If you are a salesperson you may have many questions about how to help your advertisers navigate their next steps. For managers, thoughts about how to oversee your sales team while working remotely are sure to arise. We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help prepare you to support your advertisers and sales team during a crisis.
Which industries should I be targeting when calling on advertisers right now?
When considering the industries to target in the era of COVID-19, think about your daily needs and how those relate to a broader spectrum of consumers, and then compare that to your clients’ services. Businesses that have adjusted their operations and are set up to sell now, offering products and services that people need in their daily lives, are primed for both radio and digital ad campaigns. Just because there are less people commuting to work doesn’t mean a lower number of people are being reached by radio. AM/FM radio is still reaching nine out of 10 people per week and the work from home crowd continues to stream their favorite stations. As far as digital goes, according to Comscore, as people are staying at home, retailers in industries such as consumer-packaged goods (grocery/food/cleaning products), home furnishings (home office) and electronics (smart TVs/gaming consoles) have seen a jump in online traffic in recent weeks. Home improvement, health care and online education are generating solid leads right now too. Inside Radio recently offered up some additional industry suggestions that may be helpful, as well as strategies on how to work those into ad campaigns. Some of the possibilities they shared include insurance, banks, political, recreation and restaurants. Advertisers are still out there; you just need to know where to look and be armed with ideas on how to help them reach their consumer base.
Which advertising products should I be selling right now?
Display, video, over-the-top (OTT), search engine marketing (SEM), email marketing, mobile messaging – SMS and geofencing are all ad types that can currently benefit advertisers and they should be working in tandem with broadcast spots. If a business is in position to make sales and get products in the hands of consumers, let those potential customers know about it. As people stay at home, online media consumption is up. Video advertisements that show up when people stream news reports, or OTT ads that appear when they are watching their favorite TV shows online, can grab their attention while they are a captive audience. Don’t forget about location-based advertising tactics like geofencing. Now, more than ever, advertisers know exactly where people are spending most of their time. Regardless of lifestyle, customers are in their homes. Local advertisers in particular are in a position to target people while they know exactly where they are spending most of their time, gaining business if they can get products and services in people’s hands right now without making them wait.
What kind of strategy should I be suggesting to clients?
Advertisers are advised to choose one of two paths right now based on how their business is operating during the COVID-19 outbreak. Is the advertiser in a position to make sales right now and able to focus on a conversion-based campaign? Or is it more realistic for them to take a brand awareness approach because the business model does not allow for their goods or services to be available to consumers in the current climate?
Brand awareness: Use digital and broadcast advertising to build brand awareness campaigns that reach people right now while they’re at home consuming media. When things open back up again, they’ll be top of mind for consumers and more profitable early on.
Here are some suggestions on how to incorporate certain digital advertising products when taking a brand awareness approach:
- Display: Target an audience with banner ads that reinforce the advertiser’s brand so that those goods or services stick in the minds of consumers.
- Video: Captivate people and create an immediate visual connection while they are at home consuming more media.
- OTT: As subscriptions increase and people install more internet-connected devices in their homes, solidify the brand with commercials.
- Geofencing with past locations, also known as geocookie: Reach people at home while reminding them that local businesses that they once visited will be ready for them to walk through the door once COVID-19 is a distant memory.
Conversion-focused: Work with advertisers who are able to make sales right now in the current environment to reach consumers in need of goods and services with digital and radio campaigns. Show consumers that the advertiser has adapted to the current climate and can deliver products in new ways during this time of need.
Here are some suggestions on how to incorporate certain digital advertising products when an advertiser is able to make sales right now:
- Display: Reach an audience with banner ads that relay the advertiser’s message that they can supply consumers with goods or services despite current restrictions.
- Video: Show people with visual advertising that a business can deliver products today when people need them.
- Geofencing with past locations: Target neighborhoods where people live with location-based ads reminding them that their favorite restaurant is still an option with pickup or delivery service.
- Search engine marketing (SEM): Let consumers know while they are searching in their time of need that a business has altered its operation to meet customers’ needs within current restrictions.
As a sales professional, should I be offering advertisers reduced rates?
Consider offering reduced rates when possible without digging too far into your margins, but also consider asking for something in return. For example, think about offering a discount in exchange for a long-term commitment on a campaign. There could also be opportunities to get in on business that you have not traditionally won. Example – “Right now, I can offer your usual advertising product choice, plus the opportunity to try an ad product you have never purchased from my company before, bundled together for a reduced price.”
Should we as a department change sales compensation during this period?
If you are contemplating a change to the compensation plan to offset broadcast and digital cancellations, make it a goal to decide on a path and announce it as soon as possible. Your entire team is most likely uneasy about their pay over the next few months. The sooner they know, the sooner they will be able to make a personal plan and understand what they need to sell in order to offset any decrease in income. Try setting a plan for this quarter with a commitment to revisit it in May prior to the start of third quarter.
