They asked, I answered. Over the last couple of weeks, I took note of some of the questions I’ve been asked by industry friends or co-workers. I thought I’d share the answers with you:
Q: What’s the most important skill set you look for in new hires?
A: I’m not sure I can narrow it down to just one, but what I’m mostly looking for is energy and creativity. I know I can teach new hires about the radio business, about the radio stations, the digital products and the events. I know I can teach someone how to prospect, cold-call, do a CNA, present, close and service, but I can’t teach them how to do it all with energy and creativity. It’s like the basketball coach who says: “you can’t teach size!”
Q: What type of presentations do you think work the best?
A: Short and to the point. I have seen some ridiculously long presentations. The AE walks in and hands a small novel to the prospective client that has an intro, a concept page, station maps, rankers, profiles, bios on the hosts, three pages worth of explanation of the pitch and then a few summary pages and a “thank you” slide. How about walking in the room, presenting a great idea and plan, with passion, that fits with the needs of the client and then close the deal and hand them a summary page to sign? I realize you can’t always do that, but for goodness sake, remember what KISS stands for – keep it simple, stupid.
Q: When should you talk about ratings?
A: Only when you’re asked. For those just getting in to the business, my tip for you would be to learn how to sell without the ratings. If you can’t sell without the ratings, you’re destined for a short career. Three certainties in life: death, taxes and whatever ratings you have will eventually go down. Ratings are great to have, but as the saying goes, “you live by the ratings, you die by the ratings.”
Q: What is the biggest mistake you see in the radio industry?
A: Not putting enough time in to ad copy. It can be such a critical part of the overall success of a campaign, and yet so many bad commercials get aired on our stations. Every business has “the best products at the lowest prices, with the best customer service.” Every restaurant and bar has “the best food and the coldest beer in town.” Writing copy to check a box can doom any chance you have of a renewal right from the start. If you want to sell me something, make me feel it. Let me hear the sound of that steak sizzle on the grill or the roar of the fast car. Good radio, be it content or advertising, should generate an emotion.
Q: What length of commercial do you usually recommend?
A: I always say to go with the shortest possible time you can get your message across in. I believe strongly in frequency of the message (Dave Gifford would say, “What you say, times how many times you say it is the only thing working in advertising today.”). The time will vary by industry, but keep in mind the attention span of the people your ad is speaking to. Less truly is more when it comes to commercial copy.
Q: What’s something you miss from when you first started in radio?
A: Competitiveness. I had the good fortune of being around a sales team that was very competitive and very motivated by personal success versus their co-workers. Each week, the manager would write the individual sales numbers up on the board, in order, from best to worst by month. All the sellers would gather round as he was writing and you’d see fist pumps, high fives and some dejected faces. I see less of that these days. Winning used to be a bigger deal. The more winning, the more money in your pocket.
Q: Will the Mizzou Tigers make it back to the NCAA Tournament this year?