I Know Something You Don’t Know


(By Paul Weyland) Remember when you were a little kid and somebody said to you, “I know something you don’t know.” In my case, a statement like that would get my full, undivided attention. Why? Did they know something that would get me in trouble? Did they know something that would help me in some way? What did they know that I didn’t know? I wanted to know, and I wanted to know it now, dammit!

I still do. I still want to know what I don’t know. I’m crazy for information that would make my life and that of my family better, more luxurious, safer. I like learning things that give me more of a competitive edge in life. And so do most other people, including local direct decision-makers. We’re curious by nature, especially if we’re looking for information that would benefit us somehow.

Lately I’ve had lots of success opening conversations with potential clients by using a version of that simple statement. I tell them, “I know something you don’t know about how to engage potential customers much faster than you have ever done in the past, and once you know what I know, I don’t think you’ll ever be able to go back to the way you’ve advertised before.” And guess what most of them do? They lean forward and closer, eager to hear what I have to say.

That kind of reaction reminds me of a technique a local radio salesperson has been using unconsciously for years, completely unaware that he was even doing it until I pointed it out. When he was ready to tell me or someone else something interesting, he would almost always look to each side first and then lower his voice to almost a whisper, indirectly forcing the individual he was speaking with to lean forward to hear what he was saying. Brilliant. People strain to listen. They’re listening harder. They feel like they’re privy to special information. Totally engaging.

When I open with my “I know something you don’t know” method, I’m also intimating that what I am getting ready to say may have special value to the person I’m speaking with. Once I have my client’s complete and undivided attention, I’ll go on to explain a glaring problem I see with almost all of the advertising we’re barraged with and what the client could do to avoid making that critical mistake in his or her future campaigns.

My secret is so big and so starkly obvious that once I point it out, the client will sometimes slap their hand to their forehead and say, “Why hasn’t anybody ever told me this before?”

Now I’m going to share the secret I have discovered. And once I tell you what it is, I’ll bet you’ll never be able to think about marketing and advertising the same way again. But before I tell you, first I want you to imagine what potential decision-makers must think about us as an industry to begin with.

How do we approach local direct decisionmakers now? Unfortunately, pretty much the same way we always have — poorly. We use the same old cliched openers they’ve heard hundreds of times before, from other media salespeople. I’m sorry, but “Hi, my name is [Name] with K___, and I just wanted to see if I could arrange a time to talk about your advertising” just doesn’t cut it anymore. Or “I just wanted to see if I could sit down with you and learn more about your business,” or “I wanted to meet with you to see if we would be a good fit for your business,” or “Well, I’m your new rep at W___, and I just wanted to come over and introduce myself.” No! Stop it! Now!

I have always advocated for better headlines to get appointments with key decision-makers. And in order to stand out from all the other media salespeople the client is being exposed to, we must focus on better ways to drive business to them. We have to convince them that they can trust us to do their advertising and marketing thinking for them.

Here’s a dose of reality:

The client doesn’t really care about you.
They don’t care about your station.
They don’t care about your ratings.
They don’t care about your format.
They don’t care that you don’t know anything about their business.

What do they care about? They need ideas specifically on how you can help them stay in business. Again, once you convince a prospect beyond a shadow of a doubt that your plan for their success is better than their plan, they’ll hand you the keys and let you drive — then, and only then.

Just look at what local retailers are up against now. Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime is worse than Walmart. In fact, Amazon Prime is worse than anything (except maybe war) that has ever happened to brick-and-mortar businesses. And if we can’t help them now, in their biggest time of need, then why do they still need us at all?

I’ll tell you why they need us. Because we know something they don’t know.

Here is what you should know backwards and forwards that you can convey to your clients. Every day, local direct businesses work with customers in person, and they show many of those customers why it’s in their best interest to do business with them. In other words, they tell potential customers things on a daily basis that help convince their potential customers that their plan for the customer’s success is better than the customer’s plan. Only then will the customer buy.

The things the business tells their customers on a daily basis to help them buy are called “talking points.” Talking points are sales pitches that are time-proven to help grow sales. Some multigenerational businesses, like car dealerships, have talking points that might be decades old. But they still work, so they still use them.

