How To Negotiate A Great Radio Package For Your Business

By Mike Munter on October 31, 2012  

Before I got into SEO, I worked for Comcast-Spectacor.  They’re the Philadelphia sports and entertainment firm that owns and operates the Wells Fargo Center and the Philadelphia Flyers of the NHL.  They’re some of the best marketers I’ve worked with.  I learned a lot while working there and in this post, I’ll share some of those strategies to help you negotiate your best possible radio package at the best price.

Cash Is King!

Radio stations survive on advertising dollars.  It’s their sole source of income.  As a potential advertiser, you have a lot of leverage because, well, you’re the one bringing cash to the table.  Sure, you want to buy those prime drive time spots, but you also want to get the most value for your marketing dollars, right?

Here are some excellent “throw-ins” you can ask for AFTER you’ve received a preliminary proposal from your sales person.

Throw-Ins To Create A Great Radio Package

#1  Live Remote

Bars and restaurants aren’t the only ones getting radio personalities at their business – virtually any business can host an open house or a grand re-opening event.  Tell your salesperson about it and ask for a live remote at the event.  See if you can nail down how many advance on-air mentions they’ll give you to help promote the fact that they’ll be coming to your place of business.  A live remote can add a lot of pizzazz to your event and you’ll receive plenty more mentions on the day of the event, when they are “live from your business”.

#2 Live Mentions

Live mentions are announcer read promos that occur in the middle of a content segment.  A common example of this can be heard during sports broadcasts, where an advertiser sponsors the “play of the game” or “the call to the bullpen”.  Look for content that makes sense – if you’re a day spa, you could sponsor a station break, i.e., “Before we take a break, ABC Spa Company reminds you to take a break, too.  Take advantage of their 2-for-1 massage special until the end of the month at abcspa.com”.

A law firm might work out sponsorship for a special segment during a radio show, as simple as, “Now it’s time for the [special segment] brought to you by the ABC Law Firm.  ABC Law Firm is your New York DUI representative.”

Mentions like this can add some real zip to your spot buys and the mentions should be an easy “throw-in” on your deal, as there is no expense to the station.

 We can help you brainstorm if you’re looking for an idea that fits your brand.

#3 ROS Spots

ROS (run of schedule) spots are the ones that run during off-peak hours.  These are generally considered to be “fluff” by the station, as they are used as throw-ins to help fluff up a package.  Just like #2 above, they ought to be an easy throw-in because they hold little or no value to the station.  On their own, they are difficult to sell, so they are often used to spice up a package.  Sure, they are not worth much, but if you had the choice, wouldn’t you rather have a few extra spots running at 2 am, rather than none at all?

#4 Link On Their Website

Since we’re an online marketing company, it only makes sense that we’d remind you to get some online PR from your radio partner.  Ask for a link to your website on their website.  If you do a live remote or event promotion, you ought to get a link by default.  Make sure its there and try to ensure that it’s going to be permanent.

Usually, when you’re negotiating a radio package, you can either pay the price the station wants and get them to throw in value by adding the items above, OR you can choose to haggle hard on price.  If you can pull both off, then you’ve hit a home run.

Ways To Save On Your Radio Buy

#1  Never Pay Rate Card

No brainer.  Advertising sales reps usually have plenty of leeway to cut a deal.  Ask for it or wait for it, but never pay the maximum rate in the first proposal.

#2  Offer Trade

Radio stations love free “schwag”. They need prizes to give their listeners and they love to have giveaways for their live remote events.  If you’re an accountant, offer them a free tax preparation, if you’re an auto dealer, offer a month-long lease to the general manager of the station, so he can use it as a perk for an upcoming staff sales content.

Of course, you’ll have to weigh your opportunity cost against what you’re getting, but offering trade value can be a great way to save money on your radio buy.

No matter what business you’re in, you can come up with something of value that might help you reduce your price.  Call us if you need help with an idea.

#3 Co-op Dollars

Okay, this idea is about working with your suppliers, not the radio station, but you might find it helpful to save money.

Co-op dollars are advertising dollars that you might get from a partner in your business to help offset your costs.  For example, if you’re a distributor of Trane air-conditioners and your sales of Trane products are halfway decent, then they will offer you co-op dollars to help offset certain advertising buys.  The trade-off is that you’ll have to mention Trane in your ad, but that might be well worth it in order to reduce your costs by up to 50%.

You would think co-op dollars would be a given, but when I was selling sports sponsorships, I was amazed at how many times we were the ones educating our potential advertisers on the opportunity to get co-op dollars from their supplier.

Consider any vendor you buy from (and therefore have leverage with) and ask them if  they have co-op dollars available to help offset some of your advertising costs.  You might be surprised how many vendors will actually kick in a few bucks to get their name mentioned along with yours.

Got any other ideas or experiences you’ve had negotiating radio packages?  We welcome your comments below!


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