Obstacle Delusions


My wife Nancy meant to say the words “optical illusion” but instead what came out of her mouth was “obstacle delusion.” Pretty funny. I guess that would be one of those things you trip over that aren’t really there. Here are some of the “obstacle delusions” that trip us up in broadcast sales.

OBSTACLE DELUSION: Broadcast salespeople just assume that a local direct client can’t afford to pay more than say, $2,000 a month for a schedule on your station.
REALITY: Many business owners could afford to pay at least that much per week. Consider a remodeler for example. His average sale is at least $30,000 on a gross margin of profit of at least 30 percent. Come on, how many new customers would we have to bring the remodeler in a week to justify our measly little $10,000 weekly budget on our station?

OBSTACLE DELUSION: Because of the recession nobody is buying.
REALITY: People are still buying plenty in every market every day. People are buying groceries, fast food, cars, vacations, insurance, clothing, computers, boats, and even houses every day in every single market. With clever advertising that identifies and solves problems that keep consumers awake at night, your client has a good chance of converting some of your listeners and viewers into customers for life. Never forget that commercials that solve problems in the consumer’s language (no clichés) aren’t pesky annoyances, they’re public service announcements.

OBSTACLE DELUSION: We can’t ask for a rate increase in a recession. So instead we have to cut our rates to get new business.
REALITY: Other industries get rate increases despite the economy. Insurance premiums continue to go up regardless of the economy but people are still buying insurance. Health care and pharmaceutical prices are going up. Nordstrom’s still has plenty of buyers for $300 shoes. Movie tickets get more expensive every time I go but theaters are still packed for blockbuster movies. New tires are more expensive than ever but people are still buying them. People are still buying gasoline regardless of the fact that the cost is going back up. People are still eating at expensive restaurants. I’ve been in a different city every week and there are still waiting lines for dinner at popular restaurants. My auto repair facility isn’t giving out discounts. They don’t have to. I just talked to someone who paid $6,000 over sticker for a new Corvette Stingray. Bottom line: Give a client an idea that’s worth a million dollars to him over a five-year period (ask me how). Then calculate ROI by determining how many new customers he would need each week per (X-thousand) dollars a week spent on advertising. All you need for that calculation are his average sale and gross margin of profit. When the client understands that your idea is better than his and that advertising with you is not gambling but instead a good calculated risk, he won’t care whether the cost per spot is $59 or $89.

OBSTACLE DELUSION: Advertising in a recession is just a waste of time and money. I mean, if our national advertisers are cutting back, why shouldn’t local businesses follow their lead?
REALITY: But that’s insane. I mean, that’s crazy talk. Imagine that you are the CEO of a large corporation. Would it make sense to tell your stock holders and employees, “Well, times are tougher so our plan is to stop teaching people who we are, what we do, and how to get in touch with us.” Local direct clients should take this opportunity to take back market share that is rightfully theirs. If national box stores are cutting back a little, that’s great for your local direct decision-maker. There is less clutter and finally your local client has a better opportunity than he’s had in years to teach your audience why it’s in their best interest to buy from him.

OBSTACLE DELUSION: Nobody watches TV or listens to the radio anymore.

REALITY: That’s not factual. Ninety percent of all Americans still watch television and listen to the radio every week.


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