The last year has been challenging for almost every industry and economy. Many businesses had shutdowns and/or severe limitations to their ability to generate revenue. In discussions with broadcasters across the country, the common theme is the struggle to hold onto booked revenue and annual buys with varying degrees of success. Account executives are pivoting their focus from prospecting new advertisers to saving schedules already on the books. The loss isn’t just financial; it is also the forfeiture of countless hours collaborating with advertisers and agencies, promotions, programming and sales management. So, how can you stop cancellations during a crisis?


Radio Can Rise to the Task

Radio remains the ONLY mass-reach broadcast medium that is hyper-local every hour of the day. During times of crisis, our community turns to us and needs us. We are their source for news, the voice of calm, the trusted friend that provides local information and entertainment to combat the stress and uncertainty of our environment.

Now is the time to remind advertisers of radio’s power. Give advertisers the tools they need (radio and digital assets) to pivot advertising messages to targeted audiences that will move the needle within any marketplace and in any economy.


Why Companies Shouldn’t Stop Advertising

Brad Adgate wrote a great article published in Forbes, “When a Recession Comes, Don’t Stop Advertising,” and there are powerful lessons in it.

One of the many points Brad makes is, “The noise level in a brand’s product category can drop when competitors cut back on their ad spend. It also allows for advertisers to re-position a brand or introduce a new product.” He goes on to say, “When marketers cut back on their ad spending, the brand loses its ‘share of mind’ with consumers, with the potential of losing current — and possibly future — sales. An increase in share of voice typically leads to an increase in share of market. An increase in market share results, with an increase in profits.”

Great ideas, coupled with the best vehicles to deliver them to the market, can help stave off cancellations and provide real results for your advertisers.


How Can You Convey This to Advertisers to Stop Cancellations?

Trying to convey this to advertisers isn’t always easy. Marketron SVP of Sales, Todd Kalman, shared a hypothetical example of what approach to take.

In this example, the client is Paige’s Longbranch Bar. It’s a locally owned establishment that only serves pitchers of beer and Tombstone Pizza. They are “canceling the year” because of COVID-19, and they are unable to offer take-out. Below is a sample script of how this conversation can go.

AE: Paige, while I can certainly understand your concern, you have been advertising with our station for eight years, and we are here to help. I have an idea that I believe will make you stronger as we come out of this crisis.

Paige: I appreciate the offer, but we are closed! What could I possibly advertise?

AE: I know that the local food pantry is hurting. How about some copy that runs like this: “While COVID-19 took some of the simple pleasures in life away from us, the employees of Paige’s Longbranch Bar want to remind you that those good times will return. Our family can’t wait to see your smiling faces and know it won’t be too long until we do. In the meantime, we recognize there are people in our community struggling to put food on their table. That’s why we have donated the rest of this commercial to our local food bank. Please consider helping however you can. Find out more ways to help on our website.”

We can offer up additional inventory at no charge to run your spot in addition to your current schedule to promote your message further.

Paige also owns the local Chevy Dealership and is canceling its schedule because the dealership can’t provide test drives, and business declined rapidly.

AE: Paige, last month, when we spoke, business was good, and you were happy with your return on investment. Paige’s Chevy has been the volume leader in the marketplace, and part of this success has been your brand’s voice heard on our station assets. By keeping your current on-air schedule and the digital campaign we have in place, we will continue to reach the right people with the right message. The decision to buy a car isn’t an impulse decision; it’s one considered over time. While the dealership isn’t operating as normal, I promise you that searches for cars online will continue to happen. People will still dream of owning the new Corvette, Blaze or Silverado. Paige’s Chevrolet will be back to regular business soon, and you need to have customers ready to go. Rather than cancel the annual campaign, let’s shift the creative for the next 30 days to something uplifting that helps the community. 

At the same time, let’s make sure the campaign will drive activity immediately when we’re back to normal. We can then resume the original campaign. To help, we will give you the next 30 days at a 50% discount.

We should shift your creative with some copy that conveys this message: “Paige’s Chevrolet will deliver a car to your driveway completely sanitized, wait two days to make 100% sure you’re happy with the vehicle, and then it’s yours. We can do all the paperwork by phone and online. We have additional specials from Chevy that make this the best possible time to buy or lease a new vehicle.”


Another approach:

Instead of canceling, how about we shift 20% of your annual investment to a digital display campaign since people are spending more time online? We will spike activity with an additional promotion. We will “drive” people online to register to have our station Easter Bunny drop off one of our Easter baskets to lucky winners and their children! The Easter baskets could contain candy, prizes, etc. We’ll deliver them to the lucky winners’ houses in one of Paige’s new Silverados, for which someone could also win a lease. 

We also want to recognize the children who can’t be with their families because they are under the care of Children’s Hospital. That’s why Paige’s Chevrolet, along with our station, teamed up to create Operation Easter Basket to make sure every child at Children’s Hospital receives their own basket, and you can help! Simply visit Paige Chevrolet’s website and donate, or schedule an oil change during May, and we’ll donate 25% of all proceeds to Operation Easter Basket!

Paige: These are great! Let’s do this!


Cancellations Are Fear-Driven

In any crisis, cancellations are a knee-jerk response and come from fear. With the right approach and assurances, you can stop cancellations and offer peace of mind. The right mix of radio and digital advertising can put you in a position to save the business and support your advertisers.