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Facilitator - Catalyst - Interpreter

Multi-Faceted Radio Advertising Consultant Harmony Tenney Sets Her Sights on Being a ‘One Person Ambassador for Radio Across the World’

By Jonathan Widran

Back in the late 90s, when Harmony Tenney began working as a consultant and sales rep for The Charlottesville Radio Group in Charlottesville, Virginia, terrestrial radio was the only game in town. Satellite Radio networks like XM and Sirius didn’t exist, and internet radio stations were years away from gaining a foothold on our listening habits.

For all the hype that XM, Sirius and web based outlets have generated these past few years, there’s a fascinating truth that Harmony likes to remind people of: America still listens to the radio—the real radio, the advertiser funded news, sports, talk and music stations that come to us free of charge over the airwaves. It keeps us company in the car, functions as a soothing or inspiring soundtrack at work, helps us chill out at home and still sounds great coming over the loudspeakers at the mall or when we’re laying on the beach.

She adds a few noteworthy stats to this: XM may have 73 different music channels, 39 news, sports, talk and entertainment channels, 21 regional traffic and weather channels and 23 play by play sports channels—but it only has a 3% market penetration. Meanwhile, terrestrial radio reaches 96% of Americans every week and 92% of them listen through the commercials.

“One of the enduring appeals of terrestrial radio is that it’s free and we can have it on at work, in the car, in stores, anywhere,” says Harmony, whose clients advertise on the Charlottesville Radio Group’s five regional stations 1070 WINA, 97.5 3WV, Lite Rock Z95.1, 1450 WVAX and 106.1 The Corner WCNR. “It’s pervasive and expected, and like direct mail, advertisers can choose the target audiences they want to advertise to. Different formats have different audiences they attract, and as a business owner, you can pick and choose who you talk to by age, gender and behavioral patterns. My role as a consultant is to help people grow their business and show them how radio can help them with customer attraction and retention. I come up with a plan to help them achieve their goals, I write and produce the ads and get them on the air. The challenge is to keep meeting the needs of these businesses even through different economies.”

Harmony shares her expertise in a chapter on Profitable Radio Advertising in the new book “ROI Marketing Secrets Revealed,” in which over 30 of today’s top marketing experts share their knowledge with business owners hoping to crack the code and generate revenue beyond their wildest dreams.

When the Columbus, Ohio native was an adult student studying for her undergraduate degree in organizational management and development at Bluefield College and studying for her MBA at Averett University (both in Virginia), her classmates voted her “Most Likely To Appear on the Cover of Business Week.” Once she had established herself in the Charlottesville marketplace, she tapped the same entrepreneurial spirit she showed back then to apply her radio advertising skills to the global marketplace.

Inspired and empowered by her mentoring with Alan Weiss, “The Architect of Professional Communities” and “The Million Dollar Consultant” whose clients include HP, GE, Mercedes-Benz, The Federal Reserve and the New York Times, Harmony launched several websites to help sell advertising all over the U.S. and Canada, from Newfoundland to California and New York. Generally, she begins penetrating a specific market by contacting business owners and finding out where and how they want to develop. She then surveys the local radio market, develops relationships with sales managers from local stations, designs schedules and writes and produces the ads—truly creating what turns out to be a turnkey situation for her clients.

One of her favorite research sites is Radio Ad Lab (www.radioadlab.com) – funded by radio industry companies to further understand how radio advertising works, to measure radio’s effectiveness and to increase advertiser and agency confidence in radio. Radio Ad Lab’s largest study to date addressed the core issue of advertising—Return on Investment (ROI). The results confirmed Harmony’s intuitive theories: Radio’s ROI was 49% higher than was observed for television. When compared to their partner advertisers’ historical TV ROI averages, radio’s ROI was approximately 17% higher than television!

While still in the process of setting up www.radioformainstreets.com (geared around the concept that governments and towns can partner with radio to make beautiful things happen in their communities) and www.radioadvertisinggenius.com (to promote her new book), she has established www.radioforlegal.com, a comprehensive site dedicated to servicing the radio advertising needs of the legal community. Harmony’s creation of this site grew out of the attorney contacts she made through “The Millionaire Maker” Dan Kennedy who were looking for help with direct response advertising. She is a Gold member in the Glazer-Kennedy Insider’s Circle, which connects entrepreneurs seeking fast and dramatic growth and greater control, independence and security.

