of a good, calculated

risk. Clients are in the business of taking calculated risks,

but understandably they do not like gambling with their hardearned

dollars, especially when they don’t fully understand the

rules. And the rules for using radio and television seem incredibly

complicated to many business owners.

What is reach? What is frequency? What is average quarter hour?

What are gross rating points? Why are rate cards so complicated?

How much should broadcast advertising really cost? Why pay rate

card when the next month the same station presents a special package

at one-third the normal cost? How can virtually every station

claim to be number one? Why does the client have his third representative

from the same station in a year and a half? Clearly many

clients feel comfortable investing with the newspaper or the Yellow

Pages, and they are skeptical about broadcast, which leads us to the

second reason we don’t have more local direct business on our stations.

And we are that problem.

Instead of making broadcast advertising look easy and logical,

we have tried to sell with computer-generated proposals infested

with terms and calculations that many of us in broadcasting don’t

even fully understand. Why do we inflict these complicated proposals

on local clients? Why do we make broadcast advertising

seem so confusing and complicated? Could the reason be because

most of us don’t know what we’re doing because we got into broadcast

sales completely by mistake? The answer is yes.

Nearly every single broadcast account executive I’ve ever met

also got into the business by mistake. When you were 15 years old,

I would doubt that you ever said, “When I grow up I want to be a

salesperson at a radio or television station.” Think about the bizarre,

meandering path that your life had to take to get you into this business.

I have. When I was 15, I wanted to be a drummer in a rock

band. When that didn’t work out, I wanted to be a disc jockey at a

radio station. While working on-air, I became aware of the salespeople

at the station. They seemed to come and go as they pleased.

They dressed well, and they drove expensive cars. They went to lots

of parties. I thought, “That’s what I want to do.” So I lobbied the

general manager into letting me sell. I had to sell local direct

because some of the people who worked at our station had been

there for forty years, and they had all of the agency business locked

up. I had no idea what I was doing at first and made every conceivable

mistake. I wince now when I think of the early clients I

would have served better had I known more about what I was doing

with their money.

I, like you in all probability, entered into this business with very

little or no experience in marketing and branding, no experience in

the difference between good and bad advertising, and no experience

in managing a business owner’s expectations about results in an

advertising campaign. Because I really didn’t know anything my

first year, I am certain that a lot of my early clients perceived me as

a pest rather than a resource. When you combine a client’s skepticism

about radio and television advertising with media sales reps

who don’t know what they’re doing, you wind up with a train


Even seasoned veterans in this business still don’t really have a

clue when it comes to properly educating local direct clients about

the benefits of broadcast advertising. Many of us still don’t know

how to explain modern marketing and branding to clients in language

they understand. We know as little about the creative process

as the client does. Once the client determines that her sales rep is

ignorant about how to make a good commercial, the “tail starts wagging

the dog.” The client, also ignorant about the difference between

good and bad advertising, ends up telling us what needs to go into

the commercial. And when the commercial doesn’t work, who does

the client blame? Your station, of course.

Speaking of the tail wagging the dog, let’s discuss budgets. If, in

the client’s mind, he feels that working with us is more of a gamble

than a good, calculated risk, why wouldn’t he hold back on how

much he spends with us? Why risk a lot when it doesn’t look like the

odds are clearly in his favor? Thin schedules combined with bad

spots add up to a disastrous campaign. Add to that nasty formula the

fact that most of us have no way of teaching clients how to calculate

return on investment when they advertise with us. Consequently, the

client may have unreal expectations about broadcast advertising

results. And when those unreal expectations don’t work out, the

client cancels. And again, who does he blame? Your station.

By failing to contact, educate, and service direct clients properly,

we are doing our local businesses a tremendous disservice as they

are now in the fight for their lives against big box-store national

competitors. All over the nation (and the world) consumers are

drawn to rows of big, shiny, and flourishing national discount stores

while local businesses are dying. The individuality of a local business

has been lost in the bigger is better box-store craze. A shopping

center in Austin looks like one in Indianapolis, or Portland, or

Phoenix. Downtowns once populated with local retailers look like

ghost towns. The national chains took away their customers. And

with the customers went the money.

Surviving local businesses believe that in order to compete, they

must match or beat the prices of the national chains. You see the

evidence in local newspapers, Yellow Pages, and to a smaller degree

on radio and television stations. “We’ll match or beat any competitor’s

advertised price.” “Buy one pair and the second pair is free.”

“Save 30 to 50 percent today only.” Without even being asked, these

local businesses are voluntarily giving away a huge percentage of

profit in order to attract a few customers away from the national

competitor. How long can this war last?

The price war is not a war that the local businesses can ultimately

win. These businesses must have good marketing and advertising

expertise or face extinction. They are quaking in the shadow

of Darth Vader, and they need our help. The problem is, they don’t

recognize the help we could give them because we’re not doing a

very good job explaining it to them. In this book you’ll learn innovative

ways to help local clients that don’t involve discounting their


Just because we got into the broadcast sales business by mistake

is no reason to be doing business by mistake. This book is the result

of decades of experience working with local direct clients. It is

designed to help instill good selling habits in new sellers and help

them avoid frustrating pitfalls that waste time and effort. It is also

designed to help experienced radio and television salespeople expedite

the long-term local direct selling process, regardless of your

geography, your market’s economy, your market size, your ratings

(or lack of them), your format, or your program.

