For the past 19 years I’ve made my living in the radio industry. Most of that time has been spent in the sports talk radio format, a format which I love and believe strongly in. I’ve been fortunate to be trusted by various companies to manage their brands, create the vision of their radio stations and make personnel decisions to elevate the brand’s ratings so I have a high opinion of what type of connection can be built in this format between talk show host’s and listening audiences.
For years I’ve listened to critics label this format as niche and take shots at whether or not sports talk radio could deliver real results for clients and it’s been frustrating to hear at times because I’ve personally witnessed many success stories. Conversely, sports television rarely has received the same venom or disrespect yet they target much of the same audience. While the numbers are certainly higher for television, the traits of the targeted consumer are no different.
I can personally recall running a promotion in San Francisco titled “Lucky Break” where we rewarded one undiscovered talent with a contract to work for the radio station for 1 year and while doing auditions, some contestants would weave in the words “reach us on the McDonald’s Text Line” without even being prompted to. That’s the type of connection this format delivers for advertisers better than any other.
When you look at the entertainment options available to people today, radio’s best chance to remain a priority is to offer content that is unique, people who stand out and brand associations that make your product cool. Fortunately for those of us who work in the format, sports talk radio possesses many of those ingredients.
This format also targets an attractive demographic (Men 25-54) and that’s important to advertisers because this audience has something they want – money! The bottom line is that we’re all in business to grow business while additionally looking to raise the profile of our brands in a positive light so when a company forms an association with a sports radio station, there is an unspoken value and image benefit that comes with it.
When you look at how radio has evolved, in many markets now, the personalities on sports radio stations are seen by the audience as local rock stars, much like the local music DJ’s were viewed on radio and television in the 1980’s.
While 20 years ago the local newspaper was your source for information and opinion, today you get your information from social media and popular websites and you learn what that information means by tuning into your local sports talk radio personalities. It’s the exact reason why newspapers started creating podcasts, video commentaries and even full-time sports talk on their websites.
In 2013 BIA/Kelsey conducted their annual study on which station’s delivered the highest revenue in the nation and of the top 10 performers, 4 had some form of sports marketing involved with their product. WFAN in NY was the lone full-time sports talker in in the group and the other 3 (WBBM, WGN and WCBS) carried the Yankees, Cubs and Bears respectively.
While one could suggest that the information in that study shows that the format has made progress, I could equally question why only 1 of the top 10 billing stations in the country was an all-sports station and why play-by-play is seen as attractive to clients yet the content created by personalities during the work week with audiences who are engaged in it isn’t viewed as important.
I was curious to get some insight on the challenges sports radio sellers face today and what they perceive as the format’s biggest advantages so I reached out to 5 different people who I respect in this industry to obtain their expertise.
In assembling this piece, I wanted to target 5 different markets and folks who have been involved in different organizations in order to illustrate some of the differences and similarities that exist in our industry. I think you’ll find the feedback provided by some of these great business leaders to be extremely helpful especially if you work on the programming side of the business.
- Paul Blake – Philadelphia – VP of Sales for Greater Media
- Jessica Webb – Phoenix – VP of Sales for Bonneville Arizona
- John Goforth – Chicago – Sports Sales Manager for 670 The Score
- Payton Raymond – San Francisco – Director of National Sales for Entercom
- Jim Heilman – Atlanta – Former Director of National Sales for 790 The Zone & GSM of WKNR Cleveland
Raymond: I believe the biggest misconception is how valuable the audience is. If you’re not a sports fan or listener to sports radio then there’s a big chance that you don’t see the marketing benefits of being associated with it. Sports fans are passionate and loyal supporters of the format. They always have an opinion and want to discuss the good and bad of their favorite teams. Listeners of sports talk also tend to have great qualitative profiles like employed full time, home ownership and college degrees. I believe that sports programming is not being measured properly by Nielsen and that puts us in a bad situation on paper when being evaluated by the agencies.
Webb: That it is super niche – all X’s and O’s. We refer to it as highly targeted, totally engaging (mostly) guy talk.
