by Richard Risor

Forget about selling packages. If you have great ratings, you’re in the minority, because there are many more stations in your market that aren’t in the top five, and they manage to fill a pretty good sack ‘o cash without once mentioning their standing. Let’s talk about what really gets new business on the books. First I need to digress….

We spend a lot of time and money making sure that every song we play is “right” for our P1 or P2 listener. We have consultants don’t we? We have Program Directors who toil over music logs to get the right mix. Then there’s the talent we put on the air. We listen to dozens of air-checks to get the right person for the time-slot. Right?

So, here we have about 80% of the broadcast day carefully tuned to sound the way we think it should sound. We’ve spent a pant-load of cash to get it the way we want it. Everything is going our way and then, boom! We go to a stop set and what happens? We give away twelve to fifteen minutes/units an hour and don’t think twice about the quality of what’s going over the air. The product we sell should reflect the quality we require of every other element involved in the operation of our radio stations. When we get right down to it, our local commercials stink. Here’s the scenario:

 The Account Executive gets the order, jots down the copy points, and rushes back to the station. She writes the copy (did you hire her for her copy-writing abilities?…NO) and hands it to the jock who’s on twelve other spots that week. He lays it down over his favorite music bed that’s been used for a ladies resale shop, an auto repair business, and a bagel emporium; and you wonder why your client, who just bought a schedule with enough frequency and reach to pack his establishment, is wondering why he bought a three-month schedule. His spot just got lost in the shuffle with every other cookie-cutter attempt.

It doesn’t matter what station you represent. It doesn’t matter how much or how little the client spends on your station. Radio advertising will not work for him unless he and you realize that the most important part of his effort is good, solid creative…creative that grabs the listener and holds them within the first seven seconds of the spot.

The spot is most important. Take your time with your client’s commercial. Put their products and services in unusual situations. Make their spot stand out above everything else that’s running on your station. The spot will be what’s remembered. If you have a good spot, your client will remember. If you have a great spot, your listeners will tell him. If you have an outstanding spot…you have an outstanding client.

In sixteen years of selling radio, I’ve learned that starting a prospect call with, “How much money have you wasted on radio advertising?” brings down all their defenses.  Radio advertising doesn’t work. Admit it to your client at the beginning, then explain why, and you’ve extinguished every objection he could throw in your face. Talk about how record companies gruel for hours over what records will be a hit. Talk about how, when they find something they think will do well, the radio stations play it over and over. Tell them that you want to make a hit for them. Then talk about their spot. Your work is just beginning, but that’s the fun part. Suddenly, you’ve just stopped talking about money, investment, cost. Now you’re talking about the creative. Run their spot enough to make it a “Hit.” You’ll have a new customer and be working your way into the role of  “Marketing Consultant.”

Remember, the creative is the most important part of the process. Get the client talking about the spot. Make it exciting. Make it unusual. Make it work. Your most effective selling tool is a good spec spot. How many will you present this week?


  • The R.A.P. CD - October 2003

    Demo from interview subject, Mike Carta at Super Sweepers, Knoxville, TN; plus more promos, imaging and commercials from Jeffrey Hedquist, Hedquist...