Pending Business: Howdy Partner

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp


PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — Somewhere along the line someone changed the lyrics.
Our advertisers, our customers, became “partners.” Now that’s weird.

Do our advertisers (customers) really want a partnership in the true sense of the word? Or do our advertisers want what everyone else wants: maximum value at the best price?

Supermarkets don’t call shoppers partners, yet we are regular spenders seeking value for the dollar, same with the gas station. No partners at the produce section or the gas pump, just us regular customers.

Like some of you, I’ve held various levels of partnerships in a variety of business ventures, from real estate to radio stations. Additionally, my marketing work has allowed me the roles of both ad seller and buyer.

Legal department aside, there are obvious differences between being the customer and being a partner. Partners invest funds or goods or services to share in the upside and downside of a business. Most advertisers cancel with the first sign of any downside in their advertising.

Active partners typically have a vote or voice in how the enterprise is run. Your local advertisers would prefer to focus on solving their own business problems. Partners often make valued contributions beyond monetary offerings and expertise based on experience. Anyone enjoy value added medical service from that hospital advertising with your station? Partners can often sell their shares in the enterprise once the exit ramp is in clear view. Most managers shrink at the thought of an advertiser enjoying the benefit of a heavily negotiated package, and then selling it off half way through the schedule to a different advertiser.

Someone, somewhere blurred the lines between the word “advertiser” (customer) and “partner.” Today we have the p-word in seller’s titles, presentations and sales banter. Buying and selling advertising on your radio station should offer the customer the special role of “sponsor,” which is the lifeblood of our business. I still see those local youth league sponsor plaques proudly displayed in local businesses. Where’s the radio partner plaque?

Let’s hit the pause button on overusing the partnership word. Your advertisers deserve the service, dedication, and recognition that all highly respected businesses offer their customers. Many radio stations seem to have left that excellent service in the 80s with Tom Peters.

Here are the main takeaways:

  • Calling your advertiser “partner” should never be a substitute for pro-level selling.
  • Partner doesn’t mean for life. We earn the business every day.

Sometimes just integrating “partnership” into your sales flow has a downshift effect on the actual selling taking place on the call. There are no “partner plaques” in the top billers workspace.

Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at: