In 2008, I was a General Sales Manager at a large market broadcast affiliate. And I distinctly remember feeling the weight of my world—a local station and our digital platforms—heavy across my shoulders. As with many other companies during that difficult time, we implemented layoffs, pay-cuts, and hiring freezes that seemed to go on forever.
Being the station’s leader in ad revenue generation, I felt the livelihoods of my colleagues and co-workers on the line. Although I wish I could say it was negative inflation, I heard the phrase “revenue solves all problems” too many times by everyone—from station colleagues to the General Manager to corporate executives across the street—not to take it to heart.
I imagine many of you are feeling that same pressure now. And, I imagine there have been some sleepless nights, as there were for me.
During that time, my own self-management was critical. Being positive, healthy, and just as important… being open to, as well as seeking out, resources to help me navigate the tough time.
Some of the latter came in the form of attending learning events. One particular speaker’s distinctive message helped me during the early months of the Great Recession. Ironically, I can’t recall the speaker’s name, but I do clearly remember the concept, which I’ll play forward here.
He started out with the fairly well-known value equation: Value = Quality divided by Cost. (At JDA, we speak to value equaling price—one doesn’t pay more than their perception of value.) And, he provided a unique interpretation on the specifics of the Quality metric. He saw quality as a form of Customer Appreciation…
And laid out four distinct and executable steps to achieve maximum customer appreciation:
1) Did you do what was expected?
2) Did you respond to what was requested?
3) Did you make suggestions? (As an expert, did you help guide, recommend, or pitch-in directly?)
4) Did you do something extra, above and beyond, that imprinted your brand on the mind of the customer?
Why this spoke to me, and why I hope you find value in it…
It became an easily-digestible road map, of sorts, that ultimately assisted the sales team, as well as the company, to steer through dark and tough times.
By focusing on and developing maximum customer appreciation, we developed strong success stories that were repeatedly recounted by our customers, and best of all, utilized by the team in closing prospects and new local revenue.
These proof of performance stories enabled us to continue to differentiate our brand, stand out from any competition, and helped with our sense of purpose in a positive way.
We also weathered those years significantly better than our competition.
What proof of performance stories do you have now, what customer did you imprint on, what success story can be played forward, what can be created?
(View more Prime Time Leadership posts on current happenings in media leadership here:)
We’re having lots of conversations with senior leaders about subjects like this. If we can be a sounding board for you or your company during this time, please reach out. firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com