What is a good way to maintain contact with my clients during this time?
Don’t forget that this is an unusual time for everyone, and we could all use something to look forward to. When it comes to clients, don’t make it all about business. Is there a usual coffee spot that you and your client meet at? Consider sending a coffee shop gift card with an optimistic note looking forward to your next meeting. Don’t forget that your customers are also looking for good news or insights to help guide their decision-making. Try doing some research that could benefit your top three accounts to guide their advertising or entice them to return to advertising.
What kind of messaging should be included in a campaign’s creative?
Make sure consumers know if a business has adapted to meet their needs. Be very specific about how a product or service is available and put it in the creative messaging, clearly calling out that information so people have it readily available. Communicate important information, such as changing store hours, how to order items for pickup and delivery and what the business is doing to help limit the spread of the virus. Consider including a tone in both broadcast and digital campaigns that reflects empathy and understanding, while ensuring the ad contains a clear takeaway for consumers. If the business is closed let people know that advertiser is sympathetic to the current situation people find themselves in, and that once things return to normal, customers can find the same great products and service they have grown accustomed to receiving from that business.
How are sales teams prospecting for new business?
“Back-to-business” cross-media packages are popular right now while maximizing on the rise in consumption of online media. As with many new business initiatives, hold a kick-off meeting for it and turn one of those Zoom meetings into a prospecting party for your next sales blitz. In addition, consider going after new clients in industries that are seeing a jump in consumer demand during the COVID-19 crisis. For example, finance, education, government services and consumer-packaged goods are at the top of the list in terms of industries that are currently submitting advertising orders. Reach out to businesses in these industries and explain how you can connect them with people who are actively searching for them because their services and products are in demand.
How should we handle sales objections during COVID-19?
Despite public health mandates, advertisers are still able to connect with potential and existing customers. Recent numbers from business data specialists at Statista show that people are consuming more media as they spend more time in front of screens. Advertisers should be advised to take advantage of the number of eyes and ears that are set on news and entertainment sources right now. The digital ad tactics listed above in the suggestions for brand awareness and conversion-based campaigns apply here (see “What kind of strategy should I be suggesting to clients?”). Don’t forget to pair these with broadcast advertising as well so that the advertiser’s message is reinforced by enabling digital and radio to work together. Remember, just because people are not commuting to work in their vehicles, doesn’t mean they aren’t being reached by radio. In fact, as pointed out in the answer to the next question, individuals working from home are still consistently being reached by AM/FM radio and station apps. Right now, it’s critical to stay on the minds of consumers for when the business climate returns to normal, or to let them know that a business is in a position to meet their needs immediately with products or services. There are just as many customers who are seeing ad campaigns right now, and they are seeing them at an increased rate due to the rise in media consumption.
My customers say no one is listening to the radio because people are not commuting in their vehicles right now, how should I respond?
While the amount of car trips may be down on average in most U.S. cities, a recent report published by Inside Radio points to data that suggests radio is still a great way to reach people even when they are working from home. The data indicates that 90% of people who always or mostly work from home are reached each week by AM/FM radio. In addition, 24% of people who work from home say they have visited a station website or app in the past 30 days, this compared to 19% of the general U.S. population. The stats are topped off with research that shows people who listen to radio while at home listen longer than the average person in the U.S. by one quarter hour per week. While it may initially seem logical to assume that less people are being reached by radio during the COVID-19 outbreak, a deeper look at the numbers tells a different tale.
How do I discourage auto dealerships from cancelling ad campaigns?
Even though dealers may not be selling as many vehicles as they normally would, service is still necessary for people who have vehicles. A common perception amongst customers is that service from a dealership is more expensive than service elsewhere. Try suggesting to the dealer that they offer a real value and articulate the premium of the value (we’ll pick up your car, wash it, etc.) or offer a special that covers necessary routine maintenance. Added value coupled with a message of understanding can go a long way toward maintaining an existing customer base and attracting new business.
Is it a good idea to shift geofences to target the few public places people are visiting right now? What about neighborhoods?
Yes, it is advised to shift targeted areas for geofencing campaigns right now because people are spending less time in public. Think about where the target audience is gathering. Right now, the list is narrow and primarily includes neighborhoods and businesses that sell essential items. In some cases, advertisers across a diverse landscape of industries are shifting their geofencing campaigns to target grocery and liquor stores as people continue to visit these businesses amid social restrictions. Law offices, real estate agents, tax services and mental health clinics are just a few examples of advertisers that have seen deliverable impressions and click- through rates rise after tweaking their campaigns to target grocery and liquor stores as foot traffic remains consistent in those areas.