Know your competition

Chuck McKay updated his Fishing For Customers Blog this week with this challenge:

Imagine yourself the quarterback of a football team. You understand the game. You know what the goal looks like, and how to score. There’s only one problem. You don’t have any idea of where you are on the field. You could be on your own 30-yard line. On the other hand, you may be within ten yards of your competitor’s goal. What should your next play be? Should you rush up the middle? Should you try for the long forward pass? Should you call in the place kicker? Truthfully, you can’t answer this one. If you tried, shame on you. You’re gambling the future of your team without any idea of where you are or where you’re going. Navigating Without Landmarks I was recently discussing this tendency of business owners to “shoot blind” with Wizard of Ads © partner, Michael Keeseee, who directed me to the February 19 issue of Fortune Magazine, and an article titled The Pepsi Challenge.

“Nooyi also gave a pivotal presentation to the board in 1998 – just as the heat from Coke was becoming unbearable – that dissected the rival’s business model and made a persuasive case that its double-digit growth was not sustainable.

It was a tour de force,” says Enrico, who is convinced that “at that moment the PepsiCo board understood Coke’s business model better than Coke’s board did.” Four months after the presentation Coke stock peaked at $88 and began a long downward slide.”

Can you imagine knowing your competitor’s business so well that you could predict how that competitor will react to various changes in the marketplace? What might Coke do if the price of corn syrup went up by 10 percent? Could Pepsi know which preemptive moves to take for that, or for any other business eventuality?

Based on their stock prices since 1998, the answer appears to be, “yes.”

But, if you’re not one of the big guys…

OK. Granted, the world’s a different place for two corporate behemoths who can afford hundreds of analysts each to do nothing but gather business intelligence and study each other.

But, I remember a weekend in 1979 in which the general manager of the company I worked for took the entire management team away for the weekend. Our mission? To presume the next Presidential election’s possible outcomes, and to predict our competitor’s actions under each scenario.

I don’t believe it was coincidence that over the next two years we grew 17 percent and 22 percent respectively.

How well do you know your competitors? Do you know where your goal is? How accurately can you gage your own field position?

Can you afford not to sequester your key employees for a weekend of brainstorming?

Chuck McKay is a marketing consultant who works with professional practices and owner operated businesses. Questions about obtaining business intelligence and eventuality planning may be directed to Read more!

Extra day=Extra training

We have an extra day in February this year, in case you didn’t know. So here’s an extra bit of wisdom. He’s become one of my favorite no-nonsense sales trainers. Art Sobczak wrote this in his email this week:

This Week’s Tip:
So You THINK You Have a Hot Prospect?
Yeah, Right.


Omaha, Nebraska is where my business is
based and where I maintain a primary residence.

As I travel the country and mention Omaha,
I hear a number of comments. Typical lame
farmer jokes (this is a metro area of close to a
million people), and comments from uninformed
elitists who think it is the same place as
Oklahoma (hullo, that would be a STATE).

Also, many people associate Omaha with,

-Omaha Steaks

-Mutual of Omaha and Wild Kingdom

-Warren Buffet

-For sports fans, the College World Series.
That is the focus of today’s Tip. (Trust me,
there is a huge sales point here.)

Right now, even though much of the country
is still experiencing the frigidness of winter,
the college baseball season has begun, and
the goal of thousands of players is to get their
team to Omaha in June for the national

I’ve written about the College World Series many
times over the years. If you are a sports fan, you
really should try to get here to experience it.

The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association)
does not hold any other of its many championship
tournaments at a fixed location other than the
College World Series. They know it would be tough
for any other community to support it and embrace it
like Omaha has over the past 50 years.

And, Omaha wants to keep it forever. As a result,
every time the NCAA says “Jump!,” the power people
in Omaha say, “How high, sir?”

Well, the NCAA has said that they want a new
stadium in which to play the games. A new,
$140 million downtown stadium. Of course,
Omaha said, “OK, but we need a new 20-year
contract to keep the tournament here.”

