To prepare for a possible recession, 86% of radio sales executives surveyed by Futuri said they are training their sales staff to sell digitally more effectively. In addition, 57% said they teach their sales staff to sell other high-growth platforms. And 43% said they are training their ad sellers to sell podcasting and on-demand audio more effectively, while a third said they are trying to retain longer-term deals with clients, and 24% have started hiring more members of the sales support team.
These are among the results of a survey of 120 radio sales executives conducted July 22-August 4 by Futuri.
The survey also asked radio sales executives whether they personally expect to see a recession-level economic slowdown within the next two years. By a wide majority, 84% said they do, while only 16% said they don’t. “Recession level” is defined as a decline in national gross domestic product for two consecutive quarters. All of those who said they don’t expect that to happen said they think there will be an economic downturn, but it won’t quite rise to the level of a recession.
More than four in ten of those who expect a recession expect it to begin within six months, 21% expect it to happen within three months and 12% expect it to happen within 12 months. Just under one in four (24%) say we are already in a recession.
Among station clients already responding to or planning for an economic downturn, the survey showed a range of responses: Nearly half (48%) said their clients are making decisions closer to the ad buy, 44% indicated they were making cuts to their overall buyer, said 28% that they have not seen any meaningful response from customers and 6% said that customers are demanding lower prices.
Presenting the findings during a recent webinar, Futuri executives suggested ways to turn a crisis into success and proactively prepare for a recession. Dave Russell, a national account manager at Futuri and a former account manager for Cox Media Group in Orlando, said the results present radio marketers with a double whammy. “If your customers’ business takes a hit, they’re going to be even more cost-conscious than usual and require a data-driven story to justify the purchase. And at the same time, you’re going to have less time than usual to assemble that purchase.” He suggested that sales managers need a marriage of speed and the ability to develop “the strongest possible story for your brand.”
In tough times, it’s more important than ever to be a true marketing partner to customers, said Jim Tarrantine, who leads the team for Topline, Futuri’s sales enablement system. “Remember, customers are making decisions closer to the purchase and they’re buying more digitally, which is arguably easier to buy and adjust quickly than spots or other traditional radio campaigns,” Tarrantine told webinar attendees. “That’s one of the reasons there’s never been a better time to ensure you and your teams are effectively selling your high-growth platforms.”
Tarrantine said embracing digital creates “a huge net positive” for the station’s brand. “In addition to securing the digital buys, it gives you the ability to reuse your brand across all the platforms your audience uses if you really stay on the channel — not just a radio station that has all these different brand extensions or things to sell. It deepens engagement and creates a lucrative digital inventory that your advertisers want.”
Futuri’s webinar also identified categories that are likely to be “recession-proof” or even grow as the nation heads into an economic downturn. They include healthcare, auto repair and maintenance, recruitment, budget travel, home improvement and DIY, discount stores, financial services, bulk stores and groceries.
Watch an on-demand replay of the webinar HERE.