What Are the Different Methods of Selling Radio Advertising?

Terrie Brockmann

Soliciting local businesses personally or using media representative firms that coordinate multimedia campaigns are just two of the ways to sell radio advertising. Some salespeople work exclusively from their office; some prefer to work in the field contacting potential customers; and many salespeople combine office-based work with fieldwork. Although most people associate marketing with new customers, radio-advertising sales depend upon existing customers as well as the new clients. A salesperson needs to be skillful in both areas of selling radio advertising. Typically, a radio advertising salesperson spends a lot of time researching potential customers' businesses and creating specific packages tailored to each client.

Radio offers a medium for advertising.
Radio offers a medium for advertising.

Generally, there are two ways to approach a new client: by appointment or by cold calling. Cold calling means that a salesperson goes to a business without an appointment or previous contact. Larger radio stations may have one or more people who make appointments for field agents; but at smaller stations, a salesperson may have to do double duty, spending part of the day or week setting up appointments and then meeting with the client. Usually, contacting the prospective client is only one step in selling radio advertising because it is often a complicated and lengthy process.

Radio advertisements often rely on jingles or catch phrases to grab audience attention.
Radio advertisements often rely on jingles or catch phrases to grab audience attention.

The office-based work in selling radio advertising involves activities such as researching businesses, creating advertisement campaigns or potential advertisement spots, and interacting with walk-in clients who come to the radio station seeking advertisement. Generally, the station expects the salespeople to arrange prize giveaways, set up remote broadcasts at clients' businesses, and other sales-related jobs. Often these activities involve special events, including a client's grand opening celebration, festivals, or other events. Expositions, such as home expo shows, trade fairs, and similar events typically allow the advertiser to target customers within specific demographics. Knowing how to match advertisers with related demographics is essential to successfully selling radio advertising.

Demographics involve information about the listener who is the advertiser's potential customer. Some of the information may be statistics about the listeners, like ages, income ranges, occupations, and other information. Often media representation firms use station demographics to determine if their advertisers match the radio station's listeners.

Frequently, selling radio advertising involves being creative and combining a need for station programming and advertisers. Many times a salesperson will work with programmers to create a show hosted by an advertiser or schedule an advertiser as a guest speaker. Some examples of advertising clients that work well in this type of campaign are garden centers and a gardening show, financial planners and a financial advice show, and plumbers or contractors and a home improvement show.

The techniques for selling radio advertising vary depending upon many factors, including the size of the station and its listener base, whether the station is a stand-alone station or whether it has one or more sister stations, and the style of the sales manager and staff. Some salespeople prefer to work from home, using the Internet and networking. Other people prefer to work from the office. Many times salespeople entertain the prospective clients by taking them out for meals, offering free event tickets, or giving them free items.

Radio shows that are hosted by popular hosts, such as Ryan Seacrest, can command higher advertising rates.
Radio shows that are hosted by popular hosts, such as Ryan Seacrest, can command higher advertising rates.

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