Blake: Agencies require ratings yet this format delivers results without needing to be a “top rated” station in the market.
Goforth: That our listeners are our callers. Agencies, and to a lesser degree, clients sometimes think of the sports talk listener as a 35 year old meatball who still lives at home and spends his disposable income on cheap beer and replica jerseys. The reality is that sports talk radio has the most affluent and most educated listener of any format in radio (according to Nielsen).
Heilman: That it’s limited to a very small audience. There are two places that people come to each week in mass regardless of the economy/weather/mood etc…Church and Sporting events. Everyone is a sports fan and the incomplete nature of the current audience measurement tools that exist today misconstrue the power of sports radio. While it is no doubt predominately a male audience, there are many female listeners. Also, I would argue that the audience is much larger and much more engaged than what is currently reflected in the ratings. Sports talk and play by play are the last remaining segment that people want to listen to or watch live, not record or DVR or passively participate with. A very underrated medium for sure!
How much do the ratings of your radio station impact your ability to continue driving rates and increasing your revenue?
Raymond: On a national level, ratings make or break a stations ability to drive revenue. In national sales there’s really no personal emotion unlike working with a local business who may love the format and its personalities and listen to it every day. Everything nationally must be justified with ratings and cost per points. There’s less focus on that locally.
Webb: This question fires me up like no other. I don’t believe that Nielsen gives fair and accurate credit to spoken word formats, not just Sports. That being said, our lives would definitely be easier with ratings. In spite of the lack of ratings, we will still post top 2 local and digital revenue in the market. But it’s a constant grind. There’s no easy money.
Blake: It can depend on competition. If you’re competing against another sports station then you need to be ahead of or within striking distance of that station. However, the ratings are not compared as much to music-based stations. It’s a great local direct results format.
Goforth: Minimally – rarely do you see a M25-54 avail come down from agencies, so as long as our ratings keep us in the agency fight, we’ll be fine. The direct conversation rarely involves ratings…it’s about results.
Heilman: Again it’s an old way to value and position. Create value propositions based on goals and objectives of the client and their target audience. Ratings to me are irrelevant. If a campaign meets my objectives (sales goals/drives in store/brand awareness) who gives a shit about the ratings…it works!
What type of importance do you place on having play by play on your station?
Raymond: Play by play (pxp) is all upside for national sales. It gives you an asset to incorporate into media sales pitches that no one else can offer. Would you like to be the sports station with no play-by-play going into a client meeting following your local competitor and their pitch of being associated with a popular local team? PXP brings more audience to the station and also gives an exclusive product offering to clients.
Webb: Very important. We love the brand association and our team partnerships. We carry MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL and NCAA football and basketball. It’s nice having that feather in your cap but it’s tough keeping sales people focused on selling all of it.
Blake: It’s great for branding but it also has to be a profitable venture.
Goforth: In my opinion, it’s the number one marketing tool we have. People tune in for the game on a Monday night and on Tuesday morning they’re listening to the station. Also, it’s great for credibility in the marketplace and client entertainment. From a revenue standpoint it helps with ancillary programming such as sponsorships of team-centric shows, play by play host appearances, and access to players, not to mention merchandising.
In your market, what is the split between local and national advertising? Do you see that split continuing in the future?
Raymond: National spot advertising is about 38% of the revenue in San Francisco which has remained consistent over the years.
Webb: National accounts for less than 10% of the billing in our building. I see it flat to down in the future.
Blake: 15% national and I don’t see that changing. It’s different by market though. For us we’re very close in proximity to NYC which is a factor.
Goforth: That’s an extremely tough question to answer as every company defines “national” differently. However, I think it’s fair to say that if “national” were an AE – they’d have the highest billing. As far as the future is concerned – I don’t know that I see it changing a ton (towards more national). Many clients enjoy the ideation and creativity that is spurred by having local reps.
How do you decide what your assets are worth? What do you do to make sure you’re receiving fair market value for them?
Raymond: Based on feedback and demand from advertisers. Our sales manager’s set the pricing for our assets.
Webb: All depends on the asset. Each situation is unique.
