Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"We understand life backwards but live it forwards." Kierkegaard

"Everything seems stupid when it fails." Dostoevsky

"For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them." Aristotle

Today's image: Listen Inside by rimedhitaf. Awesome. Thank you for sharing.

"You're making a mistake" That's the #1 rejoinder of radio sellers when told our little retail shop is taking a pass on their offer. #2 is "You're making a big mistake." The state of radio sales today is symptomatic of a significant systemic problem. Radio sellers, in the main, are not being properly trained, not being coached, not being mentored, not being led. Our very successful retail store has been around close to 3.5 years. We believe in advertising. Our ad spend is committed to broadcast TV, cable (i.e., local insertion), online and print. It gives me no pleasure to report that in all the days we have been in business one and only one radio station has successfully pitched our business. The radio sellers working for Craig Karmazin presented a killer idea. We bought the idea, the concept, we certainly didn't buy the ratings. Ideas close sales.

Kevin Sweeney taught me decades ago "The favorite subject of every retailer is their business. Nobody they know, not their family, not any of their friends, care to hear anything more about this single biggest personal obsession. Retailers without exception love to talk about their business. Ask them to tell you about their business and then shut up. Listen and learn about their business, learn about what's important to them. This is the first step in understanding how to sell to retailers. The second step is understanding that retailers don't sell for a living, they buy for a living. When you attempt to sell a retailer you're at a big and distinct disadvantage, successful retailers make their living making smart buying decisions."

Having a radio seller tell me that we, the potential customer, are making a mistake is exactly the wrong approach. The way to my wallet is not telling me I don't know what I'm doing (and by the way Sparky, I could care less about your station/cluster, enough about you). The more effective and productive approach is engaging the prospect intellectually and emotionally. My suggestion is what's missing here the most (aside from the wrong attitude when losing the sale) is homework, a complete and total failure to do the homework before making the call. The brilliant Mr. Sweeney taught us to do our homework before making the first face call. That homework included "shopping" the store. Radio sales does enjoy one major benefit - incredible upside potential. Please, don't blame the sellers. I certainly don't. This is a leadership problem.

Branding starts with the right pronoun: Marketing ace Tom Asacker offers up some keen insight here. Bravos, Tom!

Buzz: Carrier via PBS

"Brevity is the soul of wit" so said the Bard of Avon. The uber-cool Kevin Kelly says Short is In. Bravos, Kevin! My sense is it was ever thus.

Cara's Basement: Cara interviews comedian Lee Camp (audio).

Congrats & cheers: SlideRocket is on! Mitch Grasso and his crew have ignition and getting ready for lift off. The guys are blogging here. Invited to the private beta and I must say the app is very strong and very cool. Lone Star legend Ron Chapman subs for Paul Harvey. Greg Coleman named prexy and CEO at startup NetSeer.

Bonus: Prof John Hauser, Introduction to Marketing via MIT OpenCourseWare. The Experts vs. the Amateurs: A Tug of War over the Future of Media - Knowledge@Wharton.