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SYNDICATION 101... Converting Your Show to a Per-Inquiry, Part 1

Some radio shows (mostly those that started out brokered) are too much "infomercial" to have a good chance at barter syndication. This is because these shows were originally created to sell a product or service; since many of these shows well work on the original (purchased) station, the hosts may want to spread the show to other stations. The hosts run into a problem, however, when they find that the only people who want to talk with them are block-time salespeople from other broker-able stations.

This is due to two reasons... first, syndication is just plain tough, period. Second, almost every show that is created to effectively sell a product or service is going to be too "pushy" to be accepted by other stations on a barter basis (the stations will feel they are airing an infomercial and not getting paid for it.) So the hosts feel stuck... they don't want to buy time on other stations, but they can't get anyone to take their show for free.

Enter the per-inquiry (P.I.) show. There are two forms of a PI... a per-inquiry, and a per-sale. A PI show is basically a commercial that is aired for free by stations, whereby the stations get paid when people "inquire" about your product or service, or, when people "buy" your product or service. You might think that the second situation would be called "P.S." for "per-sale", but that would cause too much confusion; so both of them are just called PI's.

Radio commercials, overall, are either "spots" (30 or 60 seconds), or "short form" direct response infomercials (1.5 minutes to 3 minutes), or "long-form" direct response infomercials (30 minutes or more). Your current show is probably 30 or 60 minutes, and since we are presuming you are doing it to sell your product or service (and not just to sell advertising), it is by definition is a long-form direct-response infomercial. And this is the reason that stations don't want to talk with you... they don't give away the time for these things for free.... they sell it.

And that's how PI's bridge the gap between you and the stations; you get your show (commercial) on for free, and the stations get paid later... after the inquires or sales start occurring.

Why, you may ask, don't all commercials work this way? Why would anyone pay in advance to air commercials when they could do a PI instead? Answer: Nobody would get anywhere, because PI's have a bad reputation. First, PI's shift the risk from the advertiser (you) to the station. With pre-paid commercials (like you are doing now with your brokered time), the station benefits whether you sell anything or not. With PI's, you benefit by getting your show on the air
whether the station gets paid or not. Plus, many people have tried PI's in the past, and they got on many stations but NEVER paid the stations after the inquires or sales started happening. So, the pre-paid commercial or show (i.e., a non-PI) is going to win every time... it's going to go on when it's supposed to, where it's supposed to, and it's going to air as many times as it's supposed to. This is how it must be for products/services that absolutely must have promotion going or else they will fold.

Your product or service, however, is either just starting out or is being supported elsewhere, and you are just now exploring the idea of a radio show to push it. Thus, you don't HAVE to be on in a particular market at a particular time. Anytime/anywhere you can get on is a bonus, and that's exactly how PI's operate. Next time we'll cover more details about PI's.

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