Redefining Your Perceived Value


This article is about why people pay more if they perceive value. And it’s about how you could make much more money for you and your station if you can teach your clients that you are their most valuable asset when it comes to advertising and marketing.

A few years back, while I was visiting the U.K., I stepped inside London’s Liberty department store. Liberty has a reputation for selling some of the finest scarves in the world. I was searching for a couple to give to my wife and my mother. Nearby was an American couple. She had tried on one of the fancier scarves and was admiring herself in the mirror.

I told her it looked great on her. She said, “Yes, but it’s expensive.” I gave her the quote my father-in-law always used, “If you like something enough, go ahead and buy it. You’ll forget what you paid for it in three months.” Then she said, “Yes, but this scarf is 1,200 pounds.” Well, alrighty then. I’d probably never forget if I paid that much for a scarf. But the point is that somebody would pay it. Maybe even the woman I was talking to.

My neighbor recently spent $180,000 on an Aston Martin Vantage and he’s thrilled with his purchase. Someone helped him become convinced that buying that car was in his best interest.

And a political action committee paid $900 per spot before the election on a radio campaign in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. $900 a spot for a radio station in market #113? Yes. Sold, logged, aired, and collected.

So what is the true value of the Sioux Falls station? Some agencies demand free commercials or a free promotion in order to get a paid buy. So the value of the radio station lies somewhere between “free” and $900 a spot.

Perception of value varies wildly. At a cocktail party a friend with no experience in media was surprised to learn that she could buy commercials from top-rated radio stations in Austin, Texas, for $100-$200 per spot. She naively assumed that they would cost 10 times that much.

During a talk about life insurance, my wife told me, “If I die, you lose your chef, your yard person, your dog walker, and your bookkeeper. If you die, I get paid.” Damn. Looks like I have some work to do in the spousal “perception of value” area. I also realize that I might want to invest in a food tester.

How are you perceived in the eyes of local direct decision-makers? How do you increase sales regardless of ratings, geography, format, or program? Teach your clients to place more value and trust in you personally. Earn your place in the client’s “circle of trust.” Reframe yourself as the exact opposite of how they perceive other media salespeople. You are not there to bore them with ratings, charts, or confusing rate cards. You’re not there to brag about your program or format. You are there to guide them, to illuminate a marketing path that will help them sell much more product or service.

Reframing yourself might mean that you have to come up with a better story than the one you’re currently using. I use my concept, “To Sell the Truth.” I explain to the client that he or she already has the talking points they need to sell consumers. They are the same talking points the client and his employees use every day on the lot, in the store, over the phone, or in their office. They successfully convey important information to consumers that helps them (consumers) make better-educated buying decisions.

I ask good questions that cause the client to deliver answers typical of the way they already communicate with customers. I try to get away from scripts. They’re hard to write because they’re fake. People don’t really talk the way we write. I advise the client to stick with these points and eliminate all clichés. I suggest that they talk about their own moral imperatives and discuss any elephants in the room.

In other words, I encourage clients to be themselves in their commercials and reveal their true nature to the media audience. “To Sell the Truth” allows your client the opportunity to open up and show listeners and viewers that he or she really “has their back” when it comes to buying a car, applying for a loan, getting an education, buying furniture, going out to eat, doing a home repair or remodel, whatever. “To Sell the Truth” gives your audience a window to see into the true heart and soul of your client’s business.

Remove all the “fake stuff” from the commercial and allow the client to have regular 30-second vignettes of conversation with your audience. I find that this “To Sell the Truth” concept works very well for me. You may have a different creative concept that works for you. If you have no personal creative strategy, you’re probably in trouble as you try to close long-term local direct business. That means you have little to offer besides your numbers or the story of your format or program. Work out what your creative strategy is and how your client would directly benefit by using it. Tighten your story up and connect the dots so that it’s interesting and easy for your client to digest.

Then I minimize client risk and anxiety about purchasing from me by telling stories of how I’ve helped other businesses with the same concept and then by doing a simple ROI analysis for them. If the client sells shoes and her average sale is $120 with a gross margin of profit of 40 percent, how many new customers would she have to sell to break even per $1,000 per week she spends with you?

Help your clients come to their own conclusions on buying you and your ideas based on your patient and expert guidance.

I have learned that decision-makers take me more seriously when I ask them for real money. Many local direct clients are used to dealing with other vendors and often spending big bucks with them in the process. We in media usually come across as “cheap,” asking for very little budget. I have found little resistance when I propose what I used to ask for per month, and instead ask for at least that much per week. Keep in mind that it’s usually not the client that has the rate resistance problem, it’s us in media.

Once the client is convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that your plan for their success is better than theirs, they’ll hand you the keys and say, “You drive.”  They’ll stay loyal because they perceive your value to them differently than they do your more spam-like media competitors. You are a resource, not a pest. They see you as doing much more than just selling spots and dots. They put you into a completely different category of experts, like their lawyer, their doctor, their insurance person, and their accountant. They feel like you have their back with advertising and marketing and they’ll pay you very well for your expertise.
If you need help redefining your value to local direct decision-makers, I will be happy to help you.


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