Tag Archives: stop sets

RETURN EVERY CALL DAMN IT (aka No Wonder You’re Not Making More Money!)

No Wonder You’re Not Making More Money!

Recently I had a three and a half year contract come to an end.  I had some things to replace the business and income but not all of that has come to fruition.  So, I have dusted off my old selling skills.

A very good old friend of mine chastised me for not digging my well before I got thirsty.  He’s right.  I should have never let my Harvey Mackay skills get rusty.

So, I started smiling and dialing.

I didn’t realize that in the last few years that folks in business had increased their sales resistance so much.  More than that they really have lost the ethics and good business practices of returning phone calls and emails.

One old friend I called had been selling network programs to radio for 35 plus years.  He sold me a network program clearance in New York some 35 years ago!  Over time we have helped each other many times.  The stories he told me are frightening.  He told me about one VP of Programming of a chain that he has called 35 times with out even one returned courtesy call.

A mentor of mine gave me the quick General Manager course a long time ago.  I am going to recite it here and now to just plain help some folks.

#1 Rule Of Being A Radio Manager

COFFEE AND MBWA

 

Do you like coffee? Great!  (if not identify the beverage that you like and can walk around the building with)  Show up at 8am or before.  Remember you lead by example.  Get your coffee.  (or water, tea, Coke, Dr. Pepper, Diet Pepsi etc)  Now wander around the building.  If you have never been exposed to MBWA let me be your teacher. It stands for “Management By Wandering Around.”  When the on air light goes off in a studio… stick your head in and say “Hi.”  If you have a positive comment about a break or bit, go ahead and say, “love that bit about peanut butter!”

As you walk around you might be asked questions.  If you can answer and it’s not something you need to keep away from other ears go ahead and answer.  Otherwise just say come see me in my office at 9:45.  Then answer there.

Spend some office time with the door open.  Folks will drop by with questions.  Answer them. The truth is, we really only need managers to do ONE thing. Make decisions!

#2 Rule Of Being A Radio Manager

ANSWER QUESTIONS DAMN IT.

You’re greatest likelihood of failure will be your inability to make decisions.  Make up three, three by file cards.  On one write, “YES.”   On one write, “NO.”  And on the last one write, “IN SIX MONTHS.”

When you can’t come up with an answer reach into you top desk drawer and pick a card.  That’s better than punting.  If you want to increase the likelihood of your success throw away the “IN SIX MONTHS” card.

Make decisions DAMN IT!

#3 Rule Of Being A Radio Manager

NEVER EAT LUNCH AT YOUR DESK.

Always eat lunch but NEVER at your desk. Even if you are on your way to being Twiggy, order something small and take one bite. Lunch is about business.

One day every week take an employee to lunch and pay!

Ask them about how they are doing.  What resources they need to perform better.  Ask them about their lives.  Let them tell you about their kids or hobby. Eat, drink and keep your mouth occupied a lot.  Make eye contact and LISTEN.  Show them you care about them as a human being.

One day every week take an existing client to lunch and pay!

Thank them for their business.  Ask them how things are going.  Is there anything we can do better?  Eat, drink and keep your mouth occupied a lot.  Make eye contact and LISTEN.  (You notice a theme on this one right?)  Show them you care about them as a human being.

One day every week take a prospective client to lunch and pay!

Yes, you are not the account executive.  You let them know you are just being the Ambassador of the radio station. You can help answer questions and know how a well-executed marketing campaign will work.  The key is to listen to them and gather information. They will tell you why they are not yet advertising.  Shut your pie hole and LISTEN!  At the end of the lunch thank them for their time.

One day every week take a community influential to lunch and pay!

Have lunch with the mayor, city councilman, school board members, folks on the hospital board, local clergy, Chief of Police, Sheriff, folks who run the animal shelter, Superintendant of Schools etc. Enjoy your lunch.  Ask a few questions then eat, drink and shut your pie hole. You’ll learn more about your market.  You are the leader of this frequency, which is public space.  We are supposed to serve folks who live in marketplace.  The airwaves belong to them we just hold the license right now.

