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Raise The Bar On Local Client Budgets


These next few months are critical for broadcast reps trying to lock in 2014 local direct ad budgets. The question is, even in a recession, are you asking for enough or are you leaving money on the table?

Almost every week I sit with local direct clients and help them come up with long-term marketing and advertising strategies. Its interesting to observe how these business owners behave when you ask them for real money. They usually squirm in their chairs and then lean forward, as you now have their full, undivided attention. Why? Because like many of the clients other vendors, youre asking for real money, not chicken feed. Real money proposals get decisionmakers' attention.

We should be prescribing advertising budgets to clients, not the other way around. I just got off the phone with a television sales rep who called me looking for a creative angle for a local client. We came up with a great idea and the rep was excited about presenting it. Then he said, Im calling the client right now to find out what his budget is.

NOOOOOOO! When you have a client interested in a great new way to sell his product or service to your consumers its YOUR job to recommend the budget. Aim high, not low. Base your recommendation on what it would take for your client to own his category on your station. Kick-butt creative, combined with great frequency equals results. Perhaps due to budget constraints you might have to agree to a smaller amount, but at least the client now has a good understanding of what it would eventually take to own his/her product/service category on your station.

We gave the owner of a local home improvement store (45 percent gross margin of profit, average sale $300) a better way to advertise. Without scripts, he explains how easy and inexpensive it is to install your own hardwood floor. His new tagline is See? Its easy! You can do this! Other commercials discuss how to install a dog door, how to add your own ceiling trim, etc.

He supports his commercials online with step-by-step instructions. And, he tells the people that if they dont feel like doing the project themselves, he has a list of qualified and honest contractors that will do the job for them. The client loved the idea. Then he asks how much it would cost. We suggested that he should spend in a week what he normally spent in a month.  He squirmed a little in the chair, leaned forward and we came to an agreement that far exceeded what hed ever spent in the past.

We came up with an idea that a local homebuilder (gross margin of profit 20 percent on an average sale of over $250,000) just loved. He would talk to empty nesters and explain to them the logic of downsizing into a smaller, one-story new home. He would explain on air that smaller homes loaded with amenities is the new cool. No more stairs to climb, no more maintenance issues. He would talk about the unnecessary cost of heating and cooling their current empty rooms and high-ceiling entryways. He would also tell consumers that he would help them sell their existing homes. When he asked how much the campaign would cost, we gave him a high number, higher than this station had ever asked a builder to spend before. He leaned forward, thoroughly engaged, tapped his pen on his desk, and took the schedule as presented. He bought it because he saw value in the strength of the idea and, based on his average sale and his gross margin of profit, because his calculated risk looked low.

Dont forget that gross margins and average sales stay consistent regardless of market size. So smaller market stations have the right to ask for more as well. The important thing is that if you dont get into the habit of asking for more youll never get more. So, ask, ask, ask.

Paul Weyland helps broadcast stations sell more long-term local direct advertising. He can be reached at 512-236-1222 or at Get Pauls new book "Think like an Adman, Sell like a Madman" at

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