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Underwriting Wave FAQ





"Won't an Underwriting Wave decimate our spot rate?"




We haven't yet done an Underwriting Wave that sends current clients stampeding for the exits or demanding a cheaper rate.


Here's why:


Most top clients are paying for premium placements: Morning Edition on NPR and shows like Downton Abbey on PBS.  You can offer those clients all the rotators you want and they'll just turn their noses up at you.  They want a premiere audience, and they're willing to pay to get it.


Underwriting Waves attract a different breed of sponsor: one that wants to reach your entire audience repeatedly over the course of an entire year.  They're willing to pay for what they want, too.  It's just that the objectives are different.

"How many prospects need to attend the presentations to be successful?"


Ideally, you should have 30 or more.  They can be split up over the course of multiple sessions.  For example, you can have 15 attend on Thursday and another 15 on  Friday.


Some Underwriting Waves have been successful with as few as 15 total attendees.   Others have reaped disappointing results with 40 attendees.  The number of attendees is important, but it's only one element of a successful Wave.

"Why do you give the presentations at lunch?"


Because we've been so successful that way.


Over the years, we've found that people who won't give us 10 minutes in their office will give us 90 minutes and drive to us if we buy them lunch.  We don't know much about psychology, but we can tell you that "free lunch" is a pretty powerful incentive.


Another nice thing about lunch presentations is that prospects tend to pay much closer attention.  We ask them to turn off their cell phones.  Without a cell phone ringing or a computer in front of them dinging every time an email arrives, we find that they can sit back and absorb the presentation better than they do in any other setting.


Public broadcasting is a unique value proposition.  It takes a well-prepared, 30 minute presentation to really tell its story.  We've had more success getting that attention at a lunch than in any other setting.


"Where is the best place to host the lunch and what should we serve?"


The answer to both questions is that it doesn't much matter.


For the presentations, we require a projector and a screen.  It's also nice to have sound, but if the sound isn't wired into the venue, the speakers from a desktop computer typically work just fine.  So, as long as the venue has those elements, it should work


If you have a nice studio, that's a great place to host lunches.  We work in TV and radio stations every day, so it's no big deal to us, but most people outside of the business think that having lunch in a TV studio is pretty cool.


Retaurant meeting rooms work just fine, too.


As far as the meal goes, the only thing we're adamant about is that there must be salad.  In our experience, the majority of attendees are women, and some of them will eat nothing but salad.


"Should we host a breakfast, too?"


Typically, no.  At least not in most markets.


Moms - and some dads - have lots going on in the mornings.  Kids will always take priority over a sales presentation.  And most people would rather give up their lunch hour than leave the house an hour earlier.


"Do Underwriting Waves ever fail?  Why?"


Remarkably few of them fail, but it does happen occasionally.


The primary reason is that there aren't enough of the right prospects at the lunches.


If only five prospects RSVP for your presentations, you're probably not going to make much money.  You need to get people in seats to be successful.


In addition to having sufficient numbers, you need to have the right people attend.  Sponsors who buy Underwriting Wave packages tend to be established businesses that are already buying advertising in the market.  They don't necessarily have to be buying TV or radio, but they should be spending money somewhere, on something, to build their enterprises.  Small mom-and-pop businesses typically don't have enough money to afford an Underwriting Wave.  Let them grow and invite them when they can afford it.


"Should we invite agencies?"


Sure.  But don't expect a lot of sales from them.


Agencies are typically not great prospects for public broadcasting.  There are a number of exceptions, but public broadcasting's restrictions on content are deal-killers for lots of agencies.  Think about it: agencies make money by persuading advertisers that the agency's creativity will make thr ads more effective.  Strip away the creativity, and what's left?


The best Underwriting Wave prospects are typically medium-sized businesses that don't use agencies.  We try to pitch the owner, not the intermediary.


"What about TV production?"


We encourage stations to include the production of one modest spot in the price of the Underwriting Wave package.


Some stations worry that they won't have the production resources to make as many spots as an Underwriting Wave will require.  In our experience, stations generally need to produce 5 -10 spots over the course of about three months.  Most stations can handle that - particularly when it's worth tens of thousands of dollars in new revenue.


"Of the sponsors who sign, how many can I expect to cancel?"


Most of the time, none.


In the presentations, we're pretty careful to emphasize that sponsors are signing up for a full-year package and that the rates we're offering reflect that commitment.  This is not a package to run for a month to "try" public broadcasting.


Occasionally someone goes out of business or a new marketing director takes over and upends everything, but most Underwriting Wave clients pay predictably throughout the 12 month commitment - and a sizable number of them renew the following year.

"We're in a really small market.  Will an Underwriting Wave work for us?"


It's worked for a lot of other stations in small markets.  There is every reason to believe that it will work for you.  The beauty of an Underwriting Wave is that, when it's well-executed and well-attended, it makes money in every market size.

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