Never Assume

A useful habit for anyone interested in making a difference (and yes, that also means a difference in your monthly billings) is to question everything you're told, at least once.

My very first job was in the promotions department of a TV station, run by an extremely successful but sometimes intimidating executive who had the words "Never Assume" in bold type on a sign on the wall behind her desk. It had come to be her personal mantra after so many instances of being told that there was "a way" to do something, disagreeing but doing it anyway and having it go horribly wrong.

This is not to say there aren't rules and good and bad ways to achieve results. But it's worth bearing in mind that broadcast media, especially, are hostages to fashion, perception and environment and have to change with the times. Because of this, the methods and rules we rely on can become cyclical; the things we took for granted two decades ago no longer apply, the perceived wisdom changes for a while but then may begin to cycle back again.

Take commercial lengths for example. Readers of this column will know my personal preference (in a general sense) for thirty-second as opposed to sixty-second commercials, especially as most of the perceived wisdom regarding the advantages of 60's seems vague at best. It is interesting to note though that a few decades ago, successful commercial campaigns were mostly based around shorter commercials - even ten, fifteen and twenty-second lengths, with greater reliance on frequency. (You can see great examples of old commercial campaigns, at the website www.oldtime.com. It's also useful to see how the construction of some of the radio premium campaigns from the forties make many of today's supposed "Non-Traditional" revenue ideas look positively prehistoric!)

Never assume. There are other examples too. Like overnights. I've met and trained many sales teams who won't sell overnight sessions at all. Often the reasoning is that "nobody listens". True, it's likely that you don't get the same ratings as the morning show - these hours may not even register in the ratings. But they can be a great earner. Some people do listen overnight, and what's special about the people who do, is that they're often not the same people who are listening to mornings and drive times. Think about it - shift workers, students, hospital employees, cab drivers, truckers, emergency services, insomniacs, creative types of all sorts. If you're wide awake listening at 3.30am, you're probably not listening at 7.30am or 5pm.

Now figure that if you don't normally sell that airtime, then anything you can get for it has to be an improvement over the status quo. This gives you enormous flexibility in pricing and allows you to target clients who want and need to advertise but can't usually afford prime slots. Its also great airtime for packaging up for phone blitzes and for adding perceived value for wavering primetime clients.

Never assume. It could really cost you.

(Article printed from ARIA Connect - the online resource for radio sales professionals: www.aria-radio.com)

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