Recently I was asked the question: “Why did you get into radio marketing?”
At least once a week I find myself with my head on my desk asking myself a similar question: “What did I get myself into?”
I don’t think there are many people out there that say “I want to sell radio advertising when I grow up!” If they do then it’s a safe bet they were dropped on their head, or held too close to a microwave as a small child. It’s a “accidental career” for many.
As a child I was the bomb at selling Girl Scout Cookies. I didn’t think twice when it came to selling ad space for school newsprint pieces. It was just another goal to hit, a “prize” to win.
Did it look like fun? Well hell I have no clue! I was on the “other side of the building” so to speak. I was on the broadcasting side. I had spent most of my life behind a microphone or on a stage, and talking had never been a issue for me. Stage fright I wasn’t prone to suffer (unless it involved playing a piano) and the other side of the business never occurred to me. Seriously. I was very early in my media days, and already had a background in fundraising. Somehow the two got mixed together and the right person heard of this combo and the next think I know is “sponsorships” are being explained to me.
Once upon a time I was on the air full time, I loved what I did. Then my boss asked me if I could go see a local business who did business with us. A “shake their hand and make them feel good about what we do” thing. This local business owner handed me a check at the end of our visit and I went back to my boss a little bewildered. My first annual contract. It was so easy! All it took was me getting out from behind the microphone, going into a local business, talking to the owner for a bit and bam! They’d write me a check for an annual right? Yeah I’m still laughing my ass off over that one.
What I had seen amazed me. I could sell the “space” on the air where my voice went. What a novel idea!
I had applied for a on-air spot with a local radio group, soon after sending over my resume I got a call for a interview. The guy on the other end of the phone told me it wasn’t for the on-air spot I sought, but for a sales job. After seeing my resume the “powers that be” wanted to exploit my background to make their stations money. The nerve! Oh wait I’d be making a good hunk more money than the on-air spot. I wasn’t totally naive, I knew that it was easy to tell who drove what in the station parking lot. The management drove the brand new luxury cars, the sales staff drove the older luxury cars, the programing directors drove a station car, and the DJ’s drove what they had driven in college.
Having my diverse background and education are two of my biggest assets. Right up there with the fact my balls are bigger than most guys, I’m a excellent actress, and oh I have boobs.
It’s easy for me to draw on years of experience in media to help a client market their business in a way that is going to give them a strong ROI. (return on investment) I have been known to wake up from a sound sleep with a promotions idea or a commercial script. You don’t want me in charge of the radio on a road trip because I will drive everyone in the car nuts listening to commercials in other markets.
Selling radio is hard work, harder than selling Girl Scout cookies. See everyone wants cookies, and deep down they need the yummy goodness known as Thin Mints. Not everyone knows that deep down their business would attract more qualified customers if they just advertised properly on the right radio station. Key word being “properly”.
With the proper education, good training, a supportive management staff, and a proven product it’s going to work. I love the seeing a clients business do well and thrive, and knowing I help craft the campaign that led them down a successful path.
It’s HARD work. One of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had in my life, it’s also the most FUN and rewarding in multiple ways. It’s similar to pregnancy and motherhood. Only in radio sales if you are smart about your diet you’ll avoid the stretch marks.
It’s a blessing in life to be able to find something that enables you to do so many of the things that you love. I’ve also been very blessed to have some of the best clients, and great bosses. I came into my career in radio sales by way of many other routes, and I just wish selling annuals was as easy as the first one! ;)
-“Big Money Red”