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Selling Without Ratings

August 19, 2021

For the past 30 years, Research Director, Inc. has helped radio stations maximize the value of their investment in ratings research. For much of that time it was Arbitron data and now it’s Nielsen. We also utilize qualitative research like Scarborough and The Media Audit.

This research is invaluable, but many salespeople become overly reliant on the Nielsen data. This is especially true for Nielsen subscribers that have a strong ratings position. Beware: those that live by the numbers, die by the numbers.

If you are overly dependent on the ratings you are extremely vulnerable.

Whether your station experiences a true loss of audience or the sample makes it look like you have, your data is no longer there to support you. At that point, it may be too late to shift your sales strategy. You’ve benefited from strong ratings in the past but now you’re being penalized by poor ratings.

Instead of relying solely on the ratings, you need to sell the conceptual advantage of buying your station. Sales reps for stations that don’t subscribe to Nielsen are forced to excel in this area to be successful. Ask yourself:

  • What makes your station unique?
  • How does your on-air/promotions differ from the competition?
  • What is your station doing both on air and off air?
  • What does your station mean to the listeners?
  • How has your station been successful for similar advertisers?
  • How can you as a rep make a difference to the advertiser?

When a campaign is over don’t just present how many spots or GRPs were delivered. Work with the advertiser to uncover how successful the campaign was. Demonstrating these benefits to the advertiser is independent of the fluctuations that are occasionally seen in survey data.

If you have built the conceptual story of your station and conveyed it to the advertiser they’re more likely continue to advertise on your station.

There is no question that positioning your station using the Nielsen data is important and can close sales. Just remember that a quantitative sales pitch is only part of the story. Establishing what your station is beyond the ratings transcends the numbers. It’s not only rating, rank, and cost per point, but also what your advertiser believes about you and your station that matters. The best reps sell the value of their station, and then back it up with research.

If you and your station could use help building your conceptual story, please reach out to us here.

-Charlie Sislen, Partner