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Local Marketing Trends- What’s changed Selling Media over the Years

Episode 34: release date Nov 9, 2020

Jim Doyle Looks Back: Getting Thrown Out of His First Sales Call, Losing $1 million, and Lessons from Kodak – Listen to this episode or read the transcript below.


00:01 S1:  GORDON: Well, welcome everyone, and welcome to my lovely and extraordinary co-host, Corey.  COREY: Man, I get more compliments every time we do this. Now I’m lovely. I love it.  Lovely. Yeah, well, you know what, you’re not? You’re not interesting. Gordon: I find that interesting. We can’t use that word anymore, according to our colleague, Jim Brown, remember?  Did you see his nastygram? COREY: Yeah, do you have it there in front of you? GORDON:  Who is this guy, anyway? He says, “As I listen to our podcast, we’re over-using the word interesting. Everything is interesting.” And then he suggests some substitutions — compelling, baffling, useful, fascinating. Extraordinary. Well, that’s very intriguing. It’s intriguing. It is a peculiar… Oh, it’s unexpected. Perplexing, it’s a conundrum. It’s a conundrum. We have an interesting… a really interesting interview. COREY: Yes, we do. GORDON: OK, Jim says, “Okay, go ahead and give me the finger, Gordon, but I’m trying to keep us from sounding like Trump, it’s gonna be HUGE.” OK, we have an interview we wanted to get to right away, Corey, with Jim Doyle.  You ever met him? COREY: Yeah, yeah, a couple of times. 

01:16 S1: GORDON: At our conferences, yeah, he’s a great guy, really well known in the industry, and he is retiring, so we did a bit of a bit of an exit interview with him to just kinda get his thoughts, and I’d like to get to that right away. So we are going to do that. So here is our interview with Jim Doyle.

01:35 S1:  GORDON: OK, we’re back and I’ve got with me my good friend and long-time business acquaintance here, Jim Doyle from Jim Doyle and Associates. Jim, it is an honor to have you on the show that you… It’s just… It’s great to have you here. It is bad to see that you are retiring…

01:55 S2:  JIM:  Retiring is the wrong word. I’m transitioning, I’ve got a book that’s coming out, I got a lot of things going on, so there’s a me to a good chapter.

02:05 S1: GORDON: There isn’t a week that goes by that I wish I weren’t transitioning. There is a difficult business transition that a lot of us have gone through. I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of pain over the years and very difficult transitions, but let’s go back to the beginning. First, how did you get into the sales training business?

02:29 S2: JIM: There are two answers. They’re both true. One is that this is absolutely my dream job. I’ve known that since the first time I ever spoke in front of an audience and worked with the sales team. This is what I wanted to do. So that’s answer number one. Answer number two, equally true, is, I was involved in a radio station deal in Rochester, New York.  The format change didn’t work, the partnership blew up, I lost a million dollars, and you too can be a sales trainer. That was devastating. That’s what happens sometimes.

03:03 S1: GORDON:  So looking back, so you got in the industry… Or in the sales training business, I guess in 1991, 30 years ago. So tell me what’s different about a salesperson’s job today — that’s the easy one — and tell me what’s not change one single bit…

03:23 S2: JIM: Well, I actually made my first sales call 49 years ago on a car dealer in Brunswick, Maine, and I got thrown out, so that’s what hasn’t changed. Once in awhile the client makes your question your career. And we have all been thrown out, I think.  Obviously, what hasn’t changed is that if you’re gonna be successful in sales, you need to have a significant amount of drive, you need to have a desire to make a difference for your customers. I’m writing this new book called “Selling with the Servant’s Heart,” because I really believe it’s not just the drive to win, it’s about, “Do I really wanna make a difference for my customers?” So the solution is that we have today to bring or so much more robust, and therefore, I think today’s sellers have to be smarter, they have to be better at not just diagnosis, but being able to translate diagnosis into solutions so that they’re not just selling the new shiny object. They are really selling something that makes a difference for the customer.

