Warning: If you have responsibility of managing the station website and you think web sales is un-appealing, or just not worth the time and effort……you may not want the big boss to read this!
Can Radio get into the hyper-local, and online news business? That all depends if they run their online assets as a business, rather than a hobby. Can they move from old school tactics like mascots and remotes, to offering local business owners a portfolio of online solutions they are clamoring for?
Radio purists, Broadcast vets, Wall Street and even hardcore music geeks agree on one simple fact: without profit to pay the bills, there’s no programming excellence. So when it comes to the Radio station website and the hyper local opportunities it provides, why aren’t they run in the same financially disciplined way?
When a Radio GM wakes up each morning, what’s likely on their mind? What new Lady Gaga song should be added to the playlist? A morning show bit to post on the station site? While these play a role in the overall success of a station, it’s really not the stuff that keeps the GM up at night. Rather, it’s the sales and profitability issue that makes them toss and turn.
For Radio’s digital initiatives to dramatically drive more cash to the bottom line, they simply need to be operated under the same strict financial, programming and operational pressures of their on-air brethren. It’s really that simple, and there’s no two ways about it.
TIP #1: Web-training for upper management: Understanding new competition, compensation/hiring issues, rate card, forecasting/inventory yield management, overcoming common objections, managers lead by example (not from behind desk), leverage web to increase overall Radio share, take share from TV, Newspaper, and direct marketing budgets.
TIP #2: Beware of web sales trainers that haven’t sold web in years. Would you ever hire an overweight, personal trainer to get in shape? Are you following consultants that sound really smart, ‘wow’ you with gee-wiz technology and talk of ‘extending your brand’ online? Ask them to help you craft a pitch, overcome some objections and close a deal. See how they do with that one.
TIP #3: While research, analysis and classroom lecture is helpful, you need to put money on the books NOW. Be wary of those who will have you believe that expensive data & training will lead you to web profits. The smartest ideas & concepts are worthless, until they are successfully implemented in the field.
Internet business 101 for programming & marketing. When PD’s, DJ’s, marketing execs, & webmasters understand basic online sales models, they create more advertiser-friendly digital opportunities, while developing greater loyalty with listeners. Just as sellers are trained, these non-sales departments need to also be well-versed in digital media & online revenue models. Programming knows how we make money with on-air, now they need the same understanding of our online revenue strategy.
Let me tread here cautiously, since as a former on-air and programming guy, I understand that I could ruffle a few feathers with the following. There’s too much, inherent risk when programming and marketing departments have virtual free reign in managing the online effort. Understandably and with all due respect, sales and revenue isn’t the top priority at this point, for Radio’s creative crew. Their job is all about audience, and they execute on this with great skill. That being said……just as a GM wouldn’t allow DJ talent to pick their own music, or allow the PD to push all the stop sets till after midnight, the GM needs to ensure that business-focused web rules and standards are properly set and adhered to.
TIP: Provide non-sellers with relevant background and regular training in how local businesses are spending their web dollars, the emerging online competition to Radio, and what issues the station sales reps are encountering in the field.
Manage your online inventory like on-air Nobody sells your product & audience better than your own team. Like on-air, local and direct selling of web is preferred over allowing outside middlemen to re-sell or commoditize your unsold inventory.