March 2013 – Recognizing New Accomplishments

March 4, 2013

Peter Smyth

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.

I’ve always loved that quotation and have used it many times when discussions about new approaches to our challenges devolve into discussions about how “we’ve always done it that way”. Traditions and best practices are fine, but there are times when the best course of action is to take a risk and try something different.

We all know that the past couple of years have been challenging for the radio business. As we are disrupted by new digital competitors, it’s a natural tendency to buckle down and just try harder, doing what we know has worked in the past. It’s a mild form of insanity, usually followed by acute disappointment when managers look at financial or ratings results.
That is why we have been providing both education and encouragement to sales staffs throughout our company to re-imagine their job descriptions, their relationship with their clients and the solutions we can provide to advertisers.

Each year, we look at the total advertising budgets for American companies; they are growing at a comfortable rate. We know that digital has grown exponentially for the past five years, and we realize that our industry has to tap into those dollars. But sometimes, we do not make the more significant conclusion: in order to adequately solve our advertisers’ marketing challenges, we must move beyond selling “time” and bring to the market completely integrated programs that utilize our entire toolkit of resources. Notice I called them “programs”, not “packages”. In short, packages are what we want to bundle together; programs are selected resources that work to address the advertiser’s need. Everybody packages; it’s shorthand for discount. Very few companies go to the trouble to create individualized programs that meet the customer’s needs.

That is the key idea that will allow radio to move forward and secure its place in the local media spectrum. We have a unique set of attributes – our targeted broadcast can gain awareness for a product quickly, and our digital and onsite assets can engage and communicate one-to-one to turn listeners into qualified prospects for advertisers.

In light of these developments, we decided to spotlight those in our company who have embraced these changes and we put our money where our rhetorical mouth is. I am very encouraged by my review of entries for our first annual Chairman’s Awards, which focus on these new approaches we so urgently need to implement. During the past year, we invited all of our stations in all of our locations to submit their best performers in three categories.

Interactive Salesperson of the Year – We want to recognize the salesperson who consistently uses our digital tools to help our advertisers. Familiarity with what’s possible in the digital world and consistently presenting it to clients is an important trait for the salesperson of the future. We have to be as comfortable talking about interactive capabilities and metrics as we are describing our listeners and ratings results.

Creative Project of the Year recognizes the entire team who made the most creative use of our assets to engage listeners on behalf of our advertisers. We know that some of these projects become quite intricate and require a great amount of detail work and cooperation between various departments within the radio stations. This award celebrates such teamwork.

Integrated Solution Provider of the Year spotlights the salesperson who embodies the attributes I outlined above. The entries in this category are a list of some of our very best performers throughout our company and they should all be saluted. It is not easy to adapt your approach to sales, continue to learn and assess new technology, and be able to sit down with a client and convincingly explain how you intend to put it to work for them. It is even more impressive when all of that effort comes together in a successful campaign for the advertiser and, many times, a great promotion for our radio station. It’s new and unfamiliar territory, but it is rewarding work and we intend to recognize those efforts throughout our entire company.

Very shortly, we are going to host a company-wide video meeting at which we will announce and congratulate the winning entrants in this year’s competition. More importantly, we will set the bar for even more revenues to be generated in the coming year by using these approaches. Through consistent training, coaching, case study examples, as well as this recognition, we will transform, strengthen and expand our relationships with our bread and butter – our local advertisers.

I will share this final thought with you, from Albert Einstein: We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.