November 26, 2015

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07/24/06 Trying To Buy Radio

The names have been changed to protect the innocent. In fact, I won't use any names at all, to avoid anyone the embarrassment.

One of my friends, a business owner, asked my advice on advertising. Before I knew it, I had committed to developing his marketing plan and press strategy, as well as develop a media plan and do the buying. For the radio portion, I asked Chad, a very efficient young man on my staff, to contact radio stations, give them exact instructions on what we were exploring as a buy, and return the data to us within a seven days. We were buying one market only.

On the day of our request we heard from one station. Not only did they give us exactly what we requested, they sent along supporting data we had not requested that proved valuable. Their follow-up was pristine and professional. In fact, the rep from this station suggested that other stations in her company might be worth considering as well, and she made a compelling case. Another station within that company immediately followed up with the same professionalism. Then, to top it off, the sales manager phoned to make sure we had everything we needed. The staff at that company not only met our expectation, they exceeded it. Since they will not be embarrassed, I'll admit that this team was from Clear Channel. The reps' names (please don't call and steal them) were Justin Chimienti and Tania Hyatt. The sales manager was Paul Hoffman.

A week later, our deadline had passed. Though our instinct was only to consider those who responded, the client had asked us to consider certain stations, and we could not return without data from the others. We re-contacted the stations. Within a few days, two others responded. In both cases, they did not provide exactly what we had specified, and we had to contact them again to obtain the data we needed. One executive called Chad an uninformed fool and hung up. (This station had been our first choice.) The last station on the list never responded. In defense of these stations, it's clear that someone calling from my company is not a buying agency or a client, and we could have sounded inexperienced, but we did state that we were doing a buy as a favor for a local business. This could happen to any client.

I applaud the Clear Channel stations for their professionalism and the managers for properly training their staff. The others did not follow instructions, missed deadlines, and treated a potential client rudely. I shudder to think what would happen if a client had decided to do radio and had received these responses.

My dream (yes, I need to get out more) is that when clients are surveyed they say that radio people are the most professional, most prepared, and most helpful. Unfortunately, when I ask that question of advertisers, magazine people usually win over radio, newspaper, cable, and television. Let's change that. Let's exceed expectations, beat deadlines, give clients exactly what they request (I hear that complaint more than any other), under-promise, and over-deliver. These changes will make a world of difference in our success as an industry.

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