04:37 S1: GORDON: That’s great, and that’s a great title for the book, selling like a servant, and you really do have to believe in your products. Almost a religious thing. Because it’s like, I know this can help you. I have a desire to serve just to make a huge difference, not just a transaction, and believing in the product and believing you can help somebody that you’re trying to try to work with.  Good point.  Again, great, great title. You are so revered in the industry, people just love you and really, really respect you, and so it’s heartening to see that you’re still gonna provide some level of insight to the industry. I did wanna ask you about one thing in particular, and I know you’ve done a lot of work in the TV side of the business. That is, we see a lot of companies either trying to embrace becoming a media consultant or trying to retrench from that, particularly in the sale of like digital services, which they see as a low-margin business.  So TV in particular has been really hesitant to do that. Some are trying, and a lot really reticent. They cite the old “trading analog dollars for digital dimes” thing.

05:47 S1: So, are you buying this marketing consultant strategy? Is that really required?  Is somebody just gonna die if their sales reps don’t become consultants?  Is it necessary to maintain ad revenue? What are your thoughts?

06:00 S2: JIM:  Well, I think so. I have always been focused on being a needs-based seller, but I wanna specifically address the question.  I think you’re right.  I think there is some reticence of people to totally embrace that, especially they get nervous about the margins on different products. We’ve had a traditional TV business that’s been such a high-margin business forever.  But I had a client dinner last summer, and the client said something that I just thought I couldn’t agree with more. He said, “we used to say, (and I’m talking about 10, 15, 20 years ago) if your controlled production, you control the account.” Today, I think the 2020 version of that is, if you control digital, you control the account, because it is a digital first world.  I’m not sure I’m gonna have an opportunity to have a dialogue about those high-margin products if I don’t have some ability to have a discussion with them about the digital piece.  And we passionately believe in the combination of the two, and we talk about that all the time, that whole idea of tradition, the combination of both digital and traditional media, we think drives customer results.  But you’ve gotta embrace that and you’ve really, I think if anything, we need to be more consultative than we were 15 years ago.

07:35 S2: In a seller’s market, a transactional seller can work, can do all right, because you just make a lot of calls and ask a lot of people to buy. But we’re not in a seller’s market in the TV business anymore, so we’ve gotta create the demand, create the need. And the only way you’re gonna do that is if you do a comprehensive diagnosis and needs analysis.

07:56 S1: GORDON: You made some great points. So this is kind of an exit interview. Okay, and I know you’re not fully exiting, so I get it. OK.  Let’s pretend.  In exit interviews, you get the opportunity to throw darts.  And you’re not a dart-throwning guy…. but if it were me, Jim, I’d be looking back and say,  “You know those sons of bitches are ruinin’ the SOB it is… I run freaking industry!”  OK, not I’m gonna ask you to try to do that, but look back– and you can generalize it or soft-pedal it or whatever you want, or you can sharpen that dart and throw, right, exactly at a bully. What’s wrong with the industry?  As you look back, what makes you shake your head and go, Man, I wish this would happen?  Or if someone would do this. or this would change things dramatically.  What is it? Give me something.

08:47 S2: JIM: I think that’s a great question. So I lived in Rochester, New York, the home of Kodak…..  When I moved to Rochester, Kodak had 75,000 employees in Monroe County alone. And Kodak, many people don’t remember this, actually invented digital photography.  But to embrace digital photography required that they had to look away from this high-margin traditional business that had made everybody wealthy and had grown that company beyond anything that people can imagine. And that’s the hardest business challenge for any organization, how do you change when in the face of changing, you actually walk away from a highly successful business problems?

09:40 S1: GORDON:  That is a great example. They were in the silver halide film business.  JIM: Exactly, exactly.  GORDON:  High, high margin stuff, high margin stuff, bonafide Kodak film.  GORDON: And then they crammed the business model into these kiosks that are still in some drugstores, thinking, well, that digital photography…. People will want to print it on high-quality code paper. They missed the market entirely.

10:04 S2: JIM:  Exactly, but here, they invented digital photography that was invented in Kodak labs, and I’m not suggesting that if I’ve been at Kotak, I would have been smarter. It’s easily to be the consultant, we know.  Give advice and leave town immediately.  But I think it speaks to the challenge of embracing a business model when it means that you have to actually compete with a highly successful model.  Very difficult to do.

