The competition. Let’s face it, internally, we all love to talk about how bad they are, how much better we are and make fun of all their dumb promotions and terrible hiring decisions. Externally, however, should be a much different story.
I was on a call once with one of my local reps, meeting with an ad agency and their client when the following questions were posed to the Account Executive: “What makes your station better than the competition?” “Why should we buy you and not them?”
At first, I was elated we got such a softball question, but unfortunately the feeling didn’t last long. The AE went in the complete opposite direction I’d have gone, mostly because every sentence started with the word “they.” They, as in the competition. “They don’t have as much local programming as we do.” “They pack their commercial breaks with too many spots.” “They don’t do anything in the community.” “They don’t have a good signal at night.” And of course, “They are having major financial problems, haven’t you seen the news?”
At the conclusion of the call, the AE, feeling very proud after having fully buried the competition in the meeting, asked how I thought they did. I said something along the lines of: “If the decision were up to me, I’d buy from someone else.”
When we got back to the office, I sat down with the AE and went through my thoughts on talking about the competition. First off, unless prompted, I would prefer sellers never mention the competition – it’s best if the competitors don’t exist.
Secondly, when asked questions such as this AE was, asking you to compare your station to another, what a perfect opportunity to really sell the positives of what you have to offer. If all you do is talk about what the other station doesn’t have or doesn’t do well, it could make the buyer think that you don’t have any selling points about your own product. Flip the scenario around and imagine yourself asking someone at a restaurant about their steaks, and the reply you get is: “Not as tough and fatty as that garbage across the street!” That’s not what you want to hear, you want to hear about how theirs are perfectly seared and come out sizzling and are full of flavor, bite after bite.
Most importantly, however, I told the AE how every single one of the responses could have been put a different way and had much more impact. Instead of “They don’t have as much local programming as we do,” saying something along the lines of “Our lineup features live, local programming from 6am to 9pm Monday through Friday or 80 hours per week, which is by far the most local programming anywhere in the market” highlights something positive about your product and also makes it clear that your competition doesn’t have as much local programming.
Look, I get the battle and the temptation to want to smear the competitor, and as always, there are exceptions to every rule! Think of another scenario though, politics. Every election the attack ads come out and get more and more ridiculous. How many times have you learned who someone’s competitor is from their own ad? Happens to me all the time. I watch a political attack ad, realize the attack is weak and end up knowing the opponents name when it’s over.
Why make anyone else a player? Once you get to the bottom of what’s keeping the business owner up at night and come up with the creative solution using your products, there’s nothing else another station can do that can help that client – they get your product, your idea and they get you. If you do a good enough job selling your products and selling yourself, nobody will care about the bottom feeders across the street with their ridiculous promotions and terrible morning guy.