Often, we are struggling with getting long-term customers to pay a higher price or rate or both. Both you and they have become accustomed to the level of spending the relationship had produced over the year. For many that magic number is $500 – although in bigger cities it could be higher. For many reading this who operate in smaller municipalities, it is that magic is the $500.00 mark. But for you it could be $1000, $1500 or $2500. But what ever it is, you can be sure it is a fixed number. As if this is the be-all and end-all for every and all advertising discussion. The reason is simple. It is what we have asked for and trained our customers to expect it.
We are to blame for this level never rising. It was something that we recommended, probably some time ago, as we struggle with the idea of walking into a long-term relationship and reversing course. For many, it is that lack of confidence that comes from not being an expert. We don’t consider ourselves to be experts in our field, so we feel awkward having these uncomfortable conversations, especially when we were the ones that recommended the level of spending our customer is currently maintaining. And one hundred percent of something is better than one hundred percent of nothing. Therefore, nothing is what we do.
All of this changes when you commit to becoming a “Doctor of Advertising Solutions.” It becomes easy to make new recommendations based on new information or new findings, new products, and new methodologies. It can give you extra confidence to have the uncomfortable conversation when you preface it with “trust me, I’m a doctor.” Let’s face it, your customers and your prospects have no idea what it takes to be successful in advertising, but you do. Your doctoral credentials are already present just through that fact, alone. You are the person who controls the access to the audience you represent. And you should never give up the high ground or the doctoral certification. When you are a Doctor of Advertising Solutions, your next recommendation will be your best. When that changes, you will be able to back that up with value and evidence as to why the doctor is correct and laypersons should not be diagnosing themselves.
When approaching a long-term customer with the idea of change, it can be overly daunting. However, not when you are the Doctor. That conversation goes more like this. “I know I sold you on this and told you how great it was going to be. Now, I am telling you something different. The world has changed, and we have to change with it. I can see that is going to be a challenge to wrap your arms around. What got us here won’t keep us here. As your advisor, and your Doctor of Advertising, Ic an tell you what I gave you years ago was the correct dosage of penicillin, then, but not now.” Think about what other products and services have increased in price and value over the course of time. It is insanity to think that the cost of advertising has not kept pace with the general market. I am sure your customer’s business has had cost increases in fuel, personnel, land, rent, etc. It would be counterintuitive to think that cost increases have not kept pace in other industries.
That customer conversation continues. “But the world has become more saturated with advertising messages – therefore we need to change the prescription on your medicine. In 1998 people were bombarded with 2500 messages, daily. In 2008, that number was 3500; how about 2018, it was 5500, Today, it is as many as 6500 messages every day. Just like with your medicines, we have to up the dosage to break through the clutter. We need you to have a louder voice in the marketplace, which means more messages, more frequency to ensure you have the same or better rate of success. We can no longer stay at the level we are at – we must increase.” When you are a Doctor of Advertising Solutions you can say this, and you can say it with confidence, and be believed. When you are a commodities broker and your relationship is completely transactional, you cannot.
When you are dealing with new customers, you start with telling them your Philosophy of Doctoral Practice. It sets the tone for the rest of your conversations and the rest of your relationship. You cannot start recommending solutions to problems unless you establish your credibility to do so, upfront. When I do this, it sounds something like this. “Do you believe that what I am about to show you has your best interest at heart? We have done extensive research into what works for our customers. What I am about to show you is based on a model of who is having success advertising with us. If I didn’t think this would benefit you, I wouldn’t be showing it to you.” All this is said in a calming, reassuring manner. I can do this as I have practiced this conversation over and over and have said these words thousands of times. Practice – sounds like something a doctor would have.
I will then continue with my Philosophy of Doctoral Practice presentation. “I will be very transparent about showing you what works and why. You expect me to say this since I am a salesperson, but I am only successful when you are successful. So, trust me when I say that advertising only fails for three reasons: (a) poor message, (b) mismatching the target, (c) not enough frequency. It is one hundred percent in our control, yours, and mine, to make sure none of these things happen. Our monthly recommended investment levels are based on what our current customers are doing and where we know businesses will find success. Success in advertising rarely happens when you buy less of it. Do we agree?” The last sentence is the clincher. Get your customer to agree that you are the expert, the doctor, and your advice should be followed since you are the doctor. This agreement gives you permission-based authority to recommend solutions for your customers and prospects.
How do you become a Doctor of Advertising Solutions? Commit yourself to learn your craft and your customer’s business space. Subscribe to their journals and trade magazines. Turn on your google alerts and news feeds to your customer’s business sector. Study what is working with your products and services. Know the latest trends and tactics that you can present to your client base. Collect client testimonials of what is working so you have peer validation you can draw on to reinforce your doctoral recommendations. Dedicate yourself to learning more about your craft every day. Practice saying the words and phrases of this advanced ask conversation, so your confidence level rises. As your confidence rises, so will your success rate.
Believe in yourself and believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that your solution for your customer’s success is the absolute best thing you can do for them, given the conditions of the market. It is not based on what they are willing to risk, but on what it takes to cure the disease. Doctors rarely make their diagnosis based on what the customer can afford. They make it based on what is best for the patient. We must look at all our customers the same way. When we write a prescription for their success, it needs to be the best thing for the patient, not just what they are willing to risk. When you are a doctor, you concentrate on the cure. All your efforts and recommendation are based on treating the problem at hand. That way when your customer questions you or pushes back, you can say “Trust me, I’m a doctor.”