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Interrogate the numbers


    About 10 years ago REM released a greatest hits album titled “Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage”. I have always been a fan of their music and that album title is a nice segue into what I’d like to share with you today.


    Along time ago I was working at hot little rock ‘n roll radio privately owned radio station. Our competition was the state-owned station that had been around a lot longer than our 12 years or so and they dominated the ratings. Well that was the view of our sales team and it had got the better of them.


    I looked at the ratings and said we’ve got 70% of the under 40’s market! That was huge and something we should have sung about loudly from the rooftops.  Not according to the sale manager. Her response was “We can’t sell that. We can only sell number one 10 plus”.


    I think my sanitized response was “bullshit”. However I was 20 something and while on the executive did not have the support of the manager to change the glass half empty view of the world by the all-important sales team. I was fortunate to be doing some post-graduate studying at a University and was big on segmentation at the time. It didn’t matter that I pointed out that our listeners had the disposable income to spend. They were in-fact a generation of spenders, a generation that desired for better things in life and therefore perfect for businesses wanting to sell more stuff.


    Fast forward to 2013 and the recent release of the first survey book of the year in the Auckland radio market where I live. After talking to a couple of sales people about how they viewed the results I can’t help but feel some people are still just looking at the numbers without giving enough thought to the nature and value of their listeners. Too much focus on a mass market rather than niche.


    The very best radio sales person I have ever met was Doug Gold. He’ll be well known to Talking Media Sales followers. I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing this but I was privy to the first ratings book that Doug threw into the market for the first More FM station in Wellington. They didn’t win the ratings but they probably won the sales race on a ratings point yield basis. Doug had the incredible ability to interrogate the numbers until he found something positive and a proposition he could sell to the market. It was pure genius.


    So look deeper at the numbers and find value, purchase intent, a proposition to sell. Sometimes the way people get sucked into believing the survey numbers at face value reminds me of the REM album as mentioned at the outset of this piece. Numbers mean nothing it’s the story you tell around those numbers that will help you win.

    Article that appeared on www.talkingmediasales. Written by Doug Watson. Sports Editor for one of New Zealand biggest radio sports network. Now a advertising agency owner and journalist.


1 comment
  • Mike Brunel Agreed Joel... self belief and confidence is what many sales people need, a little ratings knowledge gives them that. Of course so does results.