I’ll spare you all the details, but what it all has
boiled down to is that a major power struggle
has taken place here between the mayor, and
a few people on a commission that was appointed
several years ago to run a new arena that was
built. The ridiculous bickering over where to
build this thing could potentially mean losing
the entire College World Series.

OK, let me get to the sales point.

Yesterday, the mayor and a few other high-
powered execs on his own stadium committee
presented the NCAA with their proposal for a
building a new $140 million stadium, asking for
a 20-year contract.

The NCAA, which considers itself perhaps even
more important and powerful than The Vatican,
The Supreme Court, the IRS, and
perhaps even Oprah, replied,

“That’s nice. But come back to us when you
have broad-based support in Omaha.”

And the Omaha people left with that as a
result of their “sales call.”

Kind of like a sales rep who gets off the phone,
thinking he has a hot prospect when he hears,

“Sounds good, we’ll give it some thought.
Get back to us.”


“Broad-based support”?

Now, I was not in the room, but if I was, I
would be waving my hand wildly, like a
second-grader, and would ask this simple

“Excuse me, but could you please define
what you mean by ‘broad-based

I mean, if you were going to spend $140
MILLION to secure a sale, isn’t it reasonable to
know exactly what you need to do in order to
earn that right?

Sales reps: look at your follow up files right now.
Pick a few of the prospects you are working on,
particularly the ones you think you have a good
shot with. Why do you think that?

Did they tell you something that sounded like
the “broad-based support” phrase? If so, I bet
you don’t get the sale.

Sales Managers: How many times have you sat
with reps, reviewing their pipeline, asking about
specific prospects, and you hear things like
the broad-based support phrase? It often sounds

“They said they were going to do something.
They just needed to work a few things out.”

Here’s a pretty simple suggestion
that can move your sales process along more
quickly, and help you get more yes answers:

Get specifics on exactly and specifically what
needs to happen next. Leave no doubt.

“What specifically needs to happen on your end to
move forward?”

“What will we need to do in order to make this happen?”

“When you say you need ______, what does that
mean? What does that look like?”

“How do you measure ______?”

“When you are evaluating/demo-ing the product,
what criteria will you use to judge it, and what will
you need to see to move forward?”

Some squeamish types might argue that this is
being pushy. No, it is business.

And if the mayor calls, I’ll be happy to go on the
next sales call with the NCAA.

We encourage you to reprint these Tips in your own email, online, or conventionally-
printed publications. It’s free, as long as credit is given.

Art Sobczak, President, Business By Phone Inc. 13254 Stevens St.,
Omaha, NE 68137,
(402) 895-9399. Or,

Please Pass this Issue Along to Friends, Co-Workers,
Customers … Anyone Who Could Benefit.

They’ll appreciate it, and so will I!

Or, simply have them go to and enter the email address.

Targeting your Advertising

Earlier today I wrote about Matching. Click here for details.

And here’s a story about how the newspaper biz can fine tune their advertising efforts:

New Tool Can Go Sub-ZIP Level For Newspaper Ads
Ad Age
A media-buying firm says it can now buy print ads at a sub-ZIP code level. Interpublic’s Newspaper Services of America claims to have developed a new analytical tool that can help its clients — which include Home Depot, Sears, CVS and Bridgestone — target consumers even more narrowly on a geographic basis than has been possible to date.

The tool lets advertisers that use major newspapers to blanket a whole metro area focus more precisely on individual neighborhoods so they can hone in on the homes of their most-desired customers via a combination of newspaper zoned editions, inserts, direct mail, shoppers and other publications, says NSA Media Chief Development Officer Craig Desens.

While that could be bad news for slumping newspapers that have benefited from widespread buys, Desens notes it could also bring in new business. – Read the whole story…

What does it take to BEAT Commercial Skippers?

The Wall Street Journal has the answer…

Creative commercials.

But let me add to that.

Creativity only gets results if your company is remembered.

Try this experiment.