Lunch is your opportunity to build a bridge to your employees, clients, possible future clients and influential city leaders.  Good managers know that they often run into the same folks in a marketplace doing multiple things.  The person running the Chamber of Commerce owns a business that is one of your advertisers.  He or she is also on the bank board where you applied for a loan to get that translator you want.

The woman who is the Chairperson for the Susan G. Komen walk also owns a business that is a client of the radio station.

NEVER EAT LUNCH AT YOUR DESK.

#4 Rule Of Being A Manager

RETURN EVERY PHONE CALL MESSAGE

When you get back from lunch you will have mail and phone messages.

First, time for one more round of MBWA!!

Then back to the office.  Open and read all mail.

When it comes to mail use TRAF!

Trash, Route, Action, File.

The mail that is useless and a waste of your time throw in the trash.

Some things need to be routed.  You can simply write on the mailer about new fangled digital stl boxes “Vernon ???”   Put in the mailbox of your engineer Vern!

The mail that hits your desk that causes something to be done by you goes into an action pile. These are the mailings where you need to make a call, write an email, or write a letter.  Then make those calls, write those emails, or write those letters.

File.  This is the stuff that you might need. Things from the FCC, leases, agreements, contracts, even a flier from a tower painting company.  You might not need tower painting right now but when you do you’ll have materials with offers from vendors.

A filing system isn’t a filing system.  It needs to be a retrieval system.  If you can’t find something you need from a file in 30 seconds you have a poor filing system.  Even that flier about tower painting think where might look for it  I write on it  “TOWER”  “PHYSICAL PLANT” “TRANSMITTER”  “FCC.”   Then I make 4 copies of it.  I place one in the “Tower” file, one in the “Physical Plant” file, one in the “Transmitter” file and one in the “FCC” file.  You might think I’m nuts.  But, I don’t waste time finding things.

In the electronic world it’s easy to create folders both on your computer, a copy on your thumb drive and a cloud drive.  Even with these kinds of files I make multiple copies of documents and put them in electronic folders with several names.  So when I have a research pdf I want to keep I place copies in “MUSIC”  “RESEARCH” and “CALL OUT.”  I don’t waste time looking for things.  I find them!

Now return every call. You have messages and recorded phone messages from callers.  Call everyone back on those pink “while you were out” slips.  You never know when there is a thirty thousand dollar order for a farm implement company just being phoned in.

You may think sales calls are a waste of your time but in the one minute elevator speech the person on the phone may tell you how their service can save you $900 a year on something you currently pay for.  They might also point out that they can deliver it at a higher quality for that lower price.

I have a GM who does just this.  One afternoon he called me and asked me if I had ever heard of a particular vendor.  He then told me of the price they had for something we were about to purchase.  Their price was a lot less than a vendor I had recommended.  I now recommend the one he pointed out to me. He takes calls.  He returns calls.  I can tell you he’s kind for about a minute.  After that if you waste his time he will shred you with some strong language. But he takes calls and he returns calls.

RETURN EVERY PHONE CALL MESSAGE.

In the afternoon do another round of MBWA.  Leave your door open and answer questions from the folks who come in. If you don’t know what to do consult the decision cards in your top desk drawer.

Please don’t leave until 5:30pm or 6pm.  Work.  Talk with your people. Coach your people.  Listen to your sellers at the end of the day. Empathize with them. Celebrate their victories. “At a boys” are a reason to be a manager.  This is the short course.  In GM 201 I cover the roles you can play.  One big one is “cheerleader!”  For those big or tall male managers just the thought of you donning a grass skirt and pompoms is a vision that makes it worth it.

One company I work with recently had a managers meeting and as part of the lead up there is a company wide sales meeting.  I saw a video of the VP of the company standing on chairs leading the sales folks to the dance of YMCA.  Other than he was standing on chairs, (don’t want anyone to get hurt especially a manager who positively cheerleads!) he was being a companywide cheerleader! He was having fun and showing them without saying the actual words, “work hard but for gosh sakes have FUN!”

