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Selling Radio to (Really) Small Business

December 1, 2017

Small business owner is one of the many qualitative categories reported on by Scarborough. And though it’s not broken down into sub-categories (such as automotive and restaurants are, for example), it’s actually one that I think more attention should be paid to. Why? Because small businesses are essential in every community, and are a great potential source of radio advertising revenue.

Small business, as defined by the U.S. Small Business Administration, is any company with fewer than 500 employees. Um, that doesn’t seem very small, does it? And your radio station is probably already advertising with many companies that meet this definition and don’t seem so small to either you or their local community.

But what about smaller small businesses? No, not the local car dealership or the chain restaurant or even the tax-preparation firm that have been reliable advertising customers for years. These are wonderful clients and, of course, you will continue to focus on them to meet their needs and grow the relationship.

But what about the smaller businesses that are looking for new ways to grow their company? Overlooking them to focus solely on the businesses that you have always turned to in the past could be a costly mistake. According to Chron.com, “While small businesses may not generate as much money as large corporations, they are a critical component of and major contributor to the strength of local economies.”

With that in mind, obviously there are lots of sales opportunities at mom-and-pop shops practically at your doorstep. But as with any sales effort, preparation is the key to getting your foot in the door, especially if it is a business that has not advertised on radio before.

First of all, you have to be prepared to overcome cost objections. With most small businesses that have spurned radio for other types of advertising, it is mostly due to cost constrictions. These business owners figure that word of mouth and having a Facebook page are sufficient. After all, satisfied customers who tell their friends are, admittedly, an excellent source of new business. And while these are good ways to grow a company, if an owner really wants to take it to the next level, getting the word out to more people in a cost-effective manner is imperative.

So here are some guidelines to explain why radio advertising is a bargain – even to small businesses.

  1. Adding radio to their existing advertising will raise their profile locally, getting their word out quickly to thousands of potential customers. These are people who haven’t heard of them but could use their products/services!
  2. Educating them about how your radio station meets their needs (i.e., how it reaches their potential customers in terms of either income bracket, demographic lifestyle, ethnicity, gender, age or any combination of these and other criteria important to that particular business).
  3. Speaking in terms of ROI is something they will comprehend. They probably don’t know CPP from AQH, but they do understand what a return on investment means. Talk their language!
  4. Using qualitative data that gives them hard facts and figures about their type of business shows that you have done your research and are trying to find answers that suit the needs of their small business.
  5. And while you’re offering those hard facts and figures, add any extra dollars-and-cents data that will make sense to them and impact their company’s bottom line positively.
  6. Finally, listen! While it’s great to have done your homework and have solid data in hand, you don’t know their business the way they do. As they share their experiences, an opportunity you had not considered may present itself.

So, take a good hard look at some of the small businesses that are around you. Some of them are even companies that you frequent and enjoy. What better way to spread the news about their great product/service than with radio!?

-Barbara Krebs, Quality Assurance