Networking for radio sales professionals from Grace Broadcast Sales.
I'd love your feedback on this piece, which recently appeared in my News Talk Edge newsletter...
It can be really difficult to spend your advertising money with a news/talk radio station. That’s my conclusion after a recent experience attempting to place a paid program on roughly 60 stations in markets of every size across the country.
Let me say at the outset that once I was able to speak to a salesperson, they were generally very professional. (We’ll get to the exceptions in a minute.) The real problem is tracking down a seller and/or finding basic information on the station’s website. Indeed, this is pretty much a website rant. If I was a radio salesperson, no matter where I worked, I would hate my station’s site.
Too many radio websites serve as an obstacle to potential advertisers. Contact information for the sales department seems almost purposely hidden. If I found a direct number for Sales in less than one minute and five clicks, I considered it a great site experience. It typically took more time and effort. Worst Web Experience: The many stations that don’t list any Sales contact information, but instead ask potential customers to fill out an email form with the promise that someone will get back to me. Really? Maybe these forms really do prompt a response. But they feel just like an Internet job application. You’re pretty sure it goes straight to a digital trashcan. I chose to end-run every one of those forms.
And that wasn’t always easy. Would you believe I had to get one Top 50 market station’s phone number from Switchboard.com? I went the corporate website to get the digits for two other stations. With God as my witness… If these stations list their office numbers on their websites, I could not find them.
Believe it or not, I even had trouble finding a coherent programming schedule on a few sites.
All of this leads me to believe there is a fundamental flaw in how most stations think about their websites. Too often they are cluttered and crammed with all sorts of news, information and other “content” designed to attract listeners and others. But I suspect an awful lot of people go to a radio station site for the same reason they go to any business’ website, whether it’s a car dealer, baseball team or restaurant: to get information about that business and its product. Does the station carry Michael Savage? Who can I ask about my reception problems? I wonder if I should advertise on the station? Such information is too often hidden away. Sure, local agency buyers know how to get what they need from the Sales department. But what about potential direct clients, or out of town prospects?
I think those groups, including Alpha Broadcasting that have established separate Sales websites are onto something.
Of course, I also hit some low-tech speed bumps in my quest to unload a pocket full of cash. There was the receptionist who admitted, “I’m probably sending you to the wrong person.” She did —twice. One station’s new phone system made it impossible to leave a message. Six stations in markets of all sizes, took at least two days to call me back. A large market GSM was needlessly harsh in dismissing my inquiry about paid programming. Another hung up on me when I asked a couple follow-up questions about his station’s brokered show policies. “The answer’s the answer,” he barked. “What more do you want?!”
I want it to be easy to do business with you.