Radio Sales in the Time of Coronavirus

Selling Radio Direct with Pat Bryson


If you haven’t already heard this from a client, you probably will soon: “I want to cancel my advertising because of coronavirus”

Any time a large outside influence threatens to affect business, many clients have a knee-jerk reaction to pull in their marketing efforts.  They are anticipating a decline in business. Some of their fears may be real: some are purely emotion talking. In every crisis, some businesses actually do better. Some feel very little if any effect. Some do see declines.    

In talking with my managers this week, they are not seeing cancellations yet. I hope you may not be also. By preparing, we can mitigate damages. We don’t need to be alarmists: we do need to plan. 
We need to be proactive in anticipating our clients’ concerns. How may we prepare?
1. Look at categories of business that are likely to be negatively affected: cruise lines, travel agents, vacation destinations, hotels, airlines. Talk with them now, before they make the decision to cancel and discuss options. 
2. Look at other categories that MIGHT be affected: restaurants, movie theatres, events. These types of businesses may be anticipating losses that will not happen if they plan correctly. That’s where we come in.
They may not need to cancel their schedules but they may need to change their messages. This is the perfect opportunity for us to advise them on creating messaging that will resonate now with their customers. Do it BEFORE they cancel!  Discuss their options with them for new creative.
3. Target businesses that WILL benefit from the crisis. People tend to “nest” when they feel they should stay close to home. They may focus on new home entertainment, pools, spas, furniture. They may indulge their vacation needs by “staycations”, things to do close to home that don’t involve airline travel or large crowds.   
4. Consider sending messages to your clients reassuring them that you will support local business both on and off the air. One of my clients is already airing promotional messages encouraging support of local advertisers.  
In every economic interruption, whatever the reason, research over the last 90 years has shown that those clients who continue to advertise will weather the challenge better. As their competitors go silent, this offers the bold company a unique opportunity to increase market share. They can acquire a larger “share of voice” for less money because there is less competition.  
Research shows that not only will they do better during the crisis, but when it abates, their sales will go up faster and higher than the businesses who went silent. We teach an entire seminar that offers the proof of these statements. If any of you would like a webinar on this subject, I’d be happy to work with you on arranging one.  
Messaging is important. Customers will still buy. If their refrigerator goes out, they will replace it without waiting for the Coronavirus to go away. We need to help our clients to figure out what their revised messaging should be.
Remember that after this Coronavirus passes, there will be pent-up demand. Our clients should position themselves to take advantage of that demand.
After Katrina, I spoke to the manager of the Clear Channel stations (now I-Heart) in New Orleans. He made a statement I have never forgotten. He said, “Pat, in times of crisis business doesn’t stop. Normal business stops. You have to find those businesses who will benefit and work with them.”
Now is the time when our clients need us more than ever. We can be their lifeline to mitigating the damage bad news and fear can cause. Believe it: share it. This too shall pass.

See Part 2 of this article here.


About The Author 

Pat Bryson is the founder of Bryson Broadcasting International, a consulting firm that works with radio stations around the world to increase revenue by raising the skill level of their sales staffs. Her client list spans from the United States to Canada, Europe and Central Asia.

Pat has spent her entire career creating a culture of over-achievement for her stations. She began her career in radio sales, becoming one of the highest billing sales people in her market. Her career advanced to General Sales Manager, and then to Market Manager. Since starting BBI 7 years ago, she has helped hundreds of radio stations to find, train and grow great quality sales people and managers.

Pat was the recipient of two prestigious educational fellowships from the Educational Foundation of the National Association of Broadcasters: a fellowship to the Executive Development Program and a fellowship to the Broadcast Leadership Training Program.

She publishes the Bryson Broadcasting International Newsletter twice monthly, is the author of A Road Map To Success In High-Dollar Broadcast Sales and is a contributor to Valerie Geller’s latest book, Beyond Powerful Radio: A Communicator’s Guide To The Internet Age.


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