Blake: We continue to assess supply and demand of our assets and price accordingly per the needs of our clients.
Goforth: No matter where I’ve worked, the answer to this question doesn’t change. Assets are worth every penny a client will spend and nothing more. If something isn’t selling or gaining traction for whatever reason, the price either needs to lower or go away (this is assuming it’s being pitched enough and the value is being correctly demonstrated). Sometimes it’s best to punt on an idea so you don’t devalue the station. We sell a quickly expiring commodity and, like a hotel, once the day is gone…it’s gone. So sell it or move on.
Heilman: It’s driven by perceived value. It is what you make it. Often times stations and radio groups get too caught up in the numbers. It’s up to the station to create the hype and sizzle and position and develop the right program to make it valuable to the customer. If the customer does not value the idea or the station they will not pay for it.
When talking to advertisers what is the #1 thing they seek more of from your brand?
Raymond: Brand integration and ROI (return on investment). Advertisers not only want commercials but they want some sort of special integration into programming and play by play that will help drive ROI. Endorsements, features, ownership of assets are hot areas of ownership that can help accelerate sales and launches of brands. Digital programs would be a close 2nd.
Webb: Higher level association with our brand and on-air talent.
Blake: Engagement, custom ideas, great results.
Goforth: Passion – the passion of our listening audience helps sell their good or service. This comes from not only the passion for the teams, but for the hosts and the station as well. We’re originators of content. People can hear the latest Foster the People song anywhere – they can’t get their local guys’ reaction to the big win (or loss) ANYWHERE else.
Where do you see the sports radio format having its best opportunity to grow its business in the future?
Raymond: Unique programming, digital engagement and endorsements.
Webb: Continue to deliver amazing unique local content, hire sales people that are marketers not just sales people, and give them the internal support to succeed.
Blake: Much more of the same great things we already provide. This is an incredible results format.
Goforth: Digital – The digital space will account for 25% of all paid media spending this year and will be up another 15% from last year. The buzz words you hear in the digital space all relate to brand integration and content origination. We already do that! Sports radio just needs to continue to evolve and expand the conversation digitally – opening up opportunity and different revenue streams as we do so.
Heilman: Embracing technology and getting out of the 1970’s. The last ones to the web and the last ones to integrated programming. Be proactive and not reactive. There needs to be cooperation and coordination at the agency and client level as well. Create the demand don’t react to it!
To learn more information about some of the great brands that our 5 featured panelists are associated with, visit their stations websites below.
Barrett Sports Media To Launch Podcast Network
“We will start with a few new titles later this month, and add a few more in July.”
To run a successful digital content and consulting company in 2022 it’s vital to explore new ways to grow business. There are certain paths that produce a higher return on investment than others, but by being active in multiple spaces, a brand has a stronger chance of staying strong and overcoming challenges when the unexpected occurs. Case in point, the pandemic in 2020.
As much as I love programming and consulting stations to assist with growing their over the air and digital impact, I consider myself first a business owner and strategist. Some have even called me an entrepreneur, and that works too. Just don’t call me a consultant because that’s only half of what I do. I’ve spent a lot of my time building relationships, listening to content, and studying brands and markets to help folks grow their business. Included in my education has been studying website content selection, Google and social media analytics, newsletter data, the event business, and the needs of partners and how to best serve them. As the world of media continues to evolve, I consider it my responsibility to stay informed and ready to pivot whenever it’s deemed necessary. That’s how brands and individuals survive and thrive.
If you look at the world of media today compared to just a decade ago, a lot has changed. It’s no secret during that period that podcasting has enjoyed a surge. Whether you review Edison Research, Jacobs Media, Amplifi Media, Spotify or another group’s results, the story is always the same – digital audio is growing and it’s expected to continue doing so. And that isn’t just related to content. It applies to advertising too. Gordon Borrell, IAB and eMarketer all have done the research to show you where future dollars are expected to move. I still believe it’s smart, valuable and effective for advertisers to market their products on a radio station’s airwaves, but digital is a key piece of the brand buy these days, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon.
Which brings me to today’s announcement.
