Forums » Friday Polls

Friday Poll: Is Your Client Base Shrinking?

    • 1001 posts
    August 10, 2017 6:46 PM PDT

    There's no doubt that things are changing in the world of brick-and-mortar retail. Nationwide, more than 4000 stores have closed as of last month, according to Clark Howard.  CNN Money reports an even higher number, 5300 as of June of this year, adding that it's shaping up to be a record year for store closings. Meanwhile, Amazon continues to hire and grow, pursuing its quest to become Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company.

    How are these things playing out in your market and on your station? Is your customer base shrinking? And what are you doing to insure that your billing continues to grow, even if the retail pie is shrinking?

    Please post your replies in the comments below. 


    • 45 posts
    August 11, 2017 4:02 AM PDT

    We've been talking about this lately. We have two groups of clients - national advertisers froma ad agencies and our local and regional weekly customers. They are the bread and butter of our businesses.

    They see the value in radio and continue to support us as we drive business to them.

    An eye opener was a local car lot who the owners are turning the reigns over to younger people to start to operate the business for the future. They called in May and said, We've decided to cancel our advertising. After some objections, they explained that they were paying more on our station than any other station and felt they wanted to do something differently. So they were going to invest $10,000 on a metro tv station for the summer. I watched constantly because I was curious what they were going to be getting for that amount. I never saw one spot on tv but did happen to stumble on a 15 second ad that was linked at the bottom of a website. it featured the business's older owner on camera. Now - I have been askng this owner for years to do his own commercial and he always balked. They really have no idea how to advertise their business because they get one commercial they approve and run it for a year. I come in and say let's change your commercial and the process to do that takes months. I have begged them to do a weekly spot and change it up but they just let one spot run over time.

    My point is as the current generation moves to Florida or wherever and turns their businesss over to younger people - those businesses are going to go bankrupt or just be sold as the ADD generation moves on to something else.

    I have the oportunity to sell the land my stations are currently on for seven figures and the thought was to put that money back into a new modern building and a huge upgrade for the next generation who will own and operation my stations. However, looking at the economic landscape I just wonder if that's throwing away good money. If we invest in our community for the future, will there be any local businesses around to support us.

    Or will the local businesses go away in 10-20 years replaced by national business (who will not be supporting local radio or TV because they will only buy national ads) or online businesses, who will not be buying radio or TV anyway.

    So with the passing of JC Pennney and Sears and other stores - I get a little apprehensive about radio.

    LG just agreed to activate the FM chip on their phones and the headline reads that LG is going to allow last generations radio into new technology.

    I keep seeing all of these studies (largely by radio people) that says Radio is still relevent and that Radio is listened to by 90 percent of Americans -- but why doesn't that matter to businesess who need to advertise?  

    • 45 posts
    August 11, 2017 4:05 AM PDT

    And to the point of the younger generation, I'm currently watching a young person who has been put in charge with a local affiliate of a national hardware chain drive that business in the ground because they have no idea what they are doing. The person has listened to me for the most part but they make the most outlandish decisions and waste precious radio time driving their customers to their social media site that only has about 100 followers. Their social prescence isn't that great to be using your only advertising to get people to go there. They need to be selling their weekly sales on the radio spot and also mentioning their social media. Their sales are low and they wonder why and also wonder if radio is working. It's not working because you aren't giving people what they want - which is to know what's on sale that week. they don't have time or the inclination to go to the social site to find out what they need to hear in the radio spot. 

    • 3 posts
    August 11, 2017 8:00 AM PDT

    Rebecca, You're right on! I have preached this to everyone, it does not matter how great your website is or your facebook, if you don't tell people how to get there, it will be looked over. The consumer still needs to know how to get all the info. Business owner can tell that messagee to masses of our listeners through doing a consistant campagn with our station.

    Kevin Casey   

    • 64 posts
    August 11, 2017 9:32 AM PDT

    As long as there are businesses there will be the need to advertise. Some have said business will be Amazon and all other business will revolve around it. Even if that becomes true, businesses will advertise to be found among all that inventory.

    One thing I would like to encourage is thinking outside the box. How much has the 'commercial' changed in the past few decades? Let's explore how we have created a more effective means to sell product? Sure our hands are tied by our clients but there is room to 'grow the realm' of the commercial.

    We have done a great job learning how to get the advertising but has the same skill gone to the product we are selling.

    Have we shot ouselves in the foot along the way? Have we taught our audience the very source of income that sustains the radio station is evil? How does your station market commercials to it's listeners? Are you bragging about how you play fewer commercials, non-commercial hours, etc.? Are you not teaching the audience the commercial is to be despised and rejected? 

    Do you really customize, where you can, the client message with the nuances of the format? How much is the commercial an element of programming at your station, fine-tuned to be appealing to your listener? 

    Do we spend too much time thinking sales over the primary purpose of advertising: building top of mind awareness? A sale is always risky because only the people needing the product today will buy. How much emphasis is placed on utilizing other elements of the station to build client results. Movies sell product placement. That can of Dr. Pepper on a table during dialogue actually sells without degrading the content. Our minds need to go there.

    We know in sales we have to be better, perform better, be more creative and generally walk circles around everyone else after the same dollar. We really work on that but are we doing the same with the finished product we sold?

    • 61 posts
    August 11, 2017 10:10 AM PDT

    I read an article about 2 years ago that said, in 20 years, there will be no more stores.  As I watch more and more retailers, big and small, close every year, I tend to agree with that assessment.  

