Consulting Christian radio and working in Greece with English formats have both provided perspective on
selling a niche - at least perceptually - in the minds of the business owner. But is there really a difference?
Vasileios Touronis, owner and GM of Star-FM (CHR) and Heart ('80s and '90s mix) in Thessaloniki, Greece, says the main difference might be the commercial message. "The Greek business owner spreads some English language in their commercials to rise above the clutter." At his stations, all commercials and breaks on
the English formats are done by DJs in Greek.
But whether it's Greek or English, your sales reps must know:
3. Product knowledge
So, are there really differences in selling a niche format? Here is a checklist for the sales manager:
- Train your sales reps in the language of retail terms, phrases, and vocabulary. It helps to speak the language they're selling, but at the end of the day, speaking the language of the business owner overcomes all format barriers. Rick Davison, general manager of WVFJ in Atlanta, explains these important factors for selling a Christian format: "Your audience is as much a part of your product as your creative department and on-air staff.Your product knowledge must include who you target, the target listeners' profile, and how well you hit the bulls-eye. Clients and prospects buying niche formats need to be assured you understand your audience, and how to effectively present their products and services."
- Identify your geographic areas of influence. Don't try to go where you are weak. It seems simple, but reps reach out to businesses that sometimes don?t fit your geographical strengths.
- Testimonials and air checks: Make sure each rep has air checks of the station and recorded and video testimonials of successful business owners. On the video, capture consumers shopping the business so the prospect can see what the listeners look like. The perception is that niche formats attract lower-income listeners, but in many cases, it's the opposite. Niche-format listeners may maintain higher-income households. In Greece, for example, English speakers are considered to be at a higher income level, based on education.
- CMP (customer marketing profile): Custom design your needs analysis folder. In Greece, our CMP is in Greek even though we are selling English stations. Break out your top two categories of business - such as automotive and furniture - and design specific questions for those categories, including current research. Remember, 95 percent of all sales reps in radio and TV don't do any research before they pick up the phone to set up the appointment.
- Closing presentation template: Make sure your reps are presenting all of your station's strengths. In many cases, your reps leave out critical benefits of their format. It's easy to train your reps using acronyms for their presentations. Our client, SILK-FM in Kelowna, BC, Canada, uses this acronym:
S: Strength of product
I: Intrusive creative that catches listeners? attention
L: Long-term - 21-year local ownership
K: Kelowna - demo, geographic, and qualitative of the market
F: Flexible in scheduling
M: More money - the business owners get results!
- Leave behinds: Leave something for the business owner, such as mouse pads for their computer, CDs, DVDs, coffee mugs, t-shirts, or note pads with your digital frequency. This might seem trivial, but little things mean everything!
So is there really a difference? Afroditi Tompakidou, general sales manager at Star/Heart in Greece, says, "We provide results to our clients. Great staff and superior staff training, tracking and planning systems, qualifying the prospects, needs analysis reports with the clients (CMPs), written presentations, testimonials, spec spots, ROI, account management, and great client service.We also market our stations in
order to always get good ratings. If you do all that, the format is not an issue."