If you were in New York City in March for our 2022 BSM Summit, you received a program at the show. Inside of one of the pages was a small ad (same image used atop this article) which said “Coming This Summer…The BSM Podcast Network…Stay Tuned For Details.” I had a few people ask ‘when is that happening, and what shows are you planning to create?’ and I kept the answers vague because I didn’t want to box ourselves in. I’ve spent a few months talking to people about joining us to help continue producing quality written content and improve our social media. Included in that process has been talking to members of our team and others on the outside about future opportunities creating podcasts for the Barrett Sports Media brand.
After examining the pluses and minuses, and listening and talking to a number of people, I’m excited to share that we are launching the BSM Podcast Network. We will start with a few new titles later this month, and add a few more in July. Demetri Ravanos will provide oversight of content execution, and assist with production and guest booking needs for selected pods. This is why we’ve been frequently promoting Editor and Social Media jobs with the brand. It’s hard to pursue new opportunities if you don’t have the right support.
The titles that will make up our initial offerings are each different in terms of content, host and presentation. First, we have Media Noise with Demetri Ravanos, which has produced over 75 episodes over the past year and a half. That show will continue in its current form, being released each Friday. Next will be the arrival of The Sports Talkers Podcast with Stephen Strom which will debut on Thursday June 23rd, the day of the NBA Draft. After that, The Producer’s Podcast with Brady Farkas will premiere on Wednesday June 29th. Then as we move into July, two more titles will be added, starting with a new sales focused podcast Seller to Seller with Jeff Caves. The final title to be added to the rotation will be The Jason Barrett Podcast which yours truly will host. The goal is to have five weekly programs distributed through our website and across all podcasting platforms by mid to late July.
I am excited about the creation of each of these podcasts but this won’t be the last of what we do. We’re already working on additional titles for late summer or early fall to ramp up our production to ten weekly shows. Once a few ideas and discussions get flushed out, I’ll have more news to share with you. I may consider adding even more to the mix too at some point. If you have an idea that you think would resonate with media professionals and aspiring broadcasters, email me by clicking here.
One thing I want to point out, this network will focuses exclusively on various areas of the sports media industry. We’ll leave mainstream sports conversations to the rest of the media universe. That’s not a space I’m interested in pursuing. We’ve focused on a niche since arriving on the scene in 2015 and have no plans to waver from it now.
Additionally, you may have noticed that we now refer to our company as ‘Barrett Media’. That’s because we are now involved in both sports and news media. That said, we are branding this as the BSM Podcast Network because the titles and content are sports media related. Maybe there will be a day when we introduce a BNM version of this, but right now, we’ve got to make sure the first one works right before exploring new territory.
Our commitment to delivering original industry news, features and opinions in print form remains unchanged. This is simply an opportunity to grow in an area where we’ve been less active. I know education for industry folks and those interested in entering the business is important. It’s why young people all across the country absorb mountains of debt to receive a college education. As valuable as those campus experiences might be, it’s a different world once you enter the broadcasting business.
What I’d like to remind folks is that we continue to make investments in the way we cover, consult, and discuss the media industry because others invest in us. It’d be easy to stockpile funds and enjoy a few more vacations but I’m not worried about personal wealth. I’m focused on building a brand that does meaningful work by benefitting those who earn a living in the media industry or are interested in one day doing so. As part of that process I’m trying to connect our audience to partners who provide products, services or programs that can benefit them.
Since starting this brand, we’ve written more than 18,000 articles. We now cover two formats and produce more than twenty five pieces of content per day. The opportunity to play a small role in keeping media members and future broadcasters informed is rewarding but we could not pay people to edit, write, and host podcasts here if others didn’t support us. For that I’m extremely grateful to those who do business with us either as a consulting client, website advertiser, Summit partner or through a monthly or annual membership. The only way to get better is to learn from others, and if our access to information, knowledge, relationships and professional opinions helps others and their brands, then that makes what we do worthwhile.
Thanks as always for the continued support. We appreciate that you read our content each day, and hope to be able to earn some of your listenership in the future too.
