Jim Williams on Using Demo Tapes to Sell Radio Advertising

The One, Only, and Original…Jim Williams


He was radio’s first serious sales trainer.

Hundreds, maybe thousands, of radio advertising salespeople across America acquired their unshakeable belief in the power of radio advertising from Jim.

By way of introduction, this post is intended for radio advertising sales professionals only.  If you’re not one, it’s unlikely you’ll find this post interesting.  In fact, you’ll probably be bored stiff.  (You can’t say I didn’t warn you.)

Eventually this post and others in the series will migrate to a different website. But for the time being, let me introduce you to a crusty, colorful old Okie, whose dogmatism challenged and changed a generation of radio advertising salespeople, managers, station owners, and by extension the advertisers they served, for good.

The following recording is the introduction to a two-tape training series he dubbed The Smart Call Demo Plan.  Jim was adamant about making use of demo tapes, arguably the most important single tool in the radio ad salesperson’s toolkit.  Jim’s original week-long “boot camps” and subsequent recorded sales training collections were filled with examples of demos that had been instrumental in closing sales and opening relationships with advertisers.  Toward the end of his training career, Jim extracted many of these examples from his larger body of work and compiled them together for concentrated study in The Smart Call Demo Plan.

Before listening to this six-minute presentation, please be forewarned: the quality of the audio isn’t anything to write home about.  It wasn’t state-of-the-art even back then.

Frankly, Jim was big on content, not so much on mechanics.  When it came to his own advertising to radio stations, he eschewed typesetting, preferring to scrawl with a Sharpie his sales pitch onto a piece of typing paper, then fax the handmade “tacky brochure” (his terminology) to his prospects.

So, when it came to recording himself for the present series, he used an inexpensive mic and cassette tape recorder (a technique he urged radio advertising salespeople to emulate in creating many of their own demos), then paid someone to edit and master them.  You will hear hiss on the tape, street traffic noise in the background, and will have to put up with occasional distractions.  Don’t let these keep you from enjoying and benefiting from Jim’s insights, which are as valuable today as ever.

Cassettes have gone the way of tape reels, broadcast tape cartridges (“carts”) and other obsolete media, giving way to CD-Rs, MP3s, and digital audio downloads.  But though technology may change, the principles Jim taught are timeless.

Listen and see if you don’t agree.

Subsequent chapters will be uploaded individually to our company website and linked at Radio Sales Cafe, as we embark on a project we’ve been anticipating for many months – to introduce, and at the same time memorialize Jim Williams and his unique sales training philosophy and techniques to a new generation of radio advertising sales professionals.

Stay tuned.

About Rod Schwartz

Rod Schwartz backed into a lifelong career in radio advertising in 1973 in Springfield, Illinois. He joined the Pullman (Wash.) Radio Group in 1979, where he worked until his retirement at the end of 2022. Since 1991, Rod and his family have operated Grace Broadcast Sales (GraceBroadcast.com), providing short-form syndicated radio features to radio and TV stations across the U.S. and Canada. Rod also operates an independent advertising, marketing, and communications consultancy for small business owners and professionals, FirstStrikeAdvertising.com. An avid photographer, Rod shares some of his favorite images of the Palouse at PalousePics.com and on his Viewbug gallery.
This entry was posted in Advertising (General), Audio Equipment, Client-voiced commercials, Communication, Copy, Copywriting, Grace Broadcast Sales, Radio Advertising, Radio Commercials, Radio Copywriting, Radio Production, Radio Sales Cafe, Sales & Marketing, Storytelling and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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