recession Lessons

SELLING THROUGH ADVERSITY

About Tom’s Book

Over the decades, there have been events that are watershed turning points for local advertisers and their media partners.  Events that become game changers that launch us into periods of “the worst we’ve ever seen.”

October 22, 1987.  “Black Monday”. The Dow Jones fell by 508 points, the largest drop in one day in history.  It was the worst we’d ever seen.

September 11, 2001.  9/11.  It changed the course of our history.  Rules changed for how business was conducted.  It was the worst we’d ever seen.

September 29, 2008.  The Great Recession. On September 29, 2008, the stock market collapsed when the U.S. House of Representatives rejected a bailout bill. By fourth quarter 2008, every business was in panic mode.  So were the managers and account executives at the media outlets they partnered with.  It was the worst we’d ever seen… until now.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has set the next “worst we’ve ever seen” standard.  It will be a tough go for local businesses and their media partners for quite a while.  But there are lessons we can learn from the last “worst we’ve ever seen” climate that can guide us along the way to recovery.

Recession Lessons is a collection of articles written from Tom Ray’s time on the streets during the lead up to and the darkest days of the Great Recession, and the recovery period thereafter.  The articles are a collection of thoughts on sales, advertising, and inspiration/motivation.  The articles appear as they were originally written, along with updated commentary.  The lessons learned from the last “worst we’ve ever seen” can help us navigate the dark waters ahead.

69 different lessons learned during the Great Recession that will help you navigate the current “worst conditions we’ve ever seen.”

What’s inside

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Empathy Selling

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Overcoming WOM

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The Confusion of Choices

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Ways to Reduce Risk

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When to Advertise Price

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How to be a Good Soldier

Introduction

I had five Zoom video meetings today with five individual account executives from across the country. Emotions ranged from optimism to fear to helplessness to utter defeat. It’s tough out there. Damn tough. For everyone.

We are in a very difficult but rewarding business. We help local businesses survive and thrive, we apply our advertising and marketing expertise, using the tools our companies provide—both over the air and digitally—and we help businesses educate and inform their target. It’s all I’ve ever done for more than 35 years, and I love it.

Over the course of those 35 years, I’ve seen good times and some not-so-good times. When the economy is humming, when consumer confidence is high, when business is good, it’s a blast. Optimistic business decision-makers are apt to try new and different things as the risk is lower. Mistakes hurt less. It’s fun. When things are iffy, when disruption is in the air, when gas is $3 a gallon—then $4—when political uncertainty reigns, it gets a little more serious dealing
with local decision-makers.

Then there are events that are watershed specific turning points that change the game.

October 22, 1987. “Black Monday.” The DJIA fell by 508 points (22.6%), the largest percentage drop in one day in history. I was selling radio advertising. I was young—in my late twenties. I knew something was serious, but I didn’t quite understand the scope of it. All I knew was that my billing took a hit, for
a while. Thankfully, I worked at a classic rock powerhouse, and I had enough bars and nightclubs on my list to get me through. (We like to drink when things go south).
It was the worst I’d ever seen.

September 11, 2001. 9/11. I was the Director of Sales for an Internet development company. We were in our weekly production meeting when our lead developer’s wife called three times to tell him a plane had crashed into the tower. We went on with our meeting. We spent the rest of the day in the big conference room watching the news, in silence. I remember looking into the skies for days, at nothing. No planes. No white streaks. I think our spirits were more hurt than our business. It was a game-changer.
It was the worst I’d ever seen.

September 29, 2008. The Great Recession. On September 29, 2008, the stock market collapsed when the U.S. House of Representatives rejected a bailout bill. I was traveling the country as a sales and advertising consultant (as I still do). I had been feeling the effects of the failing economy all year. Throughout the course of 2008, I met ag-related businesses in the Midwest who were nervous about prices. I met car dealers all over the country who were watching inventory, I met furniture store owners, bankers, home builders, and people in every other category imaginable who were beyond nervous. By October 2008, every business I met with was in panic mode. So were the managers and account executives at the media outlets I teamed with.
It was the worst I’d ever seen.

And so, I spent the years of the Great Recession—starting really in 2007 all the way through to 2011 for many—meeting local advertisers across the United States. I travelled at least every other week, racking up frequent flier miles and visiting local businesses. I worked side by side with local media account executives and managers trying to save budgets, create ideas, stay positive, be realistic. But it was tough.

It’s tough when you say to a business owner, “Thanks for your time today. I’ll be back in three weeks and I’ll bring you some ideas.” And the business owner says, “Brother, I may not be in business in three weeks.” That happened to me more than once.

It’s tough when you hop into an account executive’s car for our first ride of the week together and I enthusiastically greet them with, “Hi! How’s it goin’?” And their response is, “Well, I’m gonna make twenty grand less this year. How do you think it’s goin’?” That happened to me more than once… a month.

The Great Recession. Nothing “Great” about it. It sucked. Businesses went under. Good people, good AE’s, good managers left our business. Unlike the single event of 9/11, it was a slow burn. If 9/11 was a Mike Tyson first-round knockout punch, the Great Recession was an Ali-Frazier 15-round slobberknocker. You just didn’t know when it was going to end!
Did I mention it was the worst I’d ever seen?
Until now.

March 11, 2020. The Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic. On March 11, 2020, a player on the Utah Jazz preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. It triggered a league-wide suspension of play. Things just got real. Sure, we had all been aware of this virus for months. In January of 2020, Jim Doyle &Associates hosted 150 high-performing managers at our Boot Camp. My kickoff introduction on Sunday morning, January 26th, was basically a 15-minute monologue of jokes. I had rehearsed the day before with my wife. “Welcome to the Suncoast of Florida! Home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. I hope you have a chance to visit them while you’re here. But be careful, there have been reports of Coronavirus on Siesta Key Beach. Yeah. You get on the beach, see someone open a Corona, and you immediately want one!”
Thankfully, my wife nixed that joke.

For me, the NBA season suspension was the moment the game changed. It was here, it was real. And it started the dominoes tumbling. Events cancelled. Leagues suspended play. My schedule fell apart. