Every radio station should be using their website to generate leads for their sales team. If you're simply sending your salespeople out to prospect by looking at the advertisers on other local media outlets, you're missing a huge opportunity with your website.
Over the last several decades, the way people make large purchases, such as radio advertising, has changed. They used to start the process by talking to a salesperson: asking questions and getting more information. Now they end the process with a salesperson. They begin it by doing online research. In fact, by the time a salesperson is involved, the lead probably already has a good idea of what they want. (For more on this, check out Brian Carroll's book, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale.)
This means two things: (1) Your salespeople have much less influence over the buying decisions of clients than they used to, and (2) if you're not engaging potential clients online, you're not involved in the early stages of their buying process, and missing out on sales. You need to set your website up to capture leads.
The basic sales cycle for a radio advertising buy is pretty long. First a business considers a media campaign. They may need to wait until budgets are approved, or they get buy-in from the necessary stakeholders within their company. While they are doing this, they will start with online research. Once they are ready, they start looking at different media options: television, print, online, outdoor, radio, etc. Once they have decided to include radio as part of their advertising campaign, they will begin to look at specific stations. This is when they will want to talk to a radio sales rep.
You do not want to wait until the last stage of the buying cycle to become involved.
Instead, you want to use the internet to engage buyers early.
Here's the basic concept: You want to make online content available to potential advertisers. This content will not only help you build goodwill with prospects, but it will also help you identify which stage of the buying cycle they are in. You also need to put some of this content behind forms that capture the lead's contact information for your sales people.
Let's look at each piece in more detail:
1. Early Stage Content
You will need content that is created for people who are in the early stages of the buying cycle. In other words, for people who are starting to think about advertising, but aren't fully committed to it yet. Your content can take any number of forms: blogposts, white papers, webinars, videos, etc. Some ideas for Early Stage Content:
- Five Secrets to a Successful Advertising Campaign
- How to Determine the Necessary Budget for a Successful Media Campaign
- Five Signs That You Are Ready to Run an Advertising Campaign
You want to make Early Stage Content available for free on your website. Do not force people to fill out a form to access this content — they are not ready to make a purchase anyway, so there is no point in getting your salespeople involved yet; however you do want to put an Email Signup Form (see below) on the same page so that people can sign up if they want. (I recommend using a pop-up window for this.)
2. Mid-Stage Content
Mid-Stage Content is for people who are farther along in the buying cycle, but still aren't ready to purchase airtime. This is likely to be people who have decided that they need to advertise, and are now comparing different mediums. Here are some ideas for Mid-Stage Content:
- Where to Advertise: A Look at the Strengths and Weaknesses of Different Local Advertising Mediums
- The Role of Radio in a Successful Advertising Campaign
- A Guide to Allocating Your Advertising Budget
Unlike Early Stage Content, you want to require people to give you their email addresses to access this content. So you will need an…
3. Email Signup Form
The more fields a form has, the less likely people are to fill it out. So we're going to build two forms: a simple one that only asks a person for their email address, and a longer form (more on that below). When people fill out the email form, they will be added to your Prospects email list. Note that this is not the same email list that you use to engage your listeners. This list is for potential clients only. Instead of weekly contests and concert info, you are going to send this list useful content about creating an effective advertising campaign.
This form will appear before the Mid-Stage Content. Nurture leads on this list by “dripping out” automatic emails (called autoresponders) with links to your Mid- and Late Stage Content over time. You will set up these autoresponders in a “lead nurturing” campaign. For example, a week after I sign up for the email list, I might get an email about “How to Budget for a Successful Advertising Campaign.” Three weeks later, I would get an email about “Finding the Right Media Mix for your Business.” And a month later, I might get an email about “The Role of Radio in Your Media Campaign.” And so on.
An autoresponder campaign nurtures prospective clients by staying engaged with them even if they are not ready to make a purchase. It's too early for your salespeople to call on these leads, but you want to engage with them. A well-crafted email campaign will keep you top of mind as these prospects proceed through the buying cycle.
4. Late Stage Content
Prospects in the late stage of the buying cycle have decided to advertise on the radio, and are now trying decide which station(s) they will use. You want to design content specifically for these people. However, this content should not try to convince them that your station is the best. That job — and it's a crucial one — is for your salespeople to do. Instead, the purpose of Late Stage Content is to get the prospect ready to talk to a salesperson, and to tell your sales team that a lead is ready for a phone call.
Here are some ideas for Late Stage Content:
- Ten Questions to Ask Your Radio Sales Rep Before Your Purchase Ads
- A Brief Guide to Understanding Radio Ratings
- How to Write an Effective Radio Ad
Your sales team will want to contact a person who accesses Late Stage Content immediately, so you will need to put it behind a…
5. Longer Contact Form
At this point, you want more than just an email address from a lead so your salesperson can call on them. A person's name, phone number, title, and organization are also important. You still want to keep this form fairly short or you will decrease the number of people who fill it out.
This form will go in front of Late-Stage Content. When somebody fills this form out, it tells your sales team that they are ready to make a purchase. You want to set up a system so that a sales rep is emailed as soon as this form is filled out, and that the lead is called within five minutes (yes, five minutes) of filling it out.
Notice that while radio salespeople are not involved in the buying cycle until much later than they used to be, they still play a crucial role: closing. If you qualify your leads by waiting until they fill out a form for Late Stage Content, you will be passing only the best leads onto the sales team. This is a much more effective use of their time than sending them chasing half-baked possibilities. They will close more sales in less time.
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