BRADENTON, FL — One of the many valuable side-effects of attending a TALKERS conference is the opportunity to meet face-to-face with a number of folks with whom you communicate only by phone or email. In addition to the onstage presentations at Talkers New York 2014 held this past Friday (6/20), it was a unique opportunity to discuss and explore some of the current challenges facing the talk media — particularly those offered only moments prior from the podium. At lunch, between sessions and during the cocktail hour I found myself in the midst of several of these spirited exchanges.
Regarding the slowly, stuttering recovery of the national economy, within my various knots of conversers, it was clear that one issue dominated all others — advertising sales. It was agreed that sales never have been really easy, but one element of the process has become far more important. It is servicing the account after the sale has been made. All acknowledged that advertisers are demanding more attention, reassurance and hand holding. And in the medium and larger markets, their obsession with having a digital component connected to just about all packages can be positively maddening. On the local level, especially in the small markets (which remain extremely important in my book) mere occasional contact and messaging no longer are sufficient in the current atmosphere.
Even though your program or station cannot guarantee sales action, every group member agreed there are steps that now must be taken to keep the nervous advertiser as comfortable as possible during the run of the spots.
Of course there are the obvious steps, many of which you automatically do anyway – phone calls, email, even occasional visits if practical. But now, beyond these, it is vital to keep an eye out, even search for, sales leads and potential customers that you can pass along to your client.
Keeping the advertisers informed as to what your show or station is doing also is critical. Get them a steady flow of information on positive press, or promotions or stunts. And here’s a quirk. Our group recommended sending the info in print and via regular mail. Why? Because experience shows us that we all are deluged daily by what electronically is being sent much of which is deleted instantly. A printed piece at least is glanced at and even set aside for further perusal.
There are couple of other important points made during our in-the-hall interchanges. Try to avoid dealing with advertising agencies (again, especially in smaller markets). Their interest always comes down to statistics: ratings and price. Then where can you find any other budget? If the potential client is big enough, it has a public relations department. And they always have separate money. Make your case there.
And if you are not totally sold-out, you might consider bonusing the clients you have in all open availabilities.
While good judgment should prevail, don’t think you are making a pest of yourself with all this contact that goes beyond just airing the commercials. Proper servicing of the account will make for happier customers whom you have convinced that you and your operation have done everything within your means toward their success. At the very least it keeps the door open for a renewal or the possibility of another order down the line.
Just keep in mind these important and prescient words from those two great English poets and sages, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “I Want to Hold Your Hand!”
Al Herskovitz is president of H&H Communications and a TALKERS marketing consultant. He can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.