Screening Sales Promotions

Use a simple screening process for all proposed sales promotions before signing off. Ask these questions:

  1. What’s planned? Keep a large promotional calendar in a visible location and note all station promotions, contests, and special events. Don’t over-commit.
  1. How do you lock up ad budgets? Forward thinking. Don’t wait until an opportunity presents itself to pitch a strategic promotion that requires a client partner. Create your Independence Day promotions in April/May and get client commitments.
  1. What’s fair? When a client presents a one-sided promotional idea, find the common ground that meets the client’s needs yet still benefits the station.

Preparation is key, and follow-up can be just as important.  How did it work? Most promotions are presented in writing, so logically, they should be followed up in the same way. Review every promotion to ensure that the client and the station delivered everything promised and that you both walk away from it as satisfied winners.

What’s Value-Added?

Unsurprisingly, clients demand extra sales promotions in today’s business environment. Smart programmers and sales managers understand that while satisfying a client with an unimaginative promotion may quiet the client’s demands, for now, it will come back to haunt you when the dull promotion doesn’t work. Use a simple screening process for all proposed sales promotions before signing off. Ask these questions:

  1. What are the client’s goals? What aspect is most important? Who are they trying to reach with their message? Do they plan on using other media?
  1. What are your station’s goals? Every promotion needs a defined objective and should fulfill these basic “A.I.R.” needs: Audience (attracts new listeners or expands TSL), Image (complements or enhances station image), and Revenue ($).
  1. How many promos are needed? Conduct a reach-and-frequency study. Don’t just assign a random number of promos. Find out how often a promo must run to reach the target effectively. Don’t over-promise.

Making Effective Promotions

Most stations conduct ratings sweep promotions to increase audience, although PPM stations are changing how they handle on-air promotions.  How do you make programming and sales promotions more effective regardless of rating methodology?

  • Put the listener’s benefit first. You’ll get the listener’s attention by starting with what is in it for them.  Learn the difference between features and benefits: features are nice, but benefits sell.
  • Simplify the concept. If you cannot explain the promotion in a sentence or two, it’s too involved.
  • Avoid jumping through hoops. We’re reminded of a crusty old GM who said, “It’s a big prize, so I’m gonna make ‘em work for it.” Don’t ask listeners to do more than is reasonable.
  • Promote it often. Radio is a frequency medium.  Frequent impressions sell better.  Promote major promotions multiple times an hour with promos, liners, live sells, and quick name mentions.
  • Structure contests to stretch listening. Make listener appointments at specific tune-in times all day to get additional tune-ins.
  • When listeners receive prizes, include handwritten notes from the air thanking them for listening. It’s an extra touch that lasts!

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John Lund is President of the Lund Media Group, a radio programming, broadcast consulting, and research firm with specialists in all mainstream radio formats.  Leave a comment below or email him at

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