Harmony’s 7 Step Radio for Legal System attracts a steady flow of new clients, increases referrals from prior ones and secures steady lead generation in any economy, guaranteed. The site explains that no other radio advertising rep has offered this kind of “insider” insight into harnessing the power of sending specific calls to action over their airwaves—or been able to delve past the “half-remembered, self-taught crap” that gets repeatedly passed down thru the years to get to the golden nugget secrets of building powerfully profitable prominence via radio.

“All of these experiences I have with the clients I work with nationally and internationally really help me dig in even deeper when I serve my local clients in Charlottesville,” says Harmony. “They help me understand how other stations try to bring in business, what business owners need from their reps, and help shape my perceptions of the market. It’s been further education for me on radio’s massive potential to change the lives of business owners. I want to be a one person ambassador for radio across the world. That goal begins by sharing my skills and expertise with specific niche markets and helping more and more businesses develop their own abilities to become more profitable.

“From a business owner’s standpoint,” she adds, “they can’t trust just anyone who walks through their door. So it’s all about developing a relationship, giving them a foundation for their trust. Over time, and especially once they see their profits increase, they understand my point that human beings don’t have ‘earlids,’ and our mind is always awake. Even if we’re engaged in some other task, the messages we hear on the radio get through and the brain is cataloguing all we’re learning about these companies. Trust also extends between the listener and the stations and their on-air personalities, who are like family. Listeners come to feel that the businesses advertising on these stations are, in essence, being recommended to them.”

Harmony’s background is unique in that she earned her Bachelor’s Degree and MBA going to school at night while building a strong reputation in sales and marketing via her work with global telecommunications company GTE Wireless. Earlier in her career, she received top state and regional recognition for success in retail sales (#1 ranking in seven states, % above quota) and retail store management (#4 in 7 states for stores of her size). Working in the corporate setting provided vital experience in the corporate setting, excellent training and opportunities for leadership.

Two main projects secured her future. The first was the GTE Wireless Mobile Van Team, in which approximately 24 persons from six different departments and every level (with Ms. Tenney being lowest on the totem pole – a retail sales rep) came together to decide if the Mobile Van Service Team should be disbanded. No other GTE Wireless in the nation had one, and it was costing the company to run it. There was a four month time limit, and only four meetings to come to a decision.

Harmony facilitated the entire group, took ownership of the project, and provided the calculations for pricing structures and profitability models for the group to decide on. The outcome was that the Mobile Van Team was shown to be invaluable and given a pricing structure that made it profitable, while meeting all the needs of each group’s vested interests. As a result, GTE Wireless Virginia saved over a million dollars.

The other project: Upon becoming a Retail Manager, she documented the path and skills required for a retail rep to train for and become a retail manager – breaking down the tasks of retail manager into specific areas and then expanding them into a program where the necessary management skills would be taught in specific modules over a set period of time.

Harmony is also a past president of the Waynesboro/East Augusta Rotary Club, which she helped grow by 50% her first year as a member and for whom she created numerous service projects, including one on teen pregnancy prevention.

While continuing to build her reputation as a top radio sales consultant both in the U.S. and overseas, Harmony is also the mother of eight year old twin girls, one of whom battled a rare form of cancer as an infant. Despite having an active sales and family life, she has made personal and professional development a top priority, along with sharing her expertise with others.

Harmony, who also mentored with Nido Qubein (chairman of an international consulting firm and president of High Point University), started a consulting company to begin serving in a global capacity. International Business Empowerment Consultants, Inc. is dedicated to identifying and implementing improvement strategies for customer acquisition, retention and ascension, increasing cash flow both immediately and long term and fueling the passion levels each member carries for their organization.

Drawing from over 25 yrs experience in consultative sales, in a variety of business settings (corporate, small business, non-profit, retail and entrepreneurial), industries and sizes, IBEC, Inc. provides businesses with the foundation, resources and abilities to continually exemplify market leadership in any economy.

“My greatest satisfaction is seeing someone smile when I have done a great job for them and helped bring them to the level of business that they hoped for,” Harmony says. “It’s wonderful when business owners appreciate what we’ve been able to accomplish together. My clients gave me the nickname Profit Panther, because that’s what I’m doing for them: demonstrating that it’s not some magic pill, but the proven vehicle of radio advertising that will help them get where they want to go.”