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Crimsonace, business owner: Hand out, will travel

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by crimsonace, Aug 12, 2008.

  1. crimsonace

    crimsonace Active Member

    A few years ago, I left the biz full-time -- and then got back into it part-time, switching from print to broadcast.

    For two years, we broadcast local sports in our area, but a combination of our radio station getting sold and the company that produced the broadcasts (and hired us) dialing back to another region left us hanging.

    So, two months ago, my color commentator and I formed our own company to keep what we've been starting, bought time for streaming audio, dropped a couple grand on broadcast equipment and, one week from tonight, we flip the switch for our first broadcast.

    In nine years of print journalism, I never thought I'd be in this position -- where I have a financial stake in something, with the potential of losing a thousand or so bucks ahead of things. Never thought I'd be groveling for money selling sponsorships like the ad people I used to think were Satan for wondering why we would ever write a negative story about one of their accounts.

    Anyway, as we all know, sponsorship is necessary to pay for broadcasts. We've set our rates at an almost ridiculously low rate in order to attract sponsors and make it seem like a good buy.

    Still, it's like fishing. You can put yummy bait on the hook, but sometimes, they don't bite (especially in this crappie economy).

    Compounding issues: I am about as far from a natural salesperson as possible. I feel like I'm the guy on the street corner with a cup out and a "will broadcast games for food" sign. I hate calling people asking for sponsorship $$. I hate walking into businesses and asking. I don't mind emailing them, but I'm gathering that's not the most effective way of getting people to buy in. I feel almost slimy for asking for money, even though I'm really providing people a service.

    I know this is a journo board (I'm ducking), but anyone with some sales expertise that might be able to give me some advice? Tricks of the trade? Something.

    Oh ... and if you have a customer or two you might want to reach in Central Indiana, let me know :). Rates start at $20/game :).
  2. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    A) Rule one: if you're going to cover a sport, you might want to let people know what it is you're covering.
    B) We'd buy ad time, but we've already got enough new people here, what with deadspin outing us and all with Gams McAndrews....
    C) Radio geeks are annoying -- especially when they say "we" in regard to the home team.

    Good luck to you tho!
  3. crimsonace

    crimsonace Active Member

    A. High school football. Sorry. (and probably high school hoops)
    B. Thanks. You sure? I can make you a deal :).
    C. Maybe it's the print journalist in me, but I have NEVER used the word "we" (or "they") on the air in referring to any team, nor have I ever openly rooted for a team that I am broadcasting on-air. I try to be extremely professional, assuming that I have listeners from both communities. I hope I'm not a typical small-town radio geek.
  4. old_tony

    old_tony Well-Known Member

    I love that you used the fishing analogy (yummy bait on the hook) and then called it a "crappie" economy. Please tell me that was intentional.
  5. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    C) By the end of the season, you'll be stickin pom-pons in yer hat and painting your face...
  6. crimsonace

    crimsonace Active Member

    Pun very intended.
  7. old_tony

    old_tony Well-Known Member

    :D :D :D
  8. dixiehack

    dixiehack Well-Known Member

    Start with the basics. Who advertised on your broadcasts last year? Who pays money to advertise in the stadium programs? Who would want to deliver their message to your listeners (as opposed to fans in attendance)? Approach it from the standpoint of "this is what we can deliver for you" as opposed to explaining why you need money.

    Find out who the real decision makers are for the business you target (usually the owner). Once you have that info, call and ask to speak to them directly. If the person answering asks what it is about, tell them you want to talk to Mr./Ms. Owner about their marketing program, but in general try not to give out too much info. The secretary can never say yes to you, but can always say no.

    Once you have the decision maker on the phone, briefly explain to them who you are and what you do. Ask them when you can set an appointment to come see them and talk in person about advertising.

    Most improtant, don't get discouraged by the rejections. If you can get just 10 sponsors to commit to 10 weeks of football at $20/game (seems awfully low to me), you've paid for your equipment by the time basketball starts.
  9. Dirk Legume

    Dirk Legume Active Member

    Crimson, we are in the same business. In my opinion, 20 dollars a game is ridiculously low. Businesses like to support the high school kids and will if they can. I would say 20 dollars a quarter at a minimum.

    Also, you gotta look 'em in the eye. Phone might work, email never will. They can just hit delete and never think about it again.

    You have a great product, people want to hear these broadcasts and will tune in on the computer if necessary. To many people, it's a huge deal if their kid/ grandkid gets mentioned on an actual broadcast. In fact kids on the team whose parents own businesses should be your first sales call.

    Good luck. What you're doing is the wave of the future as we move from "broadcasting" to "narrowcasting"
  10. JoelHammond

    JoelHammond Member

    crimson: I admire your guts, and it sounds like you've got a decent start. I agree with those who say that, especially being so targeted, you should do well.
  11. crimsonace

    crimsonace Active Member

    One thing we've found in this area is that high schools are selling their own corporate sponsorships, and now they see us as competition for scarce ad dollars, so we had to cut our rates really low just to get started and to get sponsors to at least think twice about working with us. Otherwise, they'll say "well, I support the local school by giving them my $500 and putting my face on the gym wall," I don't have anything left for you.

    That, and a lot of area business owners aren't too keen on webcasting yet -- they see it as "you're broadcasting, but you don't have a radio station. Who's going to listen on a computer?" (without realizing the number of students -- this is a fairly wealthy community -- who have iPhones). We're getting there. Once we get heard a little bit, I think this will sell quickly.

    Once we build a following in this area (and get on one of the two terrestrial radio stations we're talking with), which shouldn't take long, the rates will go up.

    We were on radio in the wealthiest county in Indiana, worked our @$$es off to sell a year ago, charging $75 a game (which was a discounted rate), and got three sponsors. Lost money hand over fist, got cut loose by the station, so we're starting back out.

    Marketing isn't my thing. Sales definitely isn't my thing. But I think we're at least going to raise enough to pay for the equipment this year.
  12. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    Are you doing video as well or just radio?

    Also, what are the rights on playoff games?

    You could try and get the webcast rights to the playoffs and work from there or team up with a high school message board or something to try and gain a better foothold.
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