November 29, 2015

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7/22/02 Is Churning Burning Radio?

I got a part-time job at a Radio station when I was barely 14 years old. I was extremely proud of myself, but Aunt Phyllis scolded me sharply for getting into Radio, “because those people just aren’t the kind that you should be around.” I never knew where she got that impression, but my guess is that she got it from the salespeople who called on her small business.

A major trend among sleazy stockbrokers during the past 20 years has been to call 400 business owners at random and tell 200 of them that the price of a certain, volatile stock is about to “skyrocket.” The remaining 200 are told to “sell it short, because it’s about to drop like a rock.” A couple weeks later, a follow-up call is made to the 200 who got the correct information and half of these are given yet another “hot tip” to buy a second volatile stock “that’s about to skyrocket.” The remaining 100, of course, are told to “sell it short, because it’s about to drop like a rock.” Another two weeks later, the 100 business owners that got good advice twice in a row are called a third and final time: “Hey, I’ve given you two freebies, just to show you what I can do. Now, are you ready to switch your account to me or not?” In the minds of these stockbrokers, burning 300 innocent business owners is a small price to pay for 100 “hot prospects.”

Would it surprise you to learn that more than a few of these stockbrokers used to sell Radio airtime packages? The general public sees telemarketers, car dealers and Radio salespeople as big-smiling, fast-talking, back-stabbing con men. But it’s not my purpose today to insult you or to bring your spirits down. I just want to help you better understand the negative reactions that you’re receiving from business owners you have cold-called. The thing to remember is that these business owners aren’t reacting to you or to anything that you have done. You’re just taking the bullet that was earned by a Radio short-timer who came in with empty promises, took their money and never returned. Why does Radio keep hiring these kinds of people?

Radio is not a sleazy business. Our sleaze problem stems from the fact that far too many managers are operating strictly “by the numbers” and with a very short time-horizon. New sales reps are expected to make miracles happen in 90 days or less. Those who don’t “hit their numbers” are tumbled out the door like sacks of rotten potatoes.

Put yourself in the shoes of an advertiser who hears for the ninth time: “Hi, I’m the new salesperson assigned to your account, and I have some ideas that I’d like to share with you to help you build your business.” CLICK. Advertisers have told me of having as many as 10 new reps call from a single station in a single year. Is it any wonder that these advertisers avoid using Radio and no longer take calls?

Industry statistics indicate that the average newspaper rep has been calling on his or her clients for more than five consecutive years. Although newspaper readership has been in decline for a number of years, they continue to get the lion’s share of local ad dollars.

Gee, I wonder why?

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