Why You Can’t Wait For the Shmoo in 2016

At a recent holiday gathering, a group of us landed on the subject of the Shmoo, and how it relates to advertising sales in 2016.


The Shmoo was a character in the 1940s and 1950s comic strip Li’l Abner. It’s a little hard to explain, but here’s a description from the Wikipedia entry on the subject:

  • Shmoos are delicious to eat, and are eager to be eaten. If a human looks at one hungrily, it will happily immolate itself — either by jumping into a frying pan, after which they taste like chicken, or into a broiling pan, after which they taste like steak. When roasted they taste like pork, and when baked they taste like catfish. (Raw, they taste like oysters on the half-shell.)

  • They also produce eggs (neatly packaged), milk (bottled, grade-A), and butter—no churning required. Their pelts make perfect bootleather or house timber, depending on how thick you slice it.

  • They have no bones, so there’s absolutely no waste. Their eyes make the best suspender buttons, and their whiskers make perfect toothpicks. In short, they are simply the perfect ideal of a subsistence agricultural herd animal.

  • Naturally gentle, they require minimal care, and are ideal playmates for young children. The frolicking of shmoon is so entertaining (such as their staged “shmoosical comedies”) that people no longer feel the need to watch television or go to the movies.

By its very existence, The Shmoon (this is the plural) appeared to provide for just about all of humanity’s needs. But rather than making people happy, Shmoon  created as many problems as they solved, and were ultimately set upon and destroyed by society.

The Shmoo in Advertising Sales

In broadcast sales, the Schmoo is the big agency account. A few times a year, the Schmoo issues an RFP, and you submit. Hit the cost per point, throw in some added value along with some concert tickets for the buyer, and you get the money.

For decades, many media reps made a good living on Shmoon. Young AE’s waited for veterans to leave, eventually inherited big agency accounts, and soaked up the money as the RFP’s came in. It was a good ride while it lasted, butthe Shmoo Ride is over.

As businesses bought each other, consolidation made some of the big local accounts disappear. Other agency accounts went national. Now agencies, often with station help, are automating the process. Soon that RFP will go from one computer to another, and the buy will happen automatically, untouched by human hands.

If you’ve been making your living by riding the Shmoo, you’re going to have to find another way to do it. The easy, automatic money is just about gone. The Schmoo isn’t coming anymore.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that there is still plenty of opportunity to make money. with local direct. Local direct, alas, is a Shmoo-free zone.

The money is there, but it’s not coming to you – you have to go get it. That means looking for leads, interrupting strangers on the phone and convincing them to meet with you. Doing thorough needs analysis calls, coming back with great ideas, and asking for the business.

It’s the kind of selling I teach every day.

It’s not easy. In fact, it looks a whole lot like work. But if you’re willing to make the effort, study the techniques, and skip the shortcuts, there is still great money to be made.

Stop waiting for the Shmoo, and go call a customer.


Coming in early 2016: a new networking site for television/digital sales professionals. Be looking for information about TV Sales Cafe™ in the next few weeks!


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