Why a Little Dabbling Will Doom Ya

A West Coast Toyota dealer delivered a great lesson to a TV salesperson recently. And I got to watch.

Media sales tip: make sure they eat enough

photo by puhhha/dpc

The dealer was a loyal, consistent radio user — in fact, he told us that he spent nearly $50,000 a month, every month, on radio. He’d done this for years.

He would occasionally advertise on the TV station I was working with. On those occasions, he’d average about $3-4000 a month, generally for a couple of months.

On radio, he runs local ads making a strong offer. On TV, he’d use the manufacturer’s creative — 25 seconds about the Camry with a 5-second dealer tag at the end.

I asked him: “Which works better for you — radio or TV?”

His reply: “Radio’s always worked for us. We’ve dabbled in TV, but it’s never worked as well as radio has.”

This was a needs analysis call, and I have a rule on needs analysis calls — no arguing. So I bit my tongue until the AE and I were back in the car.

  • He spends 50 grand a month on radio, 12 months a year, using copy that sells for his dealership.
  • When he “dabbles” in TV, it’s with less than 10% of his radio investment, for a couple of months at a time, using national image ads.

Of course radio works better for him!

This applies to all media choices. Over the years I’ve seen plenty of cases where the investment levels were reversed — advertisers making a genuine commitment to television and dabbling in radio. Those advertisers invariably decide that TV works better.

I’ve watched major long-time advertisers on TV or Radio Station A  give Station B a small short-term “test”. Inevitably, they conclude what they “knew” all along — Station B just doesn’t work as well as Station A.

As media sellers, we get mad at these clients for not giving our medium a fair shake, but some of the blame belongs with us. Because we let them do it.

Every time we accept a small order from a big advertiser…

Every time we let them “test” our station for a month…

Every time we let them dabble when we know that they need to make a real commitment…

…we create another client who tells everyone that “I tried [name of medium here] and it didn’t work.”

Don’t let ’em dabble.

Question: How do you convince new clients to make a real commitment? You can leave a comment by clicking here.



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