May 19, 2021

We’ve all been through a tough year. We adjusted to a pandemic, worked and stayed safe at home, and brainstormed our way through a very soft economic environment.

But now, it’s time to plan for rebound success.

Radio is still America’s #1 reach medium. 90% of all Americans aged 25-54 listen to the radio each week. I know you’ve heard this before, but it’s important to remember the power of reach that radio represents.

Consider that the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) projects $2 billion in podcast ad revenue by 2023, doubling this year’s 2021’s $1 billion. And BIA Advisory Services says that local radio’s digital revenue will grow 9.7% in 2021 and is expected to keep growing.

Are you ready to raise even more sponsorship than before? Here’s a checklist to help you accelerate preparations for success in FY22.

Review Your Digital Sponsorship Offerings

If you’ve migrated to Grove CMS, it has 300×250 display ads down the right rail, a 728×90 banner at the top, a 320×50 mobile banner, and they’ve added another 300×250 mobile banner.  Why not offer sponsorship of all the ad placements?

  • Start offering sponsorship of any digital ads that are available in your station’s app.
  • Offer dynamically inserted streaming audio pre-rolls in your broadcast streams. It’s time to move away from “baked in” and “tired” streaming audio pre-rolls.
  • Offer dynamically inserted pre-rolls and mid-rolls in your podcasts. This will allow you to sell sponsorship of new episodes, and also “back archived catalog” episodes as well.
  • See if there’s room for two or even four 300×250 digital ads in your membership emails and e-newsletters.
  • Explore new audience engagement opportunities with your membership and content teams that could also give you additional digital sponsorship inventory. For instance, would membership be open to targeted email offers for members from a local “lifestyle” sponsor (i.e wine store, bike store, book store?)

    Would content consider a weekly online trivia feature or curating station content to feature on a sponsor’s social feed?

Manage digital buyers and agencies

Update Your Media Guide and Your Digital Overview

It’s likely that your website visits and unique views have changed greatly and that your streaming numbers have risen a lot. See if you need to adjust your broadcast numbers. Do you have new podcasts to promote and list as well? 

Routinely Offer More Digital Sponsorship

After you’ve updated your media guide and digital overview, see what’s working. Is everyone always making digital sponsorship part of their proposals? Would practice selling digital assets to each other help with confidence levels?

Assess the Size of Your Sponsorship Representative Team

Relying on too few sponsorship representatives can hold your station back from reaching better conversion ratios in your market and places sponsorship at greater risk if someone leaves or has to be out for an extended period. Now would be a good time to hire additional sponsorship representatives and get them trained before calendar year 2022, when we expect to see the strongest economic rebound

An average rule of thumb is one sponsorship representative for every $400k – $500k in revenue. If you have a budget of $1,500,000, you would need at least three sponsorship reps, but four would be better. Not every sponsorship rep will be at the top revenue-producing level of $400k, and most need two to three years to develop their account list.

Refresh Account Lists

If you need to add another sponsorship rep, pull some of the smaller accounts from current account lists so they have viable billing accounts to start from. Will current reps complain? Yes. But it will give them more time to work their medium and larger accounts and prospects. My experience has shown that changing up accounts can help sponsorship reps focus on better prospects, allowing them to grow their business more quickly.

Try Account/Prospect Swaps Every Six Months

Now is a great time to have everyone on your sponsorship team bring in a list of five prospects they believe are a a good fit for the station, but with whom they haven’t had any success. Have them also bring a list of small accounts they don’t want to work with anymore. A prospect or account swap amongst co-workers can give everyone a fresh list to work on and renew the energy of your team.

If one representative has most of the “legacy” accounts, now is the time to split up legacy business and prepare for growth. It’s hard for one rep to maintain all the legacy sponsorship and grow their list. They’re probably really good at selling sponsorship, so they need the opportunity to “cold call” and grow their list without being bogged down by a large legacy list which has become mainly transactional. You don’t want your best sponsorship rep to stagnate and become bored.

One way to distribute legacy accounts to more members of your sponsorship team is to give financial support of the lost revenue for about three months to the representative who distributes some of their legacy accounts. This isn’t easy, but can be handled thoughtfully it’s so worth it in the long run for everyone. It’s also an opportunity to make sure everyone on the team has a diverse list of business categories so their account list will be strong no matter what happens in the economy.

Sponsorship will be knocking at your door in the coming year, prepare your team to receive it!

Manage digital buyers and agencies