    • 45 posts
    August 11, 2017 2:24 PM PDT

    I know radio and TV will survive in some form. But it may be without a tower and transmitter and a traditional studio. Facebook is about to deal us another blow when they unveil their Facebook Audio which will allow ANYONE to broadcast audio on Facebook similar to Facebook Live. So any Tom, Dick or Harry will be able to do a show on Facebook. 

    That also means if a savy business owner understands technology he or she will be able to write, produce and broadcast their own ads on facebook and literally cut out radio altogether. This is already somewhat of a threat through You Tube, websites, Twitter, Facebook and a host of other things. 

    I agree Radio and TV need to "re-invent" themselves to not only put spots out there for businesses on the airwaves but also package that with audio and video online, etc. 

    Radio has already faced HD Radio which kind of fizzled. TV was forced into the HI-DEF world once and will soon be forced to upgrade to 4K and beyond. The TV industry is also on the edge of ATSC 3.0 broadcasting online along with and probably soon to replace over the air braodcasting. Radio can only be not far behind that. 

    We just need to keep plugging away and keep radio and tv local and avoid the traps of the national media and continue to make ourselves important and relevant. However, I'm not sure how long this can continue. Amazon isn't going to care about local advertising when they have the customers coming to their site regardless of advertising. They've got the American people by the toes and we're buying more and more from them. 



    • 1001 posts
    August 11, 2017 3:52 PM PDT

    Rebecca, I've enjoyed reading your thoughtful (and thought-provoking) comments today. Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts! I hadn't heard about Facebook Audio before now, but it does raise an interesting prospect. Sounds like something we'll all have to become familiar with in the near future.

    I can only speculate on the limitations of FB audio, primarily the need for visual engagement/controls at some point. Anything with a visual component is going to suffer somewhat in comparison with radio -- pure audio -- which frees one to do other things (driving comes to mind) without distracting from the message.

    But assuming that Facebook Audio becomes an issue, many advertisers - maybe most - will likely require some assistance to make sure they're communicating effectively through that channel. As a radio rep, I'd want to be in a position to advise him and make this a part of an overall audio advertising strategy. In other words, I'd try to position it as supplementary, not as competition.

    It'll be interesting to see how it shakes out, for sure.

    As to brick and mortar stores disappearing over the next decade or two - I suspect many will. But some categories won't. Because of online banking, the need for physical locations is not as great as it used to be. But restaurants, for example, and bars, tasting rooms, brew pubs, etc. They're pretty well immune to online competition. Furniture and appliance stores, bedding, large equipment -- the need to try various models before making a selection and so forth would suggest that they won't be disappearing anytime soon, even though they're certainly facing increased competition from online sources.

    It would be a good exercise for the sales department to review current advertisers and prospects one by one, filtering them through a template (how likely they are to be replaced by an online resource) and see what kind of prospect universe emerges.

    What do you think? What categories are likely to endure, and which are the most vulnerable to online competition?


    This post was edited by Rod Schwartz at August 11, 2017 3:55 PM PDT
    • 1169 posts
    August 11, 2017 5:38 PM PDT

    From Robert E. Lee on the RSC Facebook page: "Most of them are agency business, not local, but, yes, we are concerned about the possible disappearance of brick and mortar like Sears, JCPenney, and a couple of the fast casual chains. So, we just try to really super-serve the local accounts in the brick and mortar businesses."

    • 84 posts
    August 12, 2017 1:30 PM PDT

    I work and live at the other end of the state of Indiana from Rebecca White and I see the challenges that she mentions in all size markets.  Over the past 4 years, very little of my billing comes from retail stores, less than 20% of over a milllion dollars.  What has been making up that other 80%

    Service oriented companies that require humans.  

    Currently I work with 6 HVAC companies, a couple of doctors and lawyers.

    It's not that I have anything against retail stores, I love to shop local but also will use Amazon for stuff I can't find in town.

    I agree, that there are a lot of people taking over the advertising budgets who have no idea what works and in those cases I try and be a resource.  I will make recomendations with other mediums if it is appropiate along with what I can offer.

    Doesn't always work, but being a resource to help people be smart with their advertising dollars has proven to me that it works.

    Also, Always Be Prospecting.  Not just to sell, but to start relationships that can one day lead to sales.  

    The more people who know you and value you, the better your opportunities no matter what the marketplace does.

    • 1 posts
    August 14, 2017 6:07 AM PDT
    Actually it's growing!!

    You may remember an earlier a reticle about a 20 year old State University at Stony brook NY senior, Matthew Glaser who bought a commercial FM from Cumulus Media that's serves the home to the 'Rich and Famous' in New Yorks 'Hamptons'.

    His station 6 Kw ( has turned the market on to its ear! His dynamic marketing campaigns and format have left the market mainstays of 50 years in the dust!
    When his station does something, the others in the market start doing the same... he's obviously got the know how, financial backing and team in place to do battle that results in advertisers calling him, and employees from other stations begging for jobs at his station!

    Matthew Glaser (20), Owner / General Manager BOLD Broadcasting, WELJ has been requested to do many speaking appearances. The industry cheerleader organizations have made him the 'Poster child' of the future of radio broadcasting and media advertising.

    Everything he touches turns to gold.

    Like Elon Musk, Matthew's leading a winning team of young and tireless clever professionals. His latest development, soon to be beta tested in major markets, is going to send rating and market research firms running to buy cleats to maintain traction in their niche markets...