Next time you are watching a show, record it too.

When the show is over, write down as many commercials as you can remember and list them by the company or product.

Then review the tape. Fast Forward to the commercials and see how well you did. Actually it’s how well the advertisers did.

Here’s the story from the WSJ:

Why DVR Viewers Recall Some TV Spots

NBC Study Tracks
What Is Absorbed
In Fast Forward
February 26, 2008; Page B5

What do Matt Damon and an animated piece of phlegm have in common? Viewers seem to remember them especially well, according to a new test that measured what people recall about TV ads, even when they’re zapping through them.

The test is part of a continuing effort by General Electric‘s NBC Universal to measure the effectiveness of television ads that viewers skip through with their digital video recorders. The bottom line: Viewers still remember the spots — or at least some elements of them — even when they’re watching at up to six times the speed of regular live TV. (READ MORE)

Product Placement Replaces TV Commercials

It may be one of the ways traditional broadcast media can save itself. Unfortuneately, it hasn’t happened yet. But one of our local news channels has done it during the 11pm news.

They simply mention the sponsor several times and flash their logo and name, but keep giving us story after story after story.

Here’s some research that shows what is happening right now with the current arrangement of TV show, commercial break, TV show, etc:

Time Shift TV Viewing

According to a recently released Digital Life America tracking study conducted by Solutions Research Group, nearly 80 million Americans (43% of the online population) have watched one of their favorite TV shows on the Internet, up significantly from 12 months ago when that figure was just 25%. 20% of the American online population said they watch TV on the web on a weekly basis, and that’s ahead of the 14% who say they take advantage of cable’s video-on-demand offerings.

The sample of Americans aged 12 and older said that ‘to watch a specific show’ was the main reason for 21% of all visits to major network websites in November 2007. Of the major network sites, received the highest user experience score among those who streamed a TV show, with 52% rating their overall experience as ‘excellent,” followed by (44%)

Why People Visit Major Network Sites (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox)

Reason for Visit

% of Viewers (viewed 1 or more network websites in previous month)

Check schedule


View specific show








Weather, traffic




Source: Digital Life America Q4 ’07, February 2008

Top major network TV shows viewed on the Internet included Heroes, Grey’s Anatomy, Dancing with the Stars, Ugly Betty, Chuck, CSI and House, Kitchen Nightmares, Smallville and Gossip Girl.

Those who viewed one of the leading 20 prime time shows in the past 24 hours were asked to identify the source of viewing. Overall, 25% of prime time viewing was time shifted using a DVR, broadband, mobile or similar. Among viewers 18-34, one-third (34%) of viewing was time-shifted. And among 18-49 households with a DVR, a remarkable 55% of the leading 20 shows were time-shifted.

If a household has a DVR and broadband, DVR is the preferred means of time-shifting. DVR users are becoming more aggressive in skipping commercials-65% say they “always” skip commercials compared to 52% a year ago.

Skip Commercials on DVR (% DVR owners)


Always skip

Frequently skip

Oct. 2006



Nov. 2007



Source: Digital Life America Q4 ’07, February 2008

For more information, please visit SRG here

Radio’s relationship with the WWW

It’s nice to see someone else that “gets it”. In a few years the new cars, trucks, SUV’s and whatever else we will be driving will be equipped with wireless internet as standard (not optional) equipment. (CLICK HERE TO SEE HOW SOON)

When that occurs, the revolution that is occurring in the television broadcasting business will spread to the radio broadcasting business.

No longer will I be limited to the FM and AM stations I can pick up FREE, I will be able to tune to any source of entertainment, including radio stations world wide and listen as I am driving.

So instead of having 15 local choices, I will have 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 choices. (More or less.)

No longer will I need to apply for a license from the F.C.C., spend millions on equipment and a building and engineers etc to have a legitimate broadcasting station.

In the olden days, I had friends in the neighborhood that set up pirate radio stations until they were shut down by the F.C.C.