10:37 S1: GORDON: Take it just a little bit further. What does that mean for TV? What should they be doing? What does it mean for radio? What should they be doing? Fighting against Pandora? Joining forces with them?  And TV fighting against Hulu or joining forces with them?

10:53 S2: JIM:  Well, it’s a great question. I’m not certain that I, from the sales perspective, know the right answer to that. I think if we accept the fact that we’re in the video business, that suggests that if there are opportunities to sell Hulu or other streaming systems services on a local basis, I’m gonna wanna embrace that.  But that’s the Kodak challenge, because that’s gonna be a 20% margin business if we’re lucky.  And we’re in a, even today, a 40% margin business. So I think that’s the ultimate challenge. I have to say, I am not one that believes that television is over.  So we have 10 consultants, we make thousands of sales calls a year, we see magical, powerful results when you combine traditional television with digital.  So you’re not gonna get me to say that that game is finished, but I think we do have to embrace change and we’ve gotta be more open for that.

12:01 S1: GORDON:  Yeah, television remains really, really powerful, as do many other types of media, radio and even newspapers to a great extent, direct mail, for God’s sake, never die. So we just got about a minute left.  If you could offer a parting shot over the shoulder. You’re leaving, and then somebody says, “Hey, Jim, before you go, one last thing, one thing… Just give me one thing.”  …… What’s the one thing that would keep them from being a casualty in the 2020s as we look forward? What would it be?

12:32 S2: JIM: I was a teaching in a management program, we did at Notre Dame.  A Notre Dame business professor, a smart, smart guy, said something I’ve used for years. He said, “If we failed to change the world goes on.  We just become increasingly irrelevant.”  I always think about, if you were a newspaper sales manager 20 years ago, what would you change?  If you could roll back the clock, what would you do different?  Gordon, I think the missing pieces in our business model is that we don’t have enough deep connections with our customers at the customer level.  And therefore we have an industry being driven by media buyers that make us into a commodity.  And that starts from the general manager of a TV or radio station on down, to really embrace customers and become committed to getting results for them regardless of platform.

13:34 S1: GORDON: Listen to your customer, that’s such great basic advice, especially now as things are changing.  JIM:  more than ever.  GORDON: So clearly.  (At Borrell Associates) we have a product to sell, our product tends to be Compass, which is an online access to all of our data for a local market, and that is the square peg that we want to fit in the round hole a lot of times. It’s harder to listen to a client and say, “What are your needs, what do you really want.? And then if you don’t exactly have that, then you can’t sell ’em anything. So I’m preaching to the choir. You know what I’m talking about.

14:12 S2:  JIM: But I think I’d be more directive. If I could wave a magic wand and have one thing happen, it would be general managers with more face-to-face customer time and less office time.

14:23 S1: GORDON: Yeah, that’s interesting. I’ll tell you my magic wand.  You wanna hear it?  It relates to something we saw a little bit earlier in the year, and something a CEO had told me, and that is, the composition of the boards of directors of a lot of these big public companies changes and they’re no longer just bankers and people who are steeped in the media industry.  They become more technology and technology or marketing-technology people. Those are the people who will change the company because they won’t allow the CEO getting away with saying, “And the way we’re managing this quarter is we’re cutting costs and finding more synergies to…”  No, no, no, you keep selling the old stuff!  This new stuff over here is growing, and I think that would really dramatically change the company.  But that’s my magic wand, and it probably will never work.

15:12 S1: Jim, it’s been great. On behalf of the industry…. thank you, thank you for everything you have done. You have really made an impact in the media industry with those who have been smart enough to avail themselves of your services and of the services of your company that will live on as you go off into the sunset and write your book.

15:34 S2: JIM: You as well, my friend. Thank you for doing this. What a privilege.