The book is written in sections and covers virtually every aspect

of prospecting, educating, and closing long-term clients. The first

section deals with better ways to prospect for and then to get

appointments with decision makers. We also deal with the disease

of call reluctance and how to avoid it. I’ll show you how to explain

modern marketing and branding to a local direct client in language

that he or she will absolutely understand and relate to. This section

will include six very important concepts that you’ll want to learn

and include in every single local broadcast sales presentation that

you do.

The first concept covers why broadcast advertising is easy, not

difficult. We then go over a model of what a perfect business should

look like in a perfect world, but how most businesses illogically

spend the least amount of their time, money, and resources on the

side of the business involving advertising. We discuss the difficulty

that local businesses have competing with the thousands of other

commercial impressions that are inflicted on a client’s potential customer

every day and how to break through that clutter. We’ll cover

how to explain the importance of branding to a client and how

important that explanation becomes in selling the client on buying

your station on a long-term basis. We’ll also go over how consumers

really listen to and watch radio and television commercials and why

we’re not trying to reach everybody during a campaign on your station.

This concept will come in very handy as you work to manage

your client’s expectations about results on your station. It will also

contribute to your ability to close long-term business with little or

no rate resistance. Finally, in this section we’ll see how your station

is logical for the client regardless of whether you’re rated number

one or number twenty.

The second section deals primarily with the creative process.

Here you will learn how to write genius creative regardless of

whether you’re a creative genius. These creative concepts alone will

help you become a valuable resource in the client’s mind. You’ll

study logical creative secrets that most agencies aren’t even aware of

to make your client’s messages stand apart from the clutter. What

you’ll read in the creative section will also help you get more

appointments with clients who are wasting their money with other

advertising venues because you’ll be able to prove that their advertising

copy is inefficient and ineffective.

Then we will discuss how to help your clients calculate return

on investment on the advertising they buy. This process will help

you manage your client’s expectations about results on your station,

and it will be the final nail in your argument that advertising on

your station is a good calculated risk, not a crapshoot. Explaining

this ROI method to your clients will also help you to further establish

yourself as an essential resource to your client’s business.

Finally, we will cover the day-in day-out mechanics of the

broadcast selling process, including better ways to make proposals

and presentations. You will learn how to become a better negotiator,

how to answer objections to radio or television advertising, how

to overcome rate resistance, and how to close long-term local direct

contracts. You will learn how to super-serve your local clients and

how to handle collection problems. You will also find exercises at

the end of each chapter to help you think about ways to apply each

lesson to situations you encounter on a daily basis.

If you follow the advice presented in this book, you’ll no doubt

close more long-term local direct contracts. You will thrive in this

business. Your income will increase exponentially. You will become

an expert in identifying and solving customer problems, and you

will gain a reputation as a resource. Your clients will love you for

what you do for them. You will become as much a part of your

client’s lives as the other professional people they trust, like their

doctors, lawyers, stock brokers, insurance agents, and tax consultants.

The one thing this book cannot do is change your personality or

monitor how you spend your work time. Broadcast sellers possess

various combinations of personality traits, but top billers generally

have two traits in common—a strong competitive nature and empathy

for others. The competitive nature fuels your drive to succeed.

Empathy is the catalyst you need to help clients by understanding

their unique situations and helping them identify and solve their


To succeed, you must be competitive, and you must be willing

to do the work. The most successful radio and television sellers

average about thirty active accounts on the air in a given month. In

order to get to that point, you must have long-term contracts. And

in order to sell the long-term contracts, you’ll have to get appointments

and make presentations. Think about all of the local businesses

in your signal coverage area that are not aware of who you

are, what you do, or how to get in touch with you. How can they

possibly do business with you or your station if they don’t even

know you exist? You must contact them because it is highly unlikely

that they will contact you.

If you spend your time wisely and use your head, your efforts

will pay off and you will be rewarded. If you’re not busy, then you

should be. There are so many clients out there who are not advertising

with us simply because they’re ignorant about how using

radio or television properly could positively and permanently

improve their businesses. And the only reason many of these businesses

are ignorant about us is because we’ve never contacted and

educated them properly. Or worse, they were contacted, but not by

a broadcast salesperson who knew what he or she was doing.

Being busy is important, but don’t confuse effort with production.

The best part about beating your head against the wall is it

feels so good when you stop. Too many of us waste time with

spoiled, rate-contentious clients who won’t buy us no matter how

hard we try. Or, we find ourselves slipping into the rut of spending

too much time in the office creating computer-generated proposals

that nobody will ever read, instead of getting out on the street and

properly educating clients in language they understand.

This book was written so that it is easy to read and easy to

understand. The concepts have been simplified on purpose. We’ve

tried the confusing and complicated way to communicate with

clients, and it doesn’t work very well. If you, as a media representative,

clearly understand the concepts of how you and your station

can help local businesses, then you’ll become an evangelist about

those concepts, and you’ll explain them to every local businessperson

you can find. As you explain them, you’ll be amazed at how the

client listens, asks intelligent questions, and takes good notes. Once

clients are on the same page you’re on, once you have clients who

realize that you are a resource who helps them identify and solve

marketing and advertising problems and not a pest like their other

media salespeople, you’ll have customers who will stick with you

for a long, long time.

Enjoy the book. Use it wisely and build a rock-solid career in a

really exciting business. Enjoy your position. Enjoy your time with

clients and together let’s put the show back into show business.

Good luck and good selling!

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