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November 21, 2014

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01/09/06 How Do You Make Your Clients Money?
Throughout history, companies that have excelled have figured out the magic formula to success: If we can make money for other people, we too will be rewarded.

But how do you do it?

I recently posed this question to the sales teams at our magazines. The answers I received revealed a lot about my own operation. I strongly suggest posing an unbiased question to your people. I was not looking for a specific answer; I was looking for the insights of others. In my case, the exercise revealed that some are focused on making money for clients, while others merely are focused on selling.

Some took the question literally by answering that we can't make money for others because we lack control over their people, their operations, and their profitability. No matter how many customers we generate, we cannot control their ability to sell their products or their ability to keep the money. Others provided the expected answers, such as, “We advertise their products, which brings them customers.” Also correct. But what do we do to make our clients money? If you can figure out the answer to that Holy Grail, your coffers will overflow. Everything we do must be focused on making our clients a lot of money. If they look at us as a revenue line instead of a cost line on their budget, we are more likely to have a successful long-term relationship.

I recently had a client tell me, “None of your competitors have gone into this kind of depth we me. No one on the outside has ever created a plan for me to actually make money. Most just have differing ways of saying gimme, gimme.”

When I pose the “How do you make your clients money?” question to radio salespeople, very few really understand that changing the nature of their client relationship will make the dollars flow. Radio has given lip service to the consultant, but it ends once you take what the client tells you and manipulate it into why he should advertise on your station. Have you ever considered showing how to advertise on your competitors' stations? Gasp! Eric, are you nuts? Have you ever delved into their marketing on television, direct mail, in-store marketing (without trying to take those dollars)? Eric, you ARE nuts. How often do you comment on your observations of their operation? When you're on the inside, you cannot see what those on the outside see, and clients value meaningful insights into ways they can improve their business.

Until the client trusts you enough to say, “I'm thinking about placing a buy on your competition, what do you think?” and until your answer can be “It's a good idea” without taking the temptation to slam them, you cannot be a trusted marketing partner. Clients crave help. Everyone has a hand in the client's pocket, including their own agency. Imagine how much they would value truth, fresh perspectives, new ideas that go beyond what you are trying to get from them? Isn't it time we help our clients make money?


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