Today we have a local station that is Internet Broadcast only at

What will become of the traditional broadcast stations with the towers and transmitters? Read what Mark Ramsey has to say on his radio insiders blog

The new face of Internet radio

Yesterday I visited an Internet radio station (details about this station much later).

That’s what you’re supposed to call it, I guess.

Because they are an Internet radio station that has a full commitment to things that are very much unrelated to “radio” and much more related to “Internet.”

One of the things radio stations fail to generally understand is that their existence online is not limited to buying a website template from a dedicated radio website template developer and pasting up banner ads and a stream player to their heart’s content.

For radio, the Internet is not a brand extension, contrary to conventional thinking. It is the new brand.

So the question your station must ask itself is this: What would we be and do if we didn’t have a broadcast tower at all and only had a website? How would we build this thing?

Granted, we function primarily in our local community, so the broadcast tower is our most significant marketing tool for our website (rather than the other way around), but what should our brand experience be online?

What community elements do we offer? What video do we provide? Can you get traffic and weather and news updates via TXT or email? How often does the content change (the answer should be “constantly”)? Do listener hear everything you have when they listen to your stream or does the website add a visual and interactive component that your visitors (not listeners) can’t live without? Is there a game-related element to the site? Do you encourage listeners to tell others about it via online links? In what ways are we either the best in the world or the most different at whatever we do?

How big is your commitment to making this happen?

Or are you too busy cutting staff to make an investment of this type in your future, one which clearly won’t pay off tomorrow?

Compare your efforts to those of the Internet radio station I visited, which is plainly planning for the digital future with a room full of painfully young artists creating digital and video content, live bands rolling through regularly (and a performance room for them to play in), a real-life air studio and another production studio, two station vans in the lot, and a programmer at the wheel who has helmed major radio stations before and knows full well that he is finally constrained not by what he must do, but what he could and should do.

Say “hello” to your new competition, where “radio” is only a tiny slice of the opportunity.

Don’t you wish you worked there?

Shouldn’t this be where you work now?

Yet another advertising medium to spend your money with

Is it harder to pick and choose which advertising medium to use for your business? After all, as the following story from Mediapost states, there are more, and more, and morem and more, and more ways to advertise.

I’ll let you in on a secret that will help you decided how to advertise. It’s called Matching. Click here for how it works.

Here’s the latest from Mediapost:

Convenience Stores Gets Digital Network
by Erik Sass, Thursday, Feb 28, 2008 8:00 AM ET
THE BURGEONING DIGITAL OUT-OF-HOME MARKET is getting yet another new player with the creation by Transworld Media of a new digital network serving over 1,200 independent convenience stores. The network includes convenience stores in Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

Some 100 stores in the Dallas area have already had the equipment installed by Real Digital Media, which created the technology. The rest slated to receive the digital displays on an aggressive schedule over 2008.

Advertisers can buy 15-second, 30-second and one-minute slots through media agencies and third parties, including SeeSaw Networks, which operates its own national network of digital signage and has entered into a strategic partnership with Transworld.

The new Transworld network straddles several high-growth categories, including digital out-of-home and in-store media, both which have proliferated in recent years, including networks targeting convenience store-type retail.

Also on Wednesday, CBS said it is expanding its “Outernet” of place-based video to a number of pharmacies. The expansion brings CBS into partnership with Lifeclinic International, which operates kiosks that monitor vital signs in more than 25,000 pharmacies around the country.

In June 2006 Duane Reade, a New York City pharmacy chain, got a place-based video network courtesy of the In-Store Broadcasting Network. And in 2007, Gas Station TV announced it would expand its network to include video displays in convenience stores attached to gas stations. The in-store video complements digital displays already installed by the company at eye level in gas pumps, created to reach consumers while they fill their tanks.

The move to in-store broadcasting comes as Nielsen In-Store, in partnership with the In-Store Marketing Institute, refines a new metric for measuring in-store media exposure. Nielsen’s coverage includes retail TV, plus radio networks, point-of-purchase displays and other signage.