5 Mistakes To Avoid When Pursuing Media Jobs
“Demetri Ravanos and I have easily done 50-60 calls, and it’s been eye opening to see how many mistakes get made during the hiring process.”
I recently appeared on a podcast, Monetize Media, to discuss the growth of Barrett Media. The conversation covered a lot of ground on business topics including finding your niche, knowing your audience and serving them the right content in the right locations, the evolution of the BSM Summit, and why consulting is a big part of our mix but can’t be the only thing we do.
Having spent nearly seven years growing this brand, I don’t claim to have all the answers. I just know what’s worked for us, and it starts with vision, hard work, consistency, and a willingness to adapt quickly. There are many areas we can be better in whether it’s social media, editing, SEO, sales, finding news, producing creative original content or adding more staff. Though there’s always work to be done and challenges to overcome, when you’re doing something you love and you’re motivated to wake up each day doing it, that to me is success.
But lately there’s one part of the job that I haven’t enjoyed – the hiring process. Fortunately in going through it, I was able to get to know Arky Shea. He’s a good guy, talented writer, and fan of the industry, and I’m thrilled to share that he’s joining us as BSM’s new night time editor. I’ll have a few other announcements to make later this month, but in the meantime, if you’re qualified to be an editor or social media manager, I’m still going through the process to add those two positions to our brand. You can learn more about both jobs by clicking here.
Working for an independent digital brand like ours is different from working for a corporation. You communicate directly with yours truly, and you work remotely on a personal computer, relying on your eyes, ears and the radio, television, and internet to find content. Because our work appears online, you have to enjoy writing, and understand and have a passion for the media industry, the brands who produce daily content, and the people who bring those brands to life. We receive a lot of interest from folks who see the words ‘sports’ and ‘news’ in our brand names and assume they’re going to cover games or political beats. They quickly discover that that’s not what we do nor are we interested in doing it.
If you follow us on social media, have visited our website or receive our newsletters, you’ve likely seen us promoting openings with the brand. I’ve even bought ads on Indeed, and been lucky enough to have a few industry folks share the posts on social. We’re in a good place and trying to make our product better, so to do that, we need more help. But over the past two months, Demetri Ravanos and I have easily done 50-60 calls, and it’s been eye opening to see how many mistakes get made during the hiring process.
Receiving applications from folks who don’t have a firm grasp of what we do is fine. That happens everywhere. Most of the time we weed those out. It’s no different than when a PD gets an application for a top 5 market hosting gig from a retail employee who’s never spoken on a microphone. The likelihood of that person being the right fit for a role without any experience of how to do the job is very slim. What’s been puzzling though is seeing how many folks reach out to express interest in opportunities, only to discover they’re not prepared, not informed or not even interested in the role they’ve applied for.
For instance, one applicant told me on a call ‘I’m not interested in your job but I knew getting you on the phone would be hard, and I figured this would help me introduce myself because I know I’m a great host, and I’d like you to put me on the radar with programmers for future jobs.’ I had another send a cover letter that was addressed to a different company and person, and a few more applied for FT work only to share that they can’t work FT, weren’t interested in the work that was described in the position, didn’t know anything about our brand but needed a gig, were looking for a confidence boost after losing a job or they didn’t have a computer and place to operate.
At first I thought this might be an exclusive issue only we were dealing with. After all, our brand and the work we do is different from what happens inside of a radio or TV station. In some cases, folks may have meant well and intended something differently than what came out. But after talking to a few programmers about some of these things during the past few weeks, I’ve been stunned to hear how many similar horror stories exist. One top programmer told me hiring now is much harder than it was just five years ago.
I was told stories of folks applying for a producer role at a station and declining an offer unless the PD added air time to the position. One person told a hiring manager they couldn’t afford not to hire them because their ratings were tanking. One PD was threatened for not hiring an interested candidate, and another received a resume intended for the competing radio station and boss. I even saw one social example last week of a guy telling a PD to call him because his brand was thin on supporting talent.
Those examples I just shared are bad ideas if you’re looking to work for someone who manages a respected brand. I realize everyone is different, and what clicks with one hiring manager may not with another, but if you have the skills to do a job, I think you’ll put yourself in a better position by avoiding these 5 mistakes below. If you’re looking for other ways to enhance your chances of landing an opportunity, I recommend you click here.
