What Can You Do?

(Article printed from ARIA Connect - the online resource for radio sales professionals: www.aria-radio.com) Forgive me this week but I’ve read enough, heard enough, and had far too many conversations about the current state of the economy to last me a lifetime. It’s a great excuse isn’t it, to blame everything on the recession? In radio we’re very adept at finding things to blame in order to justify our non-performance aren’t we? The failing economy of course is a perfect excuse because it’s being shoved down our throats on a daily basis.

Should we remind ourselves of Sam Walton’s now famous quote? “I heard there was a recession, but I decided not to participate.”

Why do we crumble so quickly in a crisis? Worse why is it we continually join the herd of lemmings leaping off the cliff at the first sign of a challenge?

Late last week I had the great pleasure of chatting with a Radio Sales Director who knows what he’s doing (in a period when most radio broadcasters say they are hurting and losing money) this guy is enjoying 22% billing increases across his group’s selling year, and has been for the last 5 years. He and his team sell local, they sell long term, and they do it without a single doubt in mind. They in reality aren’t actually concerned with the economy, new technology, or resting on excuses.

Some people see problems as opportunities which are of course what they are, aren’t they?

Is the recession a problem or an opportunity? Is new technology a problem or an opportunity? Is the web a problem or an opportunity? Is satellite radio a problem or an opportunity? Is the fading national advertising dollar a problem or an opportunity? And at the very base of it all for you, is working in radio advertising sales a problem or an opportunity?

At the risk of sounding overly clichéd, is radio’s cup half empty or half full? Challenges, or problems (call them what you like) must be overcome, and conquered, or at least certainly faced up to in order to elevate ourselves to greater levels of competition - to greater levels of industry.

Will the radio industry (the business that began the tech commercial broadcasting age) simply accept what comes and hang on to weak excuses along the way (down), or will we stand up and actively participate in where we want to go, and in what we could be?

Have you ever tried to imagine what we could be?

You may be sitting there saying what can I do? After all you’re only in radio advertising sales - your entire life revolves around keeping the boss happy and hitting your revenue quota month after month after month - who cares how, right? How can you have any effect on your stations future let alone the entire radio industry’s destiny?

It’s an interesting proposal indeed, but here’s my challenge to you.

When you catch yourself bemoaning the economy this week, and the lack of revenue you’re signing up, stop, and think about where else you might find the money. If you want more, then more is required - more is required from you.

When you find yourself complaining about your breakfast crew or your format, stop, and empathize with what it is your air staff may be going through, then get off your butt and go and sell a breakfast sponsorship so your station can stay live, stay local, and stay on.

And the next time you’re feeling less than fantastic about the ad schedule you’re about to fit your new client into, stop, put your hand up and halt the meeting. Tell the advertiser what it is they really need and press the point. If they can’t afford it they’re not ready, but the last thing you and our industry needs is another advertising casualty as a result of the ubiquitous under-selling of advertising our industry engages in.

What can you do? You can do plenty.

Through another conversation I had with a good friend this week I was reminded of something I needed to hear myself.

It’s not the number of times you fall down that counts, it’s the number of times you stand up - it’s the number of times you stand back up that truly matters.

Today make that telephone call you’ve been putting off.

Today write that letter you promised so long ago.

Today visit that advertiser you’ve been avoiding.

Today if you’re down, stand back up…

… and maybe, just maybe ask your colleagues to join you.

Sell without regret.

Michael Tate, President, ARIA Inc.

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