Radio Sales Today

RAB Sales Tips

Q: How Do I Sell Against Digital? A: You Don't

RAB members always have the best questions...

Larry writes:

I've been "in" radio for many years. I started as a DJ (after graduating from broadcasting school in Atlanta, Georgia in 1968). After 20+ years as a DJ, I moved over to the sales side of the business. So, I've seen both sides.

There was a time (way back when) that most — if not all — business owners were older men and women. Our daily battle to get ad dollars/budgets was against the local newspapers, Yellow Pages and TV stations. Yellow Pages have died off; newspapers are rapidly declining and TV is becoming an issue because of cable.

But one issue I am starting to see more and more is the average age of the business owner! They are getting younger and younger! (Of course, I'm getting older and older at the same time.) And younger people are more in tune with electronic media — in particular Facebook, Twitter, etc. They keep their face buried in their cell phones all the time. I am being told more and more by younger business owners that they are now putting their efforts into marketing their business on FACEBOOK and that they are not interested in using an ad budget for radio.

So... my question: How do I best combat the above growing issue? I would be interested in your reply. As a matter of fact, I would think many radio ad sellers would want to know more about how to combat what I perceive to be a growing threat to the radio industry: electronic media — and often free — marketing of business by owners instead using radio.

Convincing a younger business owner that radio is a valuable tool and that posting sales flyers on Facebook and getting "likes" and "shares" may not be what is needed to keep a business afloat.

It's been our experience that many radio stations over the past several years have adopted digital platforms and a digital presence to the degree that they can sell digital to their clients and not view them as competitors, but complementary forms of marketing.

As an example, your radio stations most likely have more followers on Facebook than any single business. The reasons are that you have a tower and 24/7 access to tell people you have a Facebook page and engage them on that page. I know of a station in Scranton, Pennsylvania that has over a million followers to their page. When a client starts talking about Facebook to them, they invite them to be a part of the stations' Facebook page rather than promoting the business page because the reach is so much greater.

I've always believed that radio could stand on its own as a marketing vehicle. We have a 90%+ reach of adults. No other platform has that. At the same time, as you identify, today's younger buyers still seem enamored by Facebook, Instagram and the like. The problem is sometimes they are buying advertising based on THEIR behaviors, not their customers' behavior.

Other than Facebook marketplace, most people don't go on Facebook to buy things. They go on Facebook to share things with friends, family, etc., and recognize, similarly to radio, that ads are a part of the experience to keep the platform free.

Today's younger buyers view their phone AS their radio. To that end, stations have developed streaming platforms, apps, etc., to keep those heads that are locked on the cell phone, locked on local radio. The same is true with home devices like Alexa. Those devices have brought radio back into the home. You might consider looking at the latest Edison Research on the share of ear, as well as other research reports on that will assist you in telling the story.

The largest future growth in advertising is in the digital space. That's why so many companies are jumping on board offering digital services. That's not giving up on radio, that's enhancing your ability to deliver results to your clients with a multi-channel approach. Radio provides the reach, and digital resources can provide the engagement and hyper targetability that we could never provide in the past. We love your questions, opinions and thoughts. They are the highlight of writing these sales tips, so please keep them coming.

Jeff Schmidt is the SVP of Professional Development. You can reach him at You can also connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB