By Mike Walker
What do prospective sponsors look for in radio advertising? This question is asked of just about every radio seminar speaker at the various outdoor writer conferences.
The answer eludes so many who are either in radio or want to be because they won’t invest in even the most basic sales training and they won’t take the time to market themselves or their programs.
The reasons why so many fail at getting more sponsors or advertisers are many. More often than not, it’s because these talented individuals have not or will not invest in learning how to sell or take a sales training class. The same individual who would spend $900 on a new rifle won’t invest the same amount in a sales training class that will ultimately put more money in his or her pocket than the new rifle. It’s a question of priorities.
In 1936, Dale Carnegie published “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Since then, his book has sold more than 15 million copies and is widely credited as being the first book in the modern self-help genre.
The core of Carnegie’s simple philosophy is that one of the greatest human needs is to feel important. If you want to win people over to your way of thinking, or have them become an advertiser, they need to like you. And the way to get them to do that is to take an interest in them.
When learning how to sell better, we often hear the advice to ask questions and listen to the customer. This advice, though, is frequently given in the context of using questions to gather information helpful to the sales process, and to listen for clues that will help you convince the customer to buy.
What Carnegie suggested was that the true path to being a successful salesperson, leader or well-liked individual was not to focus on your desired outcome, but to put your attention on the other person.
Here are Carnegie’s six ways to get what you want by making people like you:
1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely. Notice the emphasis on being genuine and on sincerity. Despite the fact that Carnegie was talking about how to persuade people to adopt your point of view, this really isn’t some sort of manipulative sales technique. It’s a recipe for making friends.
This idea wasn’t just a personal theory of Carnegie’s. To write his book, he interviewed the most successful people of his day, from Clark Gable to Franklin D. Roosevelt. He studied the writings of philosophers from Confucius to Benjamin Franklin, and the lives of famous leaders from Abraham Lincoln to Henry Ford.
Carnegie spoke with many professional salespeople, and also with many of their customers. Here’s what he discovered: “Thousands of salespeople are pounding the pavements today, tired, discouraged and underpaid. Why? Because they are always thinking only of what they want. The world is full of people who are grabbing and self-seeking. So the rare individual who unselfishly tries to serve others has an enormous advantage. He has little competition.”
Here’s what I’ve found prospective sponsors look for in radio advertising:
• An increase in sales.
• Relevant content.
• Value – a good return on the money they will invest in sponsorship.
• Chemistry, a pride of relationship and associating with your program.
• A solution to their problems.
I also polled a number of retailers who buy outdoor radio in their marketing efforts. Their comments varied, but the following points were common among them:
• The program has to tie in with what the retailer sells.
• The host has to have a passion for the sport.
• When the program airs is important.
• Retailers won’t buy from a stranger; they want a relationship.
• Retailers are more likely to buy only outdoor radio due to a target audience – anglers and hunters.
Just as important as what sponsors want in a radio program is what they don’t want in their relationship with you:
• They don’t want to be “sold.”
• No one wants to buy a pig in a poke; have testimonials from listeners or other advertisers available in writing.
• Leave your ego at home. This is about them, not you. They want to hear how you can improve their sales.
To boost your proposal, visit the Radio Advertising Bureau Web site at www.RAB.com for helpful information. In-depth information is available if you are a member, but membership is not inexpensive. However, there is free information on the site that’s available by download.
As you have read, craft improvement in radio goes beyond voice delivery or having the latest gear, because nothing will happen until you sell something. ◊
Mike Walker of Scottsdale, Ariz., is OWAA’s third vice president. He operates Walker Communications Inc. and produces and edits “Ducks Unlimited Radio” and “Toyota Outdoors Radio.”
By Mike Walker