We Have Met The Enemy, And It Is Us

March 22, 2018

Re-post of article from Radio Ink:

(By Paul Weyland) It’s got to be our fault. As local direct clients need us now more than ever, we’re still not stepping up to the plate for them. Instead, broadcast stations still seem stuck in a late-’90s time warp, still offering clients the same old computer-generated proposals for radio and television schedules (unfortunately at 1980s rates). Are many of us ignoring the fact that in this new digital age, many of our buyers are either cutting back or just not buying radio and television the way they used to?


Ask around. For the local brick-and-mortar retail client, the threat isn’t just Walmart or Sam’s Club, now it’s Amazon Prime. Millennials and even boomers are brazenly showrooming our retailers and forcing them to shut down.


The digital threat is real, and we in broadcast are often our own worst enemy. Digital revenues are climbing as broadcast revenues shrink. Coincidence? Hardly. Each week I talk to broadcast managers who are now finally entering the digital playing field. Welcome to the party, even if you are at least a decade late.


Regardless of whether you want to believe it, the fact is that formerly good clients are now cutting back or canceling. Why? Because for many clients, their belief systems regarding media have changed. They’ve been told, and at this point many of them truly believe, that they should be transitioning much more of their marketing and advertising dollars away from traditional media and over to newer, more “measurable” digital platforms. How many times have car dealers warned you about their new “digital mandates”?


So what to do? Nothing? Just sit back and hope things don’t get any worse? Just pretend that everything is OK? Keep telling yourself that with luck, you’ll retire in a few more years and won’t have to worry about this crap anymore?


From this point on we must go back to earning our money the old-fashioned way. We must prove to our advertising decision-makers, in language that they absolutely understand, that we’re still worthy of their respect and we’re still worthy of their financial investments in our radio and television stations (and our digital products as well).

Question: How do we do that?



1. Give the advertisers (and your audience) what they need in order to stick around. If you haven’t already, start building a digital platform. Then you can tell clients that yes, you’ve got them covered … in their cars, at home, at the workplace. You’re everywhere consumers are, on all-sized screens.


2. Give your sellers the tools they need to succeed. Bringing back client dollars and respect requires broadcast sellers to have two important skills:


First, the ability to convince decision-makers beyond a shadow of a doubt that advertising with you is a necessary and measurable long-term investment, not a gamble or a luxury. Use the client’s gross margin and average sale to show them that broadcast advertising, with good creative and an appropriate long-term schedule, is a good, calculated risk (I have explained how to calculate return on investment in previous Radio Ink articles).


Second, the ability to do the client’s advertising and marketing thinking for