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SYNDICATION 101... Bartering vs. Brokering, Part 3

COST COMPARISON: The cost of brokering is high, but most people think they understand and can justify it. The cost of bartering is low, but it is harder to understand because it is woven into many different marketing areas. Using the restaurant analogy, brokering is simply to pay people to come in and eat; it's easy to do, but tough to make money with. Bartering, however, is to put signs out front, run ads in papers, give away samples, try to get reviewed, and cater parties and meetings, etc. All normal stuff which takes time and energy, and several months at the least. But if you absolutely had to have everyone visit your restaurant in the first few HOURS of your grand opening, then yes you could pay people to come in and eat.

The cost of brokering starts with the cost of the stations and/or the network. With a network, you will then need someone on the phones to try to get your show approved on each affiliate (network salespeople may let you believe that you will automatically get on all their stations immediately,) and also to get affidavits, and even to set up station activities with your host. A network will usually do none of this for you. And whether you are brokering individual stations or a network, you will also need a salesperson to sell your network spots. If you have not sold radio time before, you probably won't be able to do it yourself (although most people that have never done so will think that they can.)

Individually brokered stations go for $100 to $3000 per hour, and networks go for $300 to $10,000 per week. Add-in your cost of affiliate relations and sales support people (one to five full-time people), and you have a rough total cost.

The cost of bartering, however, is mainly your syndication promotion staff, which is part of your affiliate relations team. Syndication promoters have one job: Get new stations. And since they (and you) are not paying the stations to take the show, it requires a lot of phone calls and faxes (working in conjunction with the host) to get each individual station to believe that the show will be a hit, and that the show will make money locally because of the sales help they are going to be getting from you.

A second cost of bartering is trade support... ads in the radio trade magazines; Ads will (1) Show the stations what is going on with your show, (2) Be seen by other stations that you cannot directly promote to, (3) Show that you are serious about your show, and (4) greatly increase your chances of getting editorial.

The third cost of bartering is sales support after the stations have signed on. The stations have to be given direction and contacts for selling local ads that will be placed into your show. True, a station already has its own salespeople, but if a show like yours would be such an easy sell to their local prospects, the station would have created a show like it on its own (all they would have to do is hire a host.) So, you have to call the station's salespeople and provide tactics and angles (and preferably names and phone numbers) for them to get the local ad sales. Ultimately, your sales support person (or your host) could travel to the stations to meet with the station salespeople and their prospects. Done properly, the stations would end up with new ad contracts. Your syndication promoter may be able to help you with these sales support activities, although it does takes time away from clearing new stations.

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