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SYNDICATION 101... Help Getting Sponsors

The number one question we are asked is "do we handle sales... i.e., getting sponsors?" The answer is no... because we are not a full-service syndicator. We just clear stations, and leave the ad sales up to the host/producer. However, we do tell clients we will point them in the right direction for sales help. And if they reach a .1 national rating, we'll refer them to the syndication ad agencies (for better or worse.) Mean time, here are the places we point clients to, so they can get their own sales help...

The first place to look is your local small radio stations. Use fax / email / phone to let their salespeople know you are looking for some full-commission part-time sales help. Offer at least 25 percent commission, and let them work on their own time and at their own location. Give them leads if you have them, but generally, they should be ready to start, using their own resources, if you convince them they can make money with your show..

Local radio salespeople are great because they are already in contact with prospective sponsors in your area (they also know how to find regional ones), and they are familiar with all local radio stations and shows... maybe even yours. Approaching the top sales people (or anyone at large stations), however, won't help because those folks are making two to ten times what they could with your show. Stick with the smaller stations, and the newer and younger salespeople at those stations, for your first try; they are not making a very good living yet, and they are always looking for other opportunities. After these folks are making some money for you, you'll have a story to convince better salespeople to try you next.

One issue that will surface will be conflicts of interest. The salesperson, if currently employed by a station, either will be or won't be allowed to sell for non-competing syndicated shows. If they are not allowed to, but the person still wants to, it will be up to you if you still want to go this route. Of course, if the person is no longer employed at any station, you are home free.

As for other places to look for help, I'd only try them if you totally run out of radio sales folks. Non-radio sales people are going to have a learning curve of several weeks if not months, and since they are getting no base pay, they may quit before they do anything for you. Nevertheless, you can try some of these:

o Newspaper salespeople, especially classifieds salespeople. Newspaper is radio's number one local competitor, and most newspaper salespeople have dealt with radio competition quite a bit.

o Local cable TV sales people. They are good because they know the broadcast model, and they usually are not wealthy.

o Telemarketers. This can be tricky, but they are good because they are accustomed to spending so much time on the phone. Maybe they can just use the phone to arrange for you to meet the prospects, and you can close the deals yourself.

o Waiters/Waitresses. Don't laugh. The good ones have high energy, and they can think on their feet (ha!); they know how to handle a lot of people, and they know how to upsell... all the traits you need. Plus, they always need more money, they rarely spend 40 hour/week at the restaurant, and they are always looking for a way to "get out". This means they are available. And finally, they are practically full-commission already, since most of their money comes tips.

Don't bother with broadcast TV people, because they make too much money and they look down on radio. Also, don't bother with retail or car salespeople, since they are used to people coming to them. And finally, don't bother with non-salespeople... they won't get anywhere selling your show.

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