The Paradox of Choice – Selling in Hyper Competitive Markets

The Paradox of Choice. With so many media choices available how do local businesses’ choose what’s best?

I recently attended a BIA/Kesley webinar entitled Local Media Sales Performance. The webinar reviewed the findings from a survey they conducted with local media sales reps across a wide array of media. While there was a considerable amount of interesting information regarding the increasingly complex life of local media sales consultants, I kept coming back to one thought- “The Paradox of Choice” – not only its’ effects on the local media consultant but more importantly the effect on the local businesses they serve.

Less than 15 years ago the prevailing media mix for small and medium sized businesses (SMB’s) was relatively simple. It included local newspaper, yellow pages, maybe direct mail, and if their budgets were substantial, perhaps radio, television or outdoor.

And then came the rise of the Internet and with that a blistering pace of new local media choices that is accelerating today with the social media explosion, smartphone penetration and the world of  “i-everything.” Consider the following illustration that was published by Tom Denford of ID COMMS in a 2011 blog post:

Overwhelming media choices drives the need for better sales training

WOW! That is a tremendous number of choices, and this graphic is obsolete! While increased choice is typically considered to be a good thing, at what point does the number of choice become overwhelming and confusing. Herein lies “The Paradox of Choice”; more options and more flexibility but more confusion and complexity at the same time.

Imagine if you’re an SMB owner or manager trying to market your business. When there is so much to chose from, how do you know what’s best? Who do you listen to? Who can help you navigate through all the choices so you invest your precious advertising dollars wisely, remain competitive and realize your business goals?

During the webinar BIA/Kelsey shared information from their Local Commerce Monitor (LCM) Wave 15 report, 4th quarter 2011, confirming that SMB’s are struggling to make sense of the new media world. While they are clear about the traditional choices, 79% of them are confused by or don’t understand the myriad of digital choices available, and 46% of them are not clear on the ROI of digital media.

Media companies that help buyers make informed decisions about which solutions are best for them will differentiate themselves and become the trusted partner SMB’s are so desperate to have.

So how can media companies do this? By establishing a clearly defined process and selling model for their media consultants that helps SMBs establish the criteria by which they will determine which media solution is best.

Buying criteria should be established in each of four areas:

  1. Media options
  2. How the provider will support those options
  3. The provider’s qualifications as a partner
  4. The investment the client is willing to make.

Each of these categories provides the media consultant an opportunity to differentiate amongst all the alternatives available. Once the criteria are identified and understood, evidence that the criteria will be met, that the buyer deems credible, should be defined so the buyer has an assurance of value and a clear means for determining which alternative is best.

Developing buying criteria is a critical step when selling in an extremely competitive environment because:

  • It de-commoditizes the media solutions by establishing criteria for the “best” media option, support, provider and investment level.
  • It circumvents price as the only differentiator thereby protecting margins.
  • It establishes the media consultant as a valuable and trusted partner.

Does your company have a process for your media consultants to help clients establish buying criteria? Do you think helping your clients establish buying criteria would be beneficial?  We look forward to reading about your thoughts and experiences dealing with “The Paradox of Choice”.

Note: Interested in listening to BIA/Kelsey’s sales webinar referenced in this article? The following offers a link to an on-demand video version:

Thriving (Or Not) – A Revealing Look Into the World of Local Media Sales Consultants

Watch Now

Axiom Sales Kinetics LLC Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250