Package Selling – Good or Bad?

Package selling has been a staple of the Radio advertising business for many years. Package selling can facilitate the selling process and put money on the books quickly because packages are easier for the advertiser and the sales person to understand than trying to build a proposal from scratch.

But package selling has developed a bad rap over the years for one reason and one reason only, Radio sales people have been selling a lot of bad packages. Selling bad packages is a bad idea. But selling good packages is a good idea.

A bad package is focused on the Radio station’s interests.

A bad package uses lots of Radio station sizzle to attract an advertiser’s interest. The schedule of commercials is often at the Radio station’s discretion, in time slots that have low demand and often lacks a balance of both reach and frequency.

A bad package is often a short term schedule with a promotion designed to drive traffic to the advertiser’s location. This type of package seduces the advertiser into doing a sale, an event or what is better known as, Call to Action advertising. That’s where most of the problems with package selling begins.

Call to Action advertising requires more reach and frequency than most Radio station packages can provide. Good Call to Action advertising requires a large investment across many different media. Call to Action advertising requires an extremely attractive offer from the business owner. A ten percent discount isn’t going to motivate the consumers who hear the adverting.

Call to Action advertising is a cash flow driven strategy. It is not a profit margin driven strategy. It is often a matter of last resort. The business owner realizes that they must move the inventory at all costs. Most local business owners are not prepared to make that kind of investment in advertising or to reduce their profit margins to zero.

Selling a package with the implication to the business owner to do a sale or a special is the leading cause to the dreaded response, “I tried Radio once and it didn’t work.”

Selling bad packages is a labor intensive, time consuming way to build a career in Radio sales. Selling good packages is a wonderful way to build up a base of satisfied long term direct customers that don’t take up a lot of your time with reselling and copy changes.

Sales people who object to package selling, those that insist that each Radio customer’s schedule should be custom build to fit the customer’s needs are only partially correct. An examination of thousands of Radio advertising contracts reveals that many sales people actually have a pattern of using one or two scheduling techniques for all of the contracts. They are essentially selling two kinds of packages. They have developed their own Package A and Package B that they use as a building block to build their so-called customized proposal.

Another observation from the research indicates that sales people who insist on creating customized schedules are simply looking for a way to develop a proposal that matches the prospect’s budget instead of making a sound advertising recommendation. Trying to fit into a budget in many cases has a negative impact on either reach or frequency and sometimes both.

Sales people who don’t like package selling and insist on customizing each proposal will often call their customized proposal a package anyway when presenting it to the client.

The overwhelming body of Radio sales history strongly indicates that selling good packages is the key to a successful Radio career and the leading way for you to build an account list of satisfied repeat customers.

A good package is focused on the client’s best interests.

A good package focuses on the fundamentals of good advertising like the Four Keys to Advertising Success. A good package utilizes the benefits of consistency, making a plan and sticking to it. The schedule of commercials is designed to achieve a balance of reach and frequency. And by all means, any good advertising proposal must have an emotionally compelling creative message.

The key to good package selling is the basic weekly schedule of advertising. The weekly advertising schedule is the building block for your packages. Once you decide on the weekly schedule, the basic building block, then you can build your proposal from the ground up by deciding how many weeks and how many building blocks to use each week. When you have basic packages, you can use the stacked packaging technique to build almost any kind of a package.

Effective Radio schedules usually fit into one of three strategies, own a week, own a day or own a day part. The goal of each strategy is to schedule the appropriate number of commercials to achieve a balance of both reach and frequency within the given time frame. The available advertising budget dictates which level to use.

To own a week, you must develop a schedule of commercials across all days and day parts to achieve the best balance of reach and frequency. The Optimum Effective Scheduling technique is a scientifically proven scheduling method that reaches 46% of a Radio station’s audience at least three or more times in a week.

You can also use the Optimum Effective Scheduling technique on more narrow time segments like a day or a day part. The schedule will still reach 46% of the station’s audience three or more times, but the size of the audience reached by the schedule is limited to the size of the audience for the selected time slot, the day or the day part chosen.

Once you determined the Optimum Effective Schedule for a week, for all of your standard day parts and for the individual days of the week, you now have the building blocks to build good packages for all of your proposals. Using these building blocks you will always be recommending a schedule with the proper balance between reach and frequency. Every one of your proposals will be based on Optimum Effectiveness.

Don’t worry if your Radio station is not a subscriber to the Ratings and you can’t calculate the Optimum Effective Schedule for your Radio station. You could consider the following suggested schedules.

  • Own a Week – 35 commercials per week, one in every time slot, every day of the week.
  • Own a Day – One commercial every hour.
  • Own a Day Part – One every hour in the day part, five days a week.

One of the biggest benefits of being consistent is that both your reach and your frequency will grow over time. Choosing one of these scheduling strategies and then using it consistently over the next 12 months is a solid strategy because consistency will correct any inadequacies in reach and frequency.

Let’s examine the effects of consistency on reach and frequency using the Own a Week package strategy. Your first recommendation is always a consistent weekly schedule, the same package week after week for 52 straight weeks. If the cost of scheduling the weekly package every week is more than your prospect can spend, you have two options. The first, and not the recommended strategy is to cut the package in half and run that schedule for 52 straight weeks. The second, and my recommendation, is to keep the weekly package intact and run that package every other week for the next 12 months.

Using reach and frequency software you can see that cutting the weekly package in half grows the annual reach and frequency more slowly than scheduling the commercials every other week.

If your customer wants more frequency more quickly, you can recommend an additional weekly schedule, double up for a week. The reach curve will not increase much because the number of commercials in the basic weekly package is already at the optimum reach. Running two weekly packages at the same time will increase the frequency.

Most stations that have an Own a Day package use differential pricing for days earlier in the week. In other words, the Own a Day package may have the highest prices on Friday and Saturday if the demand warrants. With the Own a Day package you can offer your customer Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday at three different pricing levels. Or you can offer them Thursday, Friday and Saturday with the pricing increasing each day.

The Own a Day Part package is based on a schedule of commercials in a given day part every day of the week. Many stations will have differential pricing on the different Own a Day Part packages because morning drive advertising is often priced higher than other day parts. You would have a minimum of five day part packages, one for each of the day parts throughout the day including midnight to 6:00 a.m.

Own a Day Part packages are perfect for stacked packaging. You can propose a morning drive package with an afternoon package. Perhaps you want to propose a double Own a Day Part package in mid days.

With the stacked packaging strategy, you could propose an Own a Day Part package in both morning and afternoon drive throughout the year and then when the advertiser wants extra frequency for a sale or promotion, you could then stack on an Own a Day package on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Give your packages names. Perhaps combining two Own a Day packages, one for Friday and one for Saturday into one package could be called a Blitz package. Adding Wednesday and Thursday to your Friday and Saturday package could then be called a Blast package. Adding Monday and Tuesday to the other four days could be called a Bonanza package. Pretty soon your customers will be asking you for the packages by name.

Remember, your time is your most valuable non-renewable resource. You must optimize your time to get 30 or more active customers on the air every month to really make a comfortable living in Radio advertising sales. You can’t make a living selling bar remotes and value added packages. Building solid packages based on Optimum Scheduling fundamentals will make your job a lot easier.

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