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  • Alec Drake

The Tale of Two Revenue Strategies

Updated: Jan 19

"It was the best of times; it was the worst of times" starts the opening paragraph in "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens. The book aptly gives us a nod toward the existing dilemma between local and national radio sales.

Image by Gerd Altmann - Pixabay

There is constant friction between selling for a share of the budget in a national transactional process and the long-standing valued clients in the local markets. While the plan of getting dollars in the front door is common to both, the advantages and disadvantages in each case can be profound.

A market manager must straddle the agendas of both players in the game. How do you protect the value of your inventory in a commodity-minded marketplace? You love the big orders from national, but you might regret how much inventory is chewed up in the sale. It would help if you dialed down the flare-ups between your local manager's resentment towards low ball deals and national folks banging their heads against a high-pressure wall of taking it or leaving it buyers.

What strategies can help the revenue streams generate the best topline and bottom-line performance? Any effort for shared vision and value starts with these guidelines:

First, Get Everyone on the Same Team

Trying to appease both sides in the local vs. national competition for station inventory and customers (in some cases) will not work.

  • Get everyone involved in a video meeting and acknowledge the internal contest exists.

  • Clearly, state the benefits from each side and list the pitfalls of each approach in sales.

  • Build a streamlined communication pipeline, be open to solutions, not objections, and have a point person on each side focused on the big picture.

  • Celebrate wins on both fronts that support cooperation in the common goals. Add incentives for local managers to benefit from total and local revenue.

The local managers are often pulled into the performance objectives for national campaigns and should recognize that effort.

How To Balance the Share vs. Rate Dilemma in Radio Sales

  • Use a robust inventory and yield management strategy to provide a backdrop of data and direction on decisions regarding a particular order.

  • Partition inventory is designated for share goal orders that drive bottom-up demand on your rate curves.

  • Use terms and conditions to lay in long-term business with minimum damage to future revenue potential from remaining inventory.

  • Be ready to lose a piece of business to win in the next round or serve a different customer locally or nationally.

Top Line vs. Bottom Line

  • Review your commission structures to clarify what business makes the best contributions to the bottom-line metrics.

  • Consider any "add-ons" to the order, like rebates on the performance of the schedule from the post-buy review that can show up as a negative in future quarters.

  • Protect high-margin inventory such as "Endorsements" from overuse by national clients or discounting pressure due to order size or a high Cost Per Point (rating metric).

  • Are there any corporate deals that penalize the local P&L and should be noted in the margins when considering bottom-line goals for bonuses?

In Summary: Thoughtful planning, solid communication, and staying on top of market conditions and client movement between platforms will lead to better management decisions. In a shrinking pie of traditional dollars, maximizing the radio revenue potential for station inventory is critical.

While the capacity of your stations is fixed and has limits, there is room for expanding cooperation between your national and local sales effort. It is not a choice of best or worst; it's a choice to build a shared vision and value to understand what success looks like from a macro point of view.

Thank you for reading this article, and please pass it along to your colleagues.
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About The Author:

Alec Drake openly shares revenue management strategies and sales improvement ideas in the "Sales Success Library" at He is a regular contributor to Radio Ink Magazine, where he leverages four decades of experience to write about sales and management. Alec is the founder of The Radio Invigoration Project (T.R.I.P.), a support initiative for local radio sales and promotion staff.

Drake Media Group, LLC retains exclusive rights to any original content in articles written by Alec Drake or published on any third-party platforms and featured in any podcast.

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