Taking the plunge into digital advertising is a big step for broadcasters that previously relied on traditional revenue streams. To compete effectively with pure-play digital agencies or media companies, you need to adopt and then follow through on a carefully thought-out strategy. The path to a digital inventory is fraught with challenges, all of which you can overcome with the right leadership, product mix and internal operations structure. In this journey, you’re likely to encounter some initial digital transformation pitfalls.

These pitfalls can occur when designing your digital advertising vision, preparing for change and creating the best mix of digital products and the workflows to support them. We’ll also look at pitfalls that could keep all that careful planning from paying off once it’s time to mobilize your team and launch your digital game plan.


Pitfall #1: Not Getting Top-Down Buy-In

Did you know that 75% of all organizational change initiatives fail? One of the biggest reasons is that leaders don’t take a strong stake in the transformation. Leaders who set a clear vision at the outset will have the best chance at digital revenue success.

So, how do leaders provide that vision? They do so by educating themselves about the change, which shows they’re committed to involvement at all levels. They can also avoid this digital transformation pitfall by establishing common goals that break down silos and encourage programming, marketing, operations and sales teams to collaborate. They also empower employees with the new skills they need to work with digital inventories, operate in the new workflows and institute new processes.


Pitfall #2: Selecting the Wrong Digital Product Suite

Without the right mix of your owned and operated digital product inventory and partnering with a third party, a successful digital transformation will be hard to execute. Creating a digital product suite also means taking care when evaluating the integrity of inventory, developing assets, conducting sales training and delivering margin.

By necessity, ordering and executing third-party digital inventory creates a workflow between broadcasters and an outside team of people. Salespeople need to have resources and tools to manage the order process with vendors and advertiser expectations. In addition, broadcasters will need to expand their traffic systems to include the digital products and create a seamless connection with the third-party system to coordinate orders, deliveries and invoicing.



Pitfall #3: Failing to Develop Digital Workflows

Executing digital advertising campaigns requires a different workflow, and it can only be successful when everyone has clear responsibilities. Don’t make the mistake of handing digital execution responsibilities to a single support person; effective delivery to advertisers will require support from each department.

For legacy teams, understanding digital campaign reporting can be a whole new ballgame. Many salespeople might need convincing of the effectiveness and time savings of following outlined digital proposal and recap processes. Streamlining these processes will require training, experience and engagement by sales managers to ensure sales teams adopt the new expectations.

Since the execution of digital campaigns requires more detail, management by email is a ticket to poor delivery, internal conflict and employee burnout. Therefore, an effective project management system will be a critical element for helping sales and support staff work together to ensure concise and error-free execution.



Pitfall #4: Creating Ambiguity by Not Refining Org Charts and Job Expectations

Motivating teams to adopt new ways of working can’t happen until staff members understand their roles and responsibilities. Ambiguity is a common digital transformation pitfall. Sales managers steeped in legacy workflows may resist managing both broadcast and digital sales activity, instead looking to direct reports to possess the digital expertise for them. However, to be successful, sales managers need to be as knowledgeable as their sellers are.

Sales support employees need digital knowledge and strong project management skills. Current support employees with ambition will welcome the opportunity to grow. Still, some organizations and teams may have a hard time respecting these evolved positions.

Of course, figuring out how to effectively train your organization and test for knowledge is crucial, keeping in mind that adults learn best by doing. You’ll need to develop or have access to an ongoing training curriculum that can keep up with the constantly evolving digital media industry.



Pitfall #5: Not Preparing for Post-Launch to Maintain Momentum

Managing and motivating the sales team doesn’t stop once you launch your digital advertising program. Adding digital inventory requires teams to learn new skills, operate new workflows and institute new processes. It’s a tall order for sales teams used to doing things a certain way. So, be prepared for about 15% of your employees to resist and possibly even undermine the new processes. Those employees could fall short with their own performance and affect others who are agnostic to change. The faster you can manage resistant employees’ behavior, the faster your entire organization will adapt.

This resistance to change might manifest itself through legacy, seasoned sellers reluctant to take digital opportunities to their biggest customers. Perhaps they’re afraid the new offerings will cannibalize the customer’s traditional radio business. To counter this, prepare your managers on how to approach the issue, and ensure they closely monitor the strategic account plans for current advertisers.

As your team members get comfortable with digital advertising sales, the new workflow, processes and product mix they created will need fine-tuning. If your team can use “bugs” as an excuse not to change, your digital action plan will break. Leaders must establish a culture to identify “bugs” and fix them fast, and then celebrate the fix.



Pitfall #6: Not Tracking Performance or Removing Roadblocks

Effective performance tracking requires a robust, real-time performance dashboard with multiple data sources, but this shouldn’t require high-level technology development skills. It does require coordination between finance teams, sales teams and a tech-savvy employee who can manage the dashboard technology. Expect dashboard creation to take several iterations before you get it right.

Data is the driving force behind business growth today, and making company performance data transparent will develop a culture of action in your organization. Keep in mind, however, that legacy broadcast employees may not be comfortable having their performance showcased to others. Managers may need to address these emotions and set new expectations.

Finally, it’s critical to create a culture receptive to feedback. Broadcast radio hasn’t really changed substantially in 50 years. Many legacy broadcasters haven’t evolved their business operations in such a fundamental way. Therefore, it’s understandable that moving to include digital advertising is a huge change for veteran sales professionals. They are likely unfamiliar with debriefing meetings and constructive feedback on using new processes. To make employees more receptive to feedback, leaders should demonstrate how it can lead to real organizational improvements and increased revenue generation for the company and the sellers.


Avoid Digital Transformation Pitfalls: Be Ready for Success

Digital transformation pitfalls can befall any organization. There’s no perfect science to the process, but you can build toward the future with the right strategy. Avoid these common challenges by heeding this practical advice.


Check out the Digital Transformation Playbook, and let Marketron help you navigate your team’s digital advertising journey to ensure it’s a ringing success!