Educate Yourself Before Applying – take some time to read the job description, and make sure it aligns with your skillset and what you’re looking to do professionally before you apply. Review the company’s body of work and the people who work there. Do you think this is a place you’d enjoy being at? Does it look like a job that you’d gain personal and professional fulfillment from? Are you capable of satisfying the job requirements? Could it potentially put you on the path to greater opportunities? If most of those produce a yes, it’s likely a situation to consider.
Proofread Your Email or Cover Letter and Resume – If the first impression you give a hiring manager is that you can’t spell properly, and you address them and their brand by the wrong names, you’re telling them to expect more mistakes if they hire you. Being detail oriented is important in the media business. If this is your introduction to someone and they have a job you’re interested in, you owe it to yourself to go through your materials thoroughly before you press send. If you can have someone else put an extra set of eyes on your introduction to protect you from committing a major blunder even better.
Don’t Waste People’s Time – You’d be annoyed if a company put you through a 3-4 week process only to tell you they didn’t see you as a viable candidate right? Well, it works the other way too. If you’re not seriously interested in the job or you’re going into the process hoping to change the job description later, don’t apply. If the fit isn’t right or the financials don’t work, that’s OK. Express that. People appreciate transparency. Sometimes they may even call you back in the future when other openings become available. But if you think someone is going to help you after you wasted their time or lied to them, trust me, they won’t.
Don’t Talk Like An Expert About Things You Don’t Know – Do you know why a station’s ratings or revenue is down? Are you aware of the company’s goals and if folks on the inside are satisfied or upset? Is the hiring manager someone you know well enough to have a candid professional conversation with? If the answers are no, you’re not helping your case by talking about things you don’t have full knowledge of. You have no idea how the manager you’re talking to has been dealing with the challenges he or she is faced with so don’t pretend you do. Just because someone wrote an article about it and you read it doesn’t mean you’re informed.
Use Social Wisely – Being frustrated that you didn’t get a job is fine. Everyone goes through it. Asking your friends and followers for advice on social of how you could’ve made a better case for yourself is good. That shows you’re trying to learn from the process to be better at it next time. But taking to social to write a book report blasting the hiring manager, their brand, and/or their company over a move that didn’t benefit you just tells them they made the right move by not bringing you in. Chances are, they won’t be calling you in the future either.
Would Local Radio Benefit From Hosting An Annual Upfront?
How many times have you heard this sentence uttered at conferences or in one of the trades; radio has to do a better job of telling its story. Sounds reasonable enough right? After all, your brands and companies stand a better chance of being more consumed and invested in the more that others know about them.
But what specifically about your brand’s story matters to those listening or spending money on it? Which outlets are you supposed to share that news with to grow your listenership and advertising? And who is telling the story? Is it someone who works for your company and has a motive to advance a professional agenda, or someone who’s independent and may point out a few holes in your strategy, execution, and results?
As professionals working in the media business, we’re supposed to be experts in the field of communications. But are we? We’re good at relaying news when it makes us look good or highlights a competitor coming up short. How do we respond though when the story isn’t told the we want it to? Better yet, how many times do sports/news talk brands relay information that isn’t tied to quarterly ratings, revenue or a new contract being signed? We like to celebrate the numbers that matter to us and our teams, but we don’t spend much time thinking about if those numbers matter to the right groups – the audience and the advertisers.
Having covered the sports and news media business for the past seven years, and published nearly eighteen thousand pieces of content, you’d be stunned if you saw how many nuggets of information get sent to us from industry folks looking for publicity vs. having to chase people down for details or read things on social media or listen to or watch shows to promote relevant material. Spoiler alert, most of what we produce comes from digging. There are a handful of outlets and PR folks who are great, and five or six PD’s who do an excellent job consistently promoting news or cool things associated with their brands and people. Some talent are good too at sharing content or tips that our website may have an interest in.
