The future of our business may be centered on how effectively radio markets its content to advertisers more than any other factor. It's noteworthy that the new Lonestar in Dallas (the former KZPS) is attempting bold new sales marketing architecture. Guess what? Its success will ride almost entirely on the sales reps at that station. For many of you reading this blog, that's a scary thought.
We have a client PD who runs a little pool every time a new salesperson is hired in the cluster. When the fledgling new rep gets toured around the building, bettors can choose 30, 60, 90, and 120 day options to predict their mortality at the operation. Yes, it's sick. But it's also rooted heavily in experience. Radio has always struggled with finding, training, and motivating great account execs. But it's more difficult now that the medium is no longer hot with most teens and college students.
A trip to any broadcast/media class bears this out. Few want to pursue radio as a career in the first place. And of that group, there's rarely any serious interest in the sales end of the equation. While that may be counter-intuitive given that most general managers still come out of the cubicles, try to make that case to a 22 year-old college graduate.
So, we see radio resorting to some pretty desperate and lame attempts to stock the bullpen. Sometimes, it's "Job Fairs." Other times, it's actually running ads on the stations themselves, hoping that a few warm bodies emerge. And then there's the angle of enticing engaging waiters and waitresses to mold their attractive personalities to our rate cards.
That's why Detroit-based Rock Financial's newest promotion - a reality TV-type contest to find top sales leaders - is compelling and worth noting. The parent company, Quicken Loans, has forged a reputation for being a great employer. That's not an easy task for a mortgage company, but Quicken Loans has invested heavily in innovative sales training.
A visit to their contest website - www.areyouup.com - spells it all out. Prizes for the winning sales monsters include a 2-year car lease, a Harley, and vacations. When you check out the site, you'll see that "Are You Up" also has a series of sponsors, too. It's being run just like a great radio promotion. Except it's not radio.
Coming from a programming guy like me, that's a statement I believe in. I've seen too many great projects, promotions, ideas, and even formats scuttled by sales reps who didn't get it or who simply weren't qualified to market them. And moving forward, radio is going to need bright, motivated sellers who can communicate the benefits of podcasts, texting, streaming, webcams, and all the other wonderful offerings the programming can create.
If we are serious about "following the money," we're going to need to upgrade our marketing professionalism and focus.