Today's guest blog is from our own Paul Jacobs, who stresses to radio that their sales models must change for them to be successful in the future.
I was at a family function a few months ago talking to a relative who owns a small fence-building business. He knew I'm in media, and had a few questions about advertising on the Internet. Knowing that he has only two employees, I immediately assumed that electronic media was out of the question. So I asked him what his annual budget was, and he said, "Well, I spend close to $50,000 a year in the Yellow Pages and it isn't working any more." He was searching for a place to put his money and had no clue where to put it.
Think about it - here's an extremely small business and he's got that kind of budget! Thinking as a radio sales guy, I started considering about how the industry could tap into a small business like his, and millions of similar businesses. Certainly not via the traditional "commercial" sales model, but this does open up the possibility for a completely new sales platform utilizing a station's web site and other digital activities.
I encourage everyone who has a financial stake in the future of the radio business to read it... Which means all of us.
Radio needs to get there as well, and quickly. We have the sales platform, and in some cases, the digital solutions. But do we have the right sales and marketing philosophy? Newspapers are turning to telemarketing to call all local businesses regardless of size to tap into this huge revenue stream. None of these clients might be huge, but if they each have the kind of budget my fence-building relative has, it adds up.
Of course, station web sites need to significantly evolve in order to provide these clients with the right selling environment. Somehow I don't see my relative sponsoring Rock Babes or a Concert Calender. Instead, radio needs to develop better sales pages on their sites, and microsites targeted at different lifegroups and interests. Check out www.Indymoms.com if you want an example of how a newspaper has set up a site that is generating a ton of revenue, but doesn't have any clear relationship with the paper.
Let's face it - radio can continue to hope that advertising agency budgets will bounce back, but there is no indication that is going to happen any time soon. We can hope that advertisers will have a change of heart and begin to allocate a greater share of dollars to radio, but that doesn't seem to be on the horizon. So we must... MUST... change our sales model. Now. There are dollars out there, but if we don't quickly and aggressively re-tool to where they are, then 2008 is going to look like the good old days.