Whether I give the green light to publish the material or not, I appreciate that folks look for ways to keep their brands and shows on everyone’s radar. Brand leaders and marketing directors should be battling daily in my opinion for recognition anywhere and everywhere it’s available. If nobody is talking about your brand then you have to give them a reason to.
I’m writing this column today because I just spent a day in New York City at the Disney Upfront, which was attended by a few thousand advertising professionals. Though I’d have preferred a greater focus on ESPN than what was offered, I understand that a company the size of Disney with so many rich content offerings is going to have to condense things or they’d literally need a full week of Upfronts to cover it all. They’re also trying to reach buyers and advertising professionals who have interests in more than just sports.
What stood out to me while I was in attendance was how much detail went into putting on a show to inform, entertain, and engage advertising professionals. Disney understands the value of telling its story to the right crowd, and they rolled out the heavy hitters for it. There was a strong mix of stars, executives, promotion of upcoming shows, breaking news about network deals, access to the people responsible for bringing advertising to life, and of course, free drinks. It was easy for everyone in the room to gain an understanding of the company’s culture, vision, success, and plans to capture more market share.
As I sat in my seat, I wondered ‘why doesn’t radio do this on a local level‘? I’m not talking about entertaining clients in a suite, having a business dinner for a small group of clients or inviting business owners and agency reps to the office for a rollout of forthcoming plans. I’m talking about creating an annual event that showcases the power of a cluster, the stars who are connected to the company’s various brands, unveiling new shows, promotions and deals, and using the event as a driver to attract more business.
Too often I see our industry rely on things that have worked in the past. We assume that if it worked before there’s no need to reinvent the wheel for the client. Sometimes that’s even true. Maybe the advertiser likes to keep things simple and communicate by phone, email or in-person lunch meetings. Maybe a creative powerpoint presentation is all you need to get them to say yes. If it’s working and you feel that’s the best way forward to close business, continue with that approach. There’s more than one way to reach the finish line.
But I believe that most people like being exposed to fresh ideas, and given a peak behind the curtain. The word ‘new’ excites people. Why do you think Apple introduces a new iPhone each year or two. We lose sight sometimes of how important our brands and people are to those not inside the walls of our offices. We forget that whether a client spends ten thousand or ten million dollars per year with our company, they still like to be entertained. When you allow business people to feel the excitement associated with your brand’s upcoming events, see the presentations on a screen, and hear from and interact with the stars involved in it, you make them feel more special. I think you stand a better chance of closing deals and building stronger relationships that way.
Given that many local clusters have relationships with hotels, theaters, teams, restaurants, etc. there’s no reason you can’t find a central location, and put together an advertiser appreciation day that makes partners feel valued. You don’t have to rent out Pier 36 like Disney or secure the field at a baseball stadium to make a strong impression. We show listeners they’re valued regularly by giving away tickets, cash, fan appreciation parties, etc. and guess what, it works! Yes there are expenses involved putting on events, and no manager wants to hear about spending money without feeling confident they’ll generate a return on investment. That said, taking calculated risks is essential to growing a business. Every day that goes by where you operate with a ‘relying on the past’ mindset, and refuse to invest in growth opportunities, is one that leaves open the door for others to make sure your future is less promising.
There are likely a few examples of groups doing a smaller scaled version of what I’m suggesting. If you’re doing this already, I’d love to hear about it. Hit me up through email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com. By and large though, I don’t see a lot of must-see, must-discuss events like this created that lead to a surplus of press, increased relationships, and most importantly, increased sales. Yet it can be done. Judging from some of the feedback I received yesterday talking to people in the room, it makes an impression, and it matters.
I don’t claim to know how many ad agency executives and buyers returned to the office from the Disney Upfront and reached out to sign new advertising deals with the company. What I am confident in is that Disney wouldn’t invest resources in creating this event nor would other national groups like NBC, FOX, CBS, WarnerMedia, etc. if they didn’t feel it was beneficial to their business. Rather than relying on ratings and revenue stories that serve our own interests, maybe we’d help ourselves more by allowing our partners and potential clients to experience what makes our brands special. It works with our listeners, and can work with advertisers too.