Community Accounts are the small businesses, local nonprofits and public events that make up 40% of sponsors but only 5% of revenue at 22 stations served by Market Enginuity. They may be expert bakers and barbers, but they lack marketing expertise, which leads to lots of handholding from sponsorship staff. Buffeted by the pandemic, they suffered 80% attrition from FY20 to FY21.
Just as no development team would tolerate losing 4 of 5 listener-members a year, we will not abandon small sponsors just because they aren’t big annual spenders.
To super-serve Main Street, Market Enginuity launched the Community Accounts Sponsorship Team at KUT and KUTX in Austin; WFAE in Charlotte; KERA and KXT in Dallas; Houston Public Media; WUWM in Milwaukee; KJZZ and KBACH in Phoenix; St. Louis Public Radio; and WAMU in Washington, DC in July 2020. WBEZ and Vocalo in Chicago were added in January 2021.
With more than a century of marketing and public media expertise, the nine-member team studied five years’ worth of small sponsors and learned:
• 75% promoted events
• Most wanted to support their favorite stations and market their offerings, but weren’t sure how to do it
• Half did not return year-over-year and no one knew why: One-time event? Ineffective schedule? Out of business? No one called?
Our solution: Create a system to serve small sponsors quickly and effectively.
1) Use simple schedules: Based on successful arts campaigns, we created minimum, effective, one-week schedules for each market. Our promise: “At least 1 of 3 people listening during your campaign will hear your message.” (33% cume)
2) Write every message: Our fill-in-the-blank, Mad Libs form gets details from sponsors so our team can use their words to write compliant messages. 72% used the form and no one required more than one revision.
3) Extend relationships via automation: With so many accounts, automated emails help us stay in touch. The Campground, our monthly e-newsletter, features low- and no-cost marketing tips with success stories from like-sized organizations nationwide. The Campground is a favorite, with 17,079 emails sent in its first year at a 27.8% open rate.
Using this process, we launched The Gateway, an online, self-serve scheduling system in January. The Gateway lets small sponsors book campaigns when they need them and prepay by credit card. A human-staffed chat gives help during business hours, and friendly automated emails remind clients to renew and alert them to special offers.