Have fun!  Drink Coffee!

Wander Around!

Make Decisions!

Take People To Lunch Everyday!

Return Every Phone Message!

I realize managers are busy.  I see the folly of having a manager oversee multiple clusters in a region.  Often I hear the number one problem is they can’t find qualified sellers.  Did you ever think about what would happen to the experienced seller who just moved to you area who just dialed the station and said I want to talk to the General Manager?

I hear lots of radio stations where I could fix their music, morning shows, positioning and help them make hundreds of thousand of dollars more.  There are even stations that have one kid running the music computer for five stations.  In a quick call I could offer a solution that improves their music AND saves them money.  But because mine is a “sales” call they don’t have time.

They are stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime.

I’ll keep calling because the folks who do take the call will get the deal, the improvements and increased top line cash flow.

If I don’t call you, feel free to test me and see if I return calls.  (Hint… I do!)

Keith Hill 252-453-8888

Many of you are digging a hole this way

When you could be

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GOOD, BETTER, BEST, MOST, BIGGER, LOUDER, FUNNIER and #1 The WOW FM! uh a radio station so good you almost don’t deserve it.

Positioning Of Radio in 2018

Jack Trout and Al Reis all taught us so much about “Positioning.”

In the world of brands we all have mental ladders.  When I say “toothpaste” how many can you name?

Crest, Colgate, uh… maybe you get to Pepsodent.  I’ll bet you didn’t get to Gleem!

Ok let’s do Fast Food Pizza brands go!  Pizza Hut, Dominos, Little Ceasars, Papa Johns, and because I came up with Papa John’s I can tack on Papa Murphy’s.  That’s only five.  Imagine what happens to the local places in the Pizza wars.

If your fortunate enough to operate the only rock station, or only chr station, or only country station then good for you.

If you operate the only rock station … you can be Rock 109 and that’s a good place.

You do realize that when someone picks a fight with you they are going to pick a narrower-lane. You might get a New Rock station or Classic Rocker as a competitor.  They might reposition you as wimpy and utilize the slogan “Classic Rock That Really Rocks.”

Your competitor is “#1 For New Country.”  Ok we know what lane they think is the most valuable.  Do they hammer it?  Do the own it in the minds of the folks in the marketplace?

Then there are the positioners that don’t mean as much anyway.  “Hot Country 101.”  Well the word “Hot” is a tofu word that you better apply some valuable attributes and meaning to!

Music quantity isn’t as strong an attribute as it used to be.  I can tell you that radio listeners today think we all lie and that every radio station says they play the “most” country, rock, hit music, Hip & Hop, Old Skool and R&B.

There are some meaningful ways to make music quantity an important wedge you can use against a competitor, but you better be able to truthfully demonstrate it. Otherwise just putting a t-shirt that says “I’m Skinny” on a fat man isn’t going to work.

Music quality. If two stations are fighting with one as “Big Townville’s Best Music” and the competitor is “Your Hit Music Leader.”  Both are wasting a lot of valuable time saying “blah blah blah.”  Because that’s what the listeners are really hearing!

Radio stations that are truly positioned well will assault the market in several ways.  First, they will say their position over and over and never stop.  They will find clever ways to reinforce the position other than just saying it a lot.  They will collaterally support it with visuals. (Print, Web, TV, Billboards, Direct Mail etc) They might even do a promotion around the positioner to poke you in the eyes and ears to make it even more memorable.

Hint, sometimes the best position isn’t as sexy or clean as you might want it to be.  It has to be right.  There is nothing wrong with a screwdriver but if your trying to drive a nail you’ll be better off with a hammer.

Then there is knowing what’s right but poorly executing it.

Ever try to cut a birthday cake with a 2 by 4 piece of wood?

You crush a lot of cake and it doesn’t cut that well.  You motion is correct but the tool is blunt.

A knife is needed.

Is your positioning right?

Let me help you. My positioner is I am The UnConsultant.