15:40 S1: COREY: I really like that interview quite a bit, Gordon, I won’t say it’s interesting, but I’ve been a big proponent in past lives and when working inside of media companies of trying to push the idea that we need to be consultants. and wanted the reps I was supporting to go out there and be marketing consultants. However, working with you for the last… what, six years? I’ve become jaded. GORDON: In what way?  COREY: Being exposed to a lot more media companies and types of media, you’re asking a heck of a lot out of a sales rep to not only sell the thing that makes the money, but now I have to be a holistic media consultant. Can that really, really, honestly have an effect? GORDON: Yeah, but to be realistic about it, I don’t think it’s as pure as having a real go-getter sales woman or a sales guy that is “ABC” — always be closing — right? And then you’re telling them to stop and slow down and learn about meta-tags and SEO, White Hat practices and TikTok and everything else. I think they have to know enough about that to open up the conversation and to gauge a little bit in it, but then quickly to turn it over to an expert or else they’re gonna get in trouble. You don’t wanna slow the sales rep down from ABC — always be closing. I’ll equate it to Home Depot, you know?

17:13 S1: You what you’re in Home Depot for, right? There’s 15 different aisles — and they got outdoor stuff and everything else, but you don’t go in there and you ask for beanbag, right? Excuse me, sir (the guy in the orange apron), where are the be-bags? And he can tell you, just go to a different store. But there are a lot of other things there. He’s not gonna be an expert in hardware or drills.  He might be more of an expert in the outdoor stuff or in plywood or what, but there’s gonna be a store full of people to help.  That’s the way I see media companies. COREY: But I call BS on that, right? Because then you’re putting it back on me, if you’re coming in and saying you’re a marketing consultant or immediate consultant, then I damn well expect you to be a marketing consultant or a media consultant. What you really are… What you’re suggesting is that you’re a marketing consultant within the umbrella of the TV station and the things that TV station can offer. Now that’s fine, that’s fine if you’re gonna be that. But don’t call yourself a marketing strategist or anything. call yourself marketing pragmatist.

18:21 S1: I’m here to sell you and to consult on the things that I can touch. That’s really what I’m here to do. GORDON: You’re not gonna see any business cards that say marketing pragmatist on them, no. And they probably shouldn’t say marketing consultant. They might say account representative. I think that’s fine.  But it’s just more, Corey, in practice, I am a very strong advocate of being as smart as you can be in your particular area, if you’re an advertising sales rep and know, when to say, “You know, I’m not sure about that, but… Hold just a second, I’m gonna get the other guy on the line and he really knows a lot about this, you’re gonna love this guy, just hold on.”  Oversell. Get that person to talk with them. But again, as I said, if you got the person you’re trying to reach, thinking about whether they should advertise on TikTok, and we know that the percentage of advertisers using TikTok or planning to is doubling (even though it’s only 6%).  You want that guy pick up the phone and call on you, “Hey, can you get me in touch with your guy about TikTok?” What do you think about that?

19:29 S1: COREY: OK, yeah, don’t get me wrong. I believe everything Jim said. I stand behind it. Yes, you need to know all of the stuff. In fact, I go even one step more, is that there’s one thing we aren’t talking about. It’s that being one of these marketing consultants or whatever the term is you wanna use… Yes, you have to know your media, but you also have to know consumers and consumer behavior, and that’s something that is just another world, and that drives some of the ideas and some of the solutions you can bring forward. GORDON: Yeah, suffice it to say, I don’t think you can get by much longer as a media sales rep, just knowing one vertical thing, television advertising and how great it is, or outdoor advertising or whatever. You really do have to be a lot more educated, a lot more… I guess well-rounded ….to be able to maintain that client. It’s just the way of the world they’re combining so much in their media campaigns these days. I really like what Jim had to say, particularly looking back on the industry and realizing that a lot of the very basic principles about listening, you know, listening to the client and solving their needs… I’m sorry, I really do exist today, even though there are a lot of other things that have changed.

20:33 S1: COREY: Yeah, it really is. He brought up the Kodak example, which was really fun.  And his whole thing in saying that you have to know your stuff regardless of platform… I give him props for that. That was one of the last things he said. GORDON: Yeah, well, Corey, thank you, and thank you everybody for spending another wonderful 20-some minutes with us. We hope you’ve enjoyed it, Corey, thanks, it’s always a pleasure to have a tête-à-tête with you.  COREY: Well, it’s always interesting, isn’t it, Gordon?  GORDON: It is. Thanks, everybody, bye!

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