Entering the “Danger Zone” The First 90 Days

Selling Radio Direct with Pat Bryson –

You’ve just sold a brand, new client. Yippee!!!!

That’s what we say in Oklahoma when something great has happened.

You worked hard for this one. It may have taken weeks, months or even years to get their agreement. You may have the urge to sit back, rest a little, and enjoy the “win”.

Now is when the real work begins. Our new client is now entering the critical first 3 or 4 months of their advertising campaign. In about 60 or 90 days, they will be smack dab in the middle of the “chicken out” period. What is this? How does it work?

We know that campaigns created with the radio recipe of enough weekly frequency, long enough, and with a relevant message, still take time to ramp up. That’s why it is imperative that we use OES schedules, make them a minimum of 52 weeks, and utilize great creative. It’s like a train. You hook the engine to the train cars. The train begins to roll, slowly at first, chugging along. As it gains momentum, the train speeds up. Eventually, it reaches maximum capacity. It will continue to travel at maximum capacity as long as the engine is attached. If the engine is disconnected, the train will gradually slow down. But I digress.

When we sell a new client, we must have a conversation UP FRONT, at the time we sell them, about the “chicken out” period. We need to forecast what their results will be like, how long it will take advertising to “ramp up”. The worst thing is to have our clients expect to air an ad today and have 50 people running into their store tomorrow shouting our call letters. Of course, in their heart of hearts, that’s what they want to happen. If we don’t manage their expectations, they will think “Radio doesn’t work”.

What is this conversation? “Mr. Client, let’s talk about what you can expect to happen. The first people who will mention your ad will be family, friends, maybe some competitors. You’ll probably have some other radio reps come in: they listen to our stations. What you shouldn’t expect to happen is for customers to come in and tell you they heard it. That rarely happens. It will take from 6 to 9 months for your advertising to ramp up. Other clients have told us they see more results in the last 90 days of their campaign than in the first 9 months. I’m not saying you won’t see some results sooner, but that the full effect will take some time. So, please be patient with the process.”

What do we need to do in the first 90 days? We need to stick like glue to our new client. Whatever your agreement for client contact, exceed it. Be in touch weekly either by phone, email or in person. Send them articles on their industry. Refer business to them. Take them coffee, donuts. Invite them to lunch.

We like to circulate the new client’s business and contact information to our front desk and our on-air people. Why? Because listeners often hear part of a message and contact us to get the rest of the story. We need to be prepared to direct customers to our clients.

Of course, you send a thank you note. It’s a nice touch to have your manager send one as well, or perhaps a well-known on-air personality. These make your client feel extra special.

The way we provide exceptional service in these first critical months will set the stage for a happy client or an unhappy one. Go the extra mile!

Happy Servicing and Happy Selling!