Redefining “long-term.”

By Pat Bryson

brysson-pat“I’m not sure radio works: you’ll have to prove it to me with this week’s schedule.”
“I want to test you. I’ll agree to three months.”
“Business is too uncertain to plan my advertising 6 months in advance.”
“I never sign up for one year!”

Selling long-term advertising has always been a challenge. Clients are hesitant to agree to more than a few weeks or months. And yet, most advertising is about placing our clients’ businesses into the file drawers of our listeners’ minds. Our clients must be one of the first two or three names that comes to mind when our listeners need their products or services.

We all know (theoretically, at least) that it takes time to do this. It takes consistency, repetition and relevance. Making our clients a house-hold name does not happen in a week, a month or even a few months. In fact, noted brain researcher Evian Gordon tells us that it takes 1000 repetitions of a message to change a habit. That equates to 2.8 years if our listeners heard or saw the message one time per day.

Which leads me to believe that we need to rethink how we sell radio, TV or newspaper advertising. Instead of asking for a few weeks, months, or even a year, why not ask for THREE years? FIVE years? To create the most effective campaigns possible for our clients, we need to make sure that the campaigns are LONG ENOUGH to have impact. And, “long enough” is not a few weeks or months.

We don’t get three or five year agreements because WE DON’T ASK FOR THEM! We wimp out. We accept the crumbs from the advertising buffet because we don’t have the internal fortitude to stand our ground, explain how advertising works, and insist that it be done correctly.

When I was still managing stations, I was looking through our file of testimonial letters and realized that all of these clients were ANNUAL clients. They were able to write lovely letters telling us how well their advertising worked because they did it correctly. They gave their message time to penetrate the minds of the public.

Try asking for three to five years. Just change the end date on your campaigns. You may be surprised how often your client will say, “Yes”.

Pat Bryson is the owner of Bryson Broadcasting International, a firm that specializes in coaching and training sales and sales management. She is available to help your staff achieve its next level of expertise. The revised and expanded second edition of her book, A Road Map to Success in High Dollar Broadcast Sales, is now available on her website,