I think most consultants want your money more than rolling up their sleeves to figure out the exact custom solution to your radio stations challenges.  Consultants tell you how they did it in Denver, Seattle, or Miami.  I don’t’ give a rip.  How are we going to get it done here in your market?

I reinforce my positioner with “I Build Successful Radio Brands.”

Lastly, in my arsenal of skills I coach air talent, develop promotions, analyze Nielsen and help develop overall plans and oversee their execution for ratings growth, but my #1 skill is I am “The World’s Leading Authority On Music Scheduling.”  Arrogantly I can state that I am.  It took 30 plus years but I know more about it than anyone.  I’ve studied it. Taught it.  By the way when you teach something you get really good at it!

Is your positioning right?   Is your music right?   (oh Lord, Is your music position right?)

If you don’t know you can find out from someone who does.

Call Keith Hill 252-453-8888

Get Your Music Right.

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Music Shenanigans (When the Elephants Fight The Ants Take a Beating!)

Music Shenanigans

There is a guy in Nashville who has put together an algorithm to predict how well country songs do on the charts.  There is a lot to it.  It’s very smart.  It will be somewhat predictive.  Funny part is he already has identified there are outliers.  If the entire system of labels releasing songs, promoting songs and tracking them on charts was purely mechanical then his algorithm would be more predictive and not have as many outliers.

Might I suggest there is a lot behind the curtain that most folks don’t know.

How many stations on one of the charts does iheart own?   How many on the other chart are owned by Cumulus?

We do see iheart “initiatives” where all of the country stations play a new release once an hour all day long.

Let me share a little secret with you.  That really spikes a record on the chart!

Funny thing is you see the record pop way up into the 30s or even 20s on the chart.  However, after the mandate to play the song hourly is over the song settles way back.

There is also the Monte Hall aspect of charts.  Let’s make a deal.  “You can drop my poorly testing Superstar song and use that slot to add my new Midline Act.”  As if the label owns the “slot” on your station.

Then there is the “we’d like to support your play of this superstar act with tickets, meet and greets and a fly away.” Pause half-second.  “Can we count on you being there for us on the “new song that we are heavily investing in?”

Whoops “this bag full of American Express gift cards just slipped out of my hands.”

This is “legal” because I never used the words “in exchange for.”

Funny that during my music calls with radio stations on a weekly basis I have to identify certain songs as songs that have had some kind of manipulation to them.

Look at the second page of the chart.  (25-50 or 31-60)  How is when most songs get 1,2,3,4 stations to add a song in their 15thweek.  One song has a gigantic add week with 14 adds?

Really 14 stations all organically came to the conclusion that this turtle on the chart was thee song to add?  All in the SAME WEEK?

Now, I do not want to besmirch every label and every record professional.  There are some  honest folks and ethical operations.

I really like the “concept” that there would be an algorithm to predict how far a record would go on the charts.

For those of you without a consultant or VP of programming to help you might I suggest you look at daytime spins only!  Or if you don’t have to tools to do that… simply lose page two of the charts.

However, as one of the folks who has been observing this game for 40 years, I feel like the old baseball scout that mumbles, “steroids” or “he’s juiced” or “I won’t believe it till we get our own doctor to do the MRI.”

With human intelligence and years of experience I have in my head an algorithm that will work. When you know about the label plan to torpedo the song by the superstar that isn’t testing well AND know about the army of promo people from that same label are on the phones calling every station saying you can drop the superstar because “we need adds on newbie.”  I can guess the direction of each song on the charts.

One other thing I am seeing right now and I’ll admit I don’t have it all figured out.  There is a glut of newbies.  Right now I resort to one of the oldest saws in business.

When the elephants fight the ants take a beating!

I conduct weekly calls with my stations and they get real intelligence regards what’s real and what the Shenanigans are.

Is your music right?

Get Your Music Right.          

Call The World’s Leading Authority On Music Scheduling

Keith Hill 252-453-8888

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9  Minute Stop Sets?

9  Minute Stop Sets?

What’s the right length of stopsets in music radio today?

