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Friday Poll: Do You Sell Advertising to Competing Businesses?

    • 1179 posts
    February 8, 2018 9:41 PM PST

    Happy Friday, everyone!

    This week's poll question was prompted by Phil Bernstein's latest blog post, Your Clients' Competitors Are Your Leads. Phil writes, "Sometimes advertising creates new demand for a product or service, but in many cases existing demand shifts from one vendor to another. When your client gains revenue, some of that money would have otherwise gone to a competitor down the street. The guys down the street now need help. You can help them. Should you call? Yes." Click here to read the rest of the article.

    So this week, we'd like to know:

    Do you sell advertising to competing businesses? How do you handle it?

    Looking forward to reading your replies!

    This post was edited by Rebecca Hunt at February 8, 2018 9:42 PM PST
    • 84 posts
    February 9, 2018 4:45 AM PST

    Yes, I do BUT:

    My job is to create Unique Advertising Campaigns for Each of my clients.  

    Often this is accomplished by discovering the USP's of two clients in the same business were different.

    For example, years ago I worked with two dentists in Detroit.  One was very kid friendly, the other was a fanatical expert at the tough problems.  So we positioned them according to their strengths and targeted their campaigns to different audiences with the creative.

    Right now, I work with 5 different HVAC companies which could be more challenging.  3 of them are in a buying co-op with their wholesaler and they are all aware of each other, they are friendly and I host a lunch for them together to roll out the annual plan each year.  Together they spend nearly 90K (and get 1/2 back in co-op).

    I also have a single HVAC company that spends $70K annually. That money includes about $50K in co-op that they get 1/2 back.  Also I have about 1/2 on radio ads and the other 1/2 in digital marketing.  What makes them unique is they have the exclusive endorsement of of afternoon talk show host in all their radio ads and those ads are also used on other stations in town.

    The last one I have is a smaller shop that has ads running in our Saturday morning home improvement show.

    Last year, I also had a 6th competitor, WaterFurnace (a national geo-thermal company) that was heard every hour as a news sponsor pushing government rebates (that are no longer available this year).

    Oh, and besides the 5 I have on the air, there are two other regular HVAC advertisers on our station that I don't handle but they are also spending at least $40K per year too.

    Our audience is big enough to support all of them

    • 67 posts
    February 9, 2018 11:19 AM PST

    I recall being fearful of my position in handling two grocery stores in one town of 40,000. In a town that size you really had no secrets. If you called on two competing businesses, they likely knew it. For me it was my integrity being applied. I knew I needed to offer my best for each client and I knew I could not allow my insider knowledge to enter in to either client's ideas I offered. I questioned each idea mentally to pass the test of integrity. Neither client ever asked about my handling of a competitor along with them.

    It really was not a big deal. What had happened naturally was each grocery store took their strengths to market themselves in different ways. Literally each store's focus was different. It wasn't any different than say Men's Warehouse and a casual attire clothing store. Both stuck to their strengths and there just wasn't much overlap although both wanted each other's customers.

    Because they were 'different', I was able to provide my best ideas to each. If they had not carved out their piece of the market already, it would have been really tough and I would have likely asked that one of the accounts to be assigned to another salesperson.

    By the way, one of the stores paid us to create ads for their in store play. It was a great source of non-traditional revenue. They were using Muzak with a cassette deck (pre-computer days) that was on a timer. Every few minutes was an ad for the store. We personalized it with employee names and services the average shopper might not be aware of. These were mixed in the rotation. We used employee voices too. We even told people the aisle where they could find it. But this is for another topic.

    • 39 posts
    February 12, 2018 7:21 AM PST

    Good insights here. I also limit the number of advertisers in a given category per station.

    I see the competition as good for all involved. It's kind of like when Walgreens and CVS build stores at the same intersection...on purpose. That intersection (which their research has already determined would be good for drug stores) becomes known as the "drug store" area and both see a rise in traffic. Shopping malls get a similar effect.

    I've seen a similar effect on the radio. Two HVAC companies in morning drive both see a good response. The HVAC category, in general, gets a lot of frequency and they both benefit.

    • 1008 posts
    February 15, 2018 11:40 PM PST

    Unless the number of salespeople at your station exceeds the number of businesses in a given category, it's likely you'll be calling on two or more businesses in the same category.

    Can we effectively and objectively serve two clients who happen to be competitors? Sure, provided that we remain impartial, protect confidences and privileged information, and avoid the temptation to abuse such knowledge by playing both clients against one another for personal gain.

    Once an advertiser's message hits the air and is thereby made public by the advertiser, it may be fair game for a competitor; but never, ever before the fact.

    What do you do when you have a new idea that could benefit either prospect, but you have to choose one to pitch first? My tendency might be to prefer the one who needs it more, but that's pretty subjective. One thing I will do before making the presentation is secure the prospect's agreement that he will not use the idea anywhere else, in any form, on any other medium, if he elects not to do it with my station. Fair play cuts both ways.