Selling Without Numbers

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When station revenues begin to decline, management quite sensibly looks to reduce expenses. One obvious example of red ink on the P&L is the monthly payment to Arbitron (or whatever ratings service your station employs). While it’s tempting to not renew the ratings contract and pocket the savings, most sales people shudder at the thought of selling without “numbers”.

In major markets having access to ratings information is vital. But in smaller markets, where local direct is king, the numbers are less important. Experience shows that less scrupulous stations frequently compensate for bad ratings by distorting the numbers. This adds to the clients’ general confusion and distrust of ratings in general. Who do you trust when every station is claiming “we’re number one!”?

At least one market manager decided to try a different approach. Taking the bold step of not renewing his ratings contract, he took the rather substantial sum he saved and applied it to persuading clients to make year-long commitments to his stations. When key major advertisers were offered an all-expense-paid two week vacation for two in Hawaii in return for a year’s contract with the station, the result was a 37% increase in station revenue.

Advertisers are people, too. They respond to personal inducement just as would anyone else. The money freed up by dropping your ratings service can be multiplied via innovative approaches into more profit for your stations. Once sales people see the potential, the question of selling without numbers becomes less important. That’s because sales reps are people, too. And they always love making more sales.