Whey back in the 80s Dave Klahr was manager at WMID in Atlantic City.

Dave had taken the time to figure out how much it cost us to run the radio station every hour of the day.  Electricity, staff, water bill, portion of expected capital improvements, AP bill, typewriter ribbons etc.  In a more macro view the cost of Programming, Engineering, Sales, General and Administrative.

How do I know this? One time I wanted to buy a 3 hour Frank Sinatra special.  It cost $300.  Dave said NO! His issue was he wanted me to work with the sales manager to figure out how we would make our money back.

I think today some radio stations sell spots at a rate lower than it costs for us to produce and broadcast them.

Does anybody sell tires for less than it costs to make them?  Does anyone sell carpeting for less than it costs to produce it?

Now you’re thinking the title of this article indicates that this is about length of spot sets. Yes, it is!

My point is there are two issues.  One, the radio station needs to make money.  At first we need to cover the nut (cover our expenses) then produce some top line gravy (profit).

Stops sets have been growing longer because our business hasn’t been rate aggressive enough. The big sins we are committing are we are abusing both our advertisers and our listeners.

We invite and try to entice folks to listen to our free radio product.  The only cost to them is that they are exposed to some advertising.  The candy they come for is music, music, music, music, music, fun and information in the mornings, companionship, a distraction from a tough day, new music discovery and perhaps the fun and chance of winning a prize.  How many minutes of commercial messages will they put up with before they sour and tune out?

There have been many studies.  Our largest broadcast companies have said that there is research that says folks defect the moment a first commercial starts so we are better off with fewer stop sets.  I get that.  The result of that with the granularity of the Nielsen PPM measurement has led us to the two “bow tie” stop sets at 15 and 45.  Then in order to get the revenue we need, (to cover the nut and make that top line gravy) the stop sets have grown to 6, 7, 8 minutes or more.

My claim is that’s sort of like eating breakfast, lunch and dinner all at once.

If these longer clustered stop sets were such a great idea why not just have all commercials 9am till noon then the rest of the day commercial free?  Well that doesn’t work to get commercial messages and impressions in the afternoon or evening.

Plus we want to reach them with multiple messages to build a top of mind awareness.  We do want them to work right?

Let’s think about an eight minute stop set that starts with a quick announcement that the new song by Florida George Line called Simple is next on Country 109.  Then:

60 Seconds for Hill Chevrolet.  The spot talks about how Hill Chevrolet is your family.  They take care of you for life.  There are two audio cuts of satisfied customers.

60 Seconds for Bob’s Furniture.  Bob personally talks about making the room you spend the most time in wonderful.  A comfortable couch or recliner is what you live for.  You’ll have friends and family over and this is where the main entertaining takes place. It’s where you watch football, dancing with the stars and more.  Bob explains how they’ve been in the furniture business for 78 years.

60 Seconds for Taco Bell.  The new Doritos Loco Taco for a limited time.  Plus their new “hungry box” for just $5.99.  The biggest coldest drinks, the freshest tacos and that super Doritos Flavor.  There is some yelling and screams of we believe are joy!

60 Seconds for Bank of Our Town.  Free, Hassle Free Checking. They explain how the other banks rip you off.  They literally suggest that Big Bank Company uses three shells and a pea. They feature bold laughter showing how the other Big Bank is laughing at you.  They repeat how easy and convenient Bank of Our Town is and come get the Free, Hassle Free Checking.

60 Seconds for Mosquito Joes.  Local franchise owner Tom Simpson explains how he used Mosquito Joes and it worked so well he bought a franchise here.  It works.  It helps make your backyard mosquito and pest free.  He explains how its safer and better for your family because folks and kids get diseases like West Nile Virus this time of year from mosquito bites. He gives a web site and phone number.

60 Seconds for Jack’s Steak House.  We are treated to a discussion between two buddies talking about where one can take his wife for their anniversary.  The other buddy suggests three or four restaurants that they dismiss. Finally he says, “I know” and proceeds to describe the best steaks, seafood, and service he’s ever experienced.  And they have the best wine selection in town!  It ends with Mr. Anniversary saying, “I’m gonna make a reservation at Jack’s!” The phone number is given three times.

60 Seconds for Tower Honda.  A fast talking spot about financing, great deals, there are prices and models mentioned like one that is just $299 a month another that is $320 a month.  We are told to hurry over three times during the spot. And if you don’t know where it is, it’s under the big water tower, Tower Honda.  “Hurry Over” is reprised one more time.

Then a 30 second spot for Jim’s Bait and Tackle.  We are told that the fish are bitin’ and the weather is fine.  We’ve been waiting all winter to get out on the lake.  Jim’s has the bait and advice to catch the big ones.  Jim’s, right next to the docks on East Lake.  And don’t forget Jim has gas!

Then 30 seconds of weather.  The Country 109 weather jingle plays.  We announce, “This weather brought to you by Verizon with six convenient locations in Anytown drop by today and get a new iphone 10 with unlimited talk and text for just $40 a month, clear and sunny and a high of 83 today, tonight some clouds but no rain expected anywhere in Anytown right now its 80 at Anytown Airport, 81 at the bus station and 82 at East Lake. Now Another 30 minutes of the Best Country in Anytown let’s kick it off with that new one from Florida Georgia Line, Simple on Country 109.” (Tag Sing “Country 109”)

Now at this precise point even if you remember Jack’s restaurant I’d bet you couldn’t come up with that phone number that was repeated three times.  There will be another blog from me about bad spots but for now the question is how many spots can we cluster and still have them work for the clients AND not drive our listeners to hit seek or scan or another preset?

Now lets think about our listeners.  First, we do need quality teases in front of the spot sets.  When I hear things like “Zac Brown Band next on Country 109” I think that’s like going fishing with an un-baited hook.  A baited hook is more like… “Coming up in 3 minutes the new song from the Georgia band that features eat and greets backstage before their shows and their new song is now all the way up to the top 20.”

My next question is why the heck do we sell 60 second spots?  Let’s say we offered a rate card that said 30-second commercials on Country 109 are $100.  Sixty-second commercials are $300.  If there are folks who simply have to have sixty seconds then they are available.  My hunch is they would work with a creative agency or us to craft effective thirty-second commercials.

Now are stop sets would be shorter! Not sure it’s an on air positioner but “Country 109 home of shorter stop sets because we only sell 30 second commercials.”

It surely would be strong for our account executives to be able say, “on Country 109 we never stop for more than two minutes or four sponsor message sets.”

Why are your commercials more expensive?  Several reasons.  First, we don’t throw you in with 6,7,8, or 9 other messages. Second, by being in shorter stop sets you stand out more, listeners are more likely to notice and remember you. We also spend a full two weeks working on the creative.  We have several meetings inside the station and with you tweaking it and tuning it so it will work.  We also refuse to sell schedules that don’t have the reach and frequency to work.  We won’t sell you a bus ticket that drops you off in the middle of nowhere and still 20 miles from your destination.

I worked at stations in the 80s that promised 51 or 52 minutes of music every hour.  That meant that there were 8 or 9 minutes of commercials.  With eight it would be possible to have just 2 stop sets of four minutes.  Now there you might want to offer some 60-second spots for sale at a price that just a little more than twice that of a thirty second spot. With nine minutes you could do three spot sets of three minutes each.  I feel strongly that works better for the advertisers AND listeners.

Now that you’re at the end of reading this… what was the phone number to Mosquito Joes?  or Jack’s steak house?   We let advertisers do useless waste of time things in spots.  We also let them run equally bad spots that they don’t even know aren’t very good.

Worse, do you know what is a good an effective spot when you read the copy or hear it?  IF not that is something you need to learn too. I’ll be writing about that more soon.   That’s a tease for this blog.  Keep Checking Back Here for the free Cocaine in the School Yard.  I’ll get you addicted.

Want Answers? Want Better Ratings?  Want Higher Revenues?

Get Results Call –  Keith Hill 252-453-8888

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