Monday, January 17, 2011

Serving Two Masters: the Radio Station and the Radio Advertising Client

Radio advertising salespeople serve two masters: their radio stations and their advertising clients. A salesperson's paycheck is written on the radio station's bank account. But the station's account depends entirely on the dollars that come from its advertising clients.

Who, ultimately, is the salesperson's "boss?"

I’ve pondered this relationship for many, many years—the interlocking, occasionally conflicting relationship between “making goal” (putting the station’s needs first) and “serving the customer” (putting the client’s needs first).

It's too simplistic to say that these are (or should be) one-and-the-same. They’re not.

How should the salesperson serve his two masters, station and client? Each has his own priorities and objectives, his own self-interests.

We can bring the two objectives into closer alignment (though never perfectly) by investing in our salespeople, e.g., offering training in the arts of advertising, copywriting, and related marketing skills—and not just sales training, important as it may be—and then by empowering and encouraging them to evaluate, objectively, whether a particular schedule, campaign, or package is truly in the client’s best interest.

Short-term, budget-driven thinking tends in too many cases to see the client only as a means to an end. (There is the flip-side, of course, where a client sees the radio station as just another vendor, and his radio ads as a commodity, nothing more.)

Taking the longer view—and this has been my experience, especially in the second half of a career spanning nearly forty years—giving the client the benefit of the doubt and choosing his interests over the station’s when there’s a conflict, is a surer way to cultivate durable, longstanding relationships built on trust, respect, and honesty—a foundation far more likely in the long run to benefit the station as well.


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