Many of those talking points convince potential buyers that the company they’re spending their hard-earned money with is there for them for service after the sale. In other words, if you buy from that company, they have your back.

Or perhaps they use talking points like this: “Not only is the car you’re driving out of warranty and costing you a small fortune in repair bills, it’s also unsafe compared to what people are driving today. For example, all our new models come equipped with side impact airbags and rearview cameras as standard equipment.”

Or: “You might find a vehicle a little less expensive a few hours from here, but if it breaks, you might have to get it back there to get it serviced. We’re right here in town, and if you’re in trouble, we’ve got your back.”

Here’s a talking point from a car dealer in Knoxville, Tennessee called Airport Honda. I asked the dealer why they called it Airport Honda and he said, “Duh — because we’re right across the highway from the airport.” OK. Does that mean anything for customers? “Well, yes. If you’re our customer and you need to go to the airport, you can come here and park on our lot for free and we’ll shuttle you to the gate free.” I said, “Man, that’s great. Are you advertising that?” and he said, “No, we never thought to use that in our ads. Do you think people would like that?”

Here’s another example: A bicycle retailer has a real problem. Millennial consumers are coming into brick-and-mortar stores and “show-rooming” them. That means that a person who looks like a buyer comes in, shows interest, engages the sales clerk and asks a lot of questions, handles the merchandise, even photographs the item they’re looking at — and then goes home and buys that product for less online.

I talked to the bike store owner and asked questions, trying to learn the talking points they use in the store to help stop these people from buying the same product elsewhere. The decisionmaker finally says, “When they buy the bicycle from us, we include a free tuneup good for one year and worth $140. That’s something you can’t get when you buy the same bike online.” Wow, that’s great. I ask the owner if he’s ever advertised that. “No,” he says, “we never thought to use that in the radio commercials.”

Why? Because no one in our industry ever really asked him to. Good lord, these clients know a lot of things that consumers don’t know. They’ve got lots of great talking points that they use every single day to get people to say yes, but those talking points seldom if ever make it into the ad. Let me repeat. The client already has proven talking points that help people say yes. But these register-ringing jewels seldom make it into the commercials we run for them.

What do we put in the ad instead? Meaningless cliched crap, like “Family-owned and-operated.” “Three convenient locations to serve you!” “It’s our Sizzlin’ Red-Hot Summer Sales Event!” “You’ve got to see it to believe it.” “You’ll love our loyal and eager salespeople!” And on and on. It’s incredibly bad. Or if they use any talking points at all, they’ll cram so many of them into one commercial that you never hear them. Most of the time the commercials aren’t about the consumer at all, only the client. And nobody — except the client, perhaps — cares.

Why aren’t we addressing consumers on the air with the same proven talking points clients use every day in the store? On the lot? Over the phone? In person? Because we’re nuts, that’s why. When clients realize this flaw in our commercial messages, they usually get it. They understand, and they change their pitch after you show them why they should. They’ll never look at advertising the same way again. Our commercials will be so much better, and they’ll love you for pointing out this little secret.

So the best solution to horrible ads is to run one bona fide talking point per commercial. Zero cliches. Then you rotate commercials. Perhaps the “bread and butter” commercial runs 50 percent. The other two, on two different subjects, run 25 percent each.

It pays to know something your client doesn’t know. And remember, your client knows a lot of things consumers don’t know, things that if they did know, would probably lead to many more sales for the client. It’s in your best interest to tell clients things you know that would help make them more money. When you have happy clients signing long-term contracts, then you can sing, “I know something you don’t know” all the way to the bank.

Paul Weyland helps broadcasters sell more long-term local direct business. Contact him to help your station: 512.236.1222 or [email protected].


  1. Very insightful and true. Everyone loves and often feel empowered by a good secret. It gets harder and harder to break through the clutter and capture a prospect’s attention. I will put this approach into action immediately. Thanks Paul! – Judith Goode, Houston

  2. Very good and helpful to any type of sales. My industry is far from the Broadcasting profession, but this approach to a client works and works well. Great insight Paul and thank you for sharing. — Larry Todd, Austin.


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