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Grow! by Paul Martin

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How much do radio stations spend on getting listeners?

Just about every radio station I know battles with the same problem: How much should my station budget for listener recruitment? That would include billboards, transit, direct mail, cable TV, broadcast TV, online. Schonfeld & Associates in the 2008 Ad to Sales Ratios study shows: Industry Ad Dollars as Percent of Sales Annual Ad Growth Rate (%) Annual Sales Growth Rate (%) Gross Margin as Percent of Sales Ad Dollars as Percent of Margin Radio Broadcasting Stations 10 -12 8 52.6 19 Two poin ...

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Good prospects for business development

It sure seems like it is taking longer than every to bring a business development prospect to the point of being a customer.  That's why I look for any way to help best appraise the monetary value of a prospect before I begin investing my time. Schonfeld and Associates prepared a study that shows the Advertising to Sales Ratios for most every industry.  In essence, you can find how much each industry typically spends on advertising and select prospects with an idea of what they might invest in advertising. Here are some examples from Schoenfeld's 2008 study: Advertising as a Percentage of Industry Sales Amusement Parks 8.5% Auto Dealers 0.8% Auto Repair 4.6% Soft Drink Bottlers 3.5% Department Stores 5.1% ...

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Making sense of cents in other countries

Analogies really help learning. Jesus used parables. My pastor is a craftsman of illustrations. I'm a big fan of anything that can help folks (including me!) get a handle on complex ideas.

For instance, how do you help those of us in the U.S. understand the size of other countries? I saw this map that compares the Gross Domestic Product of other countries with individual states in the U.S.

For instance, New Jersey's state economy is about the size of Switzerland. Texas' state economy is about the same as India or Mexico. The California economy is about the same size as Canada.

Now, I don't think anyone will confuse Colorado for Thailand...or New York state for South Korea, but this analogy sure helps make world economics a lot easier to grasp for me.

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A fruitful future this Christmas

I love living in Texas. What a gorgeous Christmas day! Before the family came to the house for lunch, I wiped off the patio furniture and opened the windows because a 65 degrees Christmas day is a real gem!

We gathered in the den to open presents. I was surprised to see a very tall box with my name on it. I opened the box and discovered one of the most meaningful gifts I have ever received: a Brown Turkey Fig tree.

We will likely plant the tree this weekend. In a few years it will bear fruit. In a few decades it will continue to give shade and fruit to whoever lives here.

And that's how many major donors feel about giving to your station: they look forward to the fruit for this generation and the next.

Now that we're winding up the end of the year, make sure to engage those donors who want to see your station as I see the Brown Turkey Fig tree--an opportunity to impact people today and for years to come.

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Turning a recession into a golden opportunity

The representative on the other end of the phone expressed disbelief. "So, really, how many prospect calls do you need to make every day?" Successful gold prospectors in northern California figured it out: the more sand they panned, the more gold they found. During the recession of the early 1980's I worked in radio business development in Tulsa then Dallas. The oil price plunge, combined with large-scale real estate speculation failures, hammered both cities for several years. A trainer said that successful representatives have a discipline of contacting 20 new prospects every workday. That's contacting--not just dialing. I just wanted to a do a good job, so I started calling 20 prospects a day to build my book of business. Funny thing: business grew! Back to the gold rush in California: The successful prospector didn't spend a lot of daylight hours going to the store, whittling or hardly anything else. He spent daylight hours sifting through sand and dirt to find a small nugget. The other important stu ...

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Driving toward opportunities when distractions are all around

With all the economic news over the last few months, many leaders (including me!) have been budgeting and re-budgeting. I've found it hard to look for opportunity to grow income when I am so focused on shaving costs. I remember when I was a student driver with my dad sitting in the front passenger seat. Dad's car was a 1967 Ford Mustang powered by a straight-six 200 cubic inch engine with automatic transmission and air conditioning. A few weeks before my sixteenth birthday--the age for getting a driver's license in Texas--I drove the freeway close to our home. I noticed several clever new billboards along the freeway. That's when dad spoke calmly, but sternly: "Keep your eyes on the road. You drifted into the right lane while you were looking at the billboard." I didn't believe him. He was wise to wait a few seconds until the next intriguing billboard caught my eye. All he had to do was say, "Look up." Sure enough, I had encroached on the right lane. That's when he said words that mean a lot to me in times ...

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10 Things You Must Know When Hiring a Business Development Rep From Another Radio Station

Several station managers are mentioning that they are receiving a large number of commercial radio salespeople contacting them about coming to work for their listener-supported stations. We've seen both success and failure from stations hiring commercial radio salespeople so make sure the job and the candidate are a good fit. We recommend that you write down how you will judge the success of the candidate six months from now. (In fact, Advocace's consulting division has a complete recruitment training program called RIGHT-Coach that you might find good for this--ok, shameless plug over.) With questions like these 10 you might discover whether the prospective representative could be a good fit for your station. How many new accounts did you add to your business on the books on a typical month? (You want to hear that the prospect generated new business every month from 3 or more new accounts.) How long had you been at your previous station? (If the rep had been there more than 3 ...

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December: The Shortest Month of the Business Development Year

After brief pre-flight introductions last December, the fellow in the middle seat says to me, "So in the radio advertising world you must really like December!" As a listener to radio, that would be a good assumption. But the truth for a business development professional is that December is the shortest month of the year. Successful local radio business development professionals move on to the next month when there are fewer days remaining in the month than you've already covered in the month. With the gregorian calendar, the busdevpro switches to grow her last-minute July bookings on June 15. That gives the busdevpro about 21 weekdays each month to work with prospects and sponsors and finalize their schedules when there is still enough time to impact the results of the booking month. That rule works pretty good for nine months a year--leaving November, December and January as explosive exceptions. November: Since many businesses and radio stations are closed for the two days around Thanksgiving, you hav ...

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Thank Full

"Happy Turkey Day" said the deliveryman as he left our office a few moments ago. I really appreciate his sentiments, but we're leaving something very special out. Thanksgiving is the only American holiday that is still attached to its historic meaning. Our family visited the site of the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts a while back and a guide told us stories about the pilgrims and the incredible hardships they endured. Whether the severe disease that struck the sea-faring pilgrims or the bitter cold of the New England winter that caused so many deaths, the early settlers faced day after day of trouble. From the time the pilgrims left Europe and made it to their first growing season in Plymouth, they buried about 50 of their family, friends and seamates--that is about half of the number that embarked on the Mayflower's journey. Recognizing the loss of loved ones and the continuing hardship, the Pilgrims looked for God's provision and celebrated his delivery. In that first successful harve ...

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Four Leadership Lessons from Photography

I loved taking pictures with my first camera. The Argoflex wasn't simple to operate for anyone, much less a skinny six year old. The Argoflex was a twin lens reflex (TLR) camera so you could see the image through a viewfinder on the top of the camera. I would roll the knob on the side of the camera to focus on the object. After shooting a roll of film, I took it to the drugstore and about a week or so later, I got my glossy black and whites. At first, I had a lot of out-of-focus photos so I learned that I had to really look hard at a very small area in the viewfinder and roll that knob forward and backward to to get a sharp picture. Leading an organization is a lot like that Argoflex. You have to have an objective You focus on a small area to get a sharp picture You pull the trigger/shutter and you won't see all the results for a little while You see the results and make adjustments As leaders, the focal point is our business objective ...

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