Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Everything has it's value...

Mr K is a delightful man. As the owner of a very successful Indian restaurant, he has been a client of my production company Airforce for over 17 years. Yesterday, in one of our get-togethers, we had a catch up. I learned that considering all that is going on in the economy, Mr K and his restaurant are doing fine.

Over a superb meal, we discussed (amongst other things) the new scripts I presented him, the explosion in Social Networking and the price of his food. He explained that 2 new Indian restaurants had opened up in his area, but despite this business was still good. He took me through one of the new restaurant’s menu.

He was surprised at how low the cost of certain dishes were and went on to explain that his business would never go into a price war in order to get business. I agreed with him. In a lot of cases, reducing your prices just because someone else has is putting yourself on a very slippery slope to doom.

“Everything has a value”, Mr K said. “If it is good, people will pay the proper price”.

Rewind 3 days to a presentation about the Creative Sell to a station sales team not a million miles away from Airforce HQ. My brief was to give the sales team a short, sharp overview on all things relating to commercial production. One person had a worry that some of his advertisers would not buy more expensive ideas because they were used to paying entry level-priced commercial production. I explained that I should be the one should be worried ! The advertiser is signed to the station. It’s just a matter of who is going to make the commercial ! Therefore I have to work harder to get the production gig. And I have no problem in doing that.

Rewind another 5 days. I am having lunch with a highly talented radio sales exec. (I love my job. Free lunches, stimulating conversation and some business too !) We were reflecting on how much the way radio has been sold has changed over the years. We touched on the current phenomena: Clients being able to share in unsold inventory. To many stations, this approach has become a vital part in keeping the coffers well-stocked.

But in my lunch, the sales exec was wondering if it had all been good. I made the point that across the UK, there were probably a whole load of advertisers who should not have been sold these packages and because of it, some stations may be losing out on a larger pot of gold. The exec agreed and went on to consider how difficult it was going to be to switch some of these advertisers to more planned and structured campaigns which costed more.

Today as I write this article, Mr K’s words are still rattling around my head. “Everything has a value...If it is good, people will pay the proper price”.

If a product or service is better than everyone else’s, many people will still be happy to pay more for it. If an idea for a radio advertising concept is good, people will pay more. If an advertiser sees the benefits behind why a proper structured advertising campaign is better than a ‘one size fits all’ package, he will understand why he has to pay more.

Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s still bloody tough out there and it’s very tempting to take any money that’s on offer. But when the good times come back, it’s vital that our clients are conditioned to understand the true value of what they are buying. If we don’t start changing some people now, the products we are selling will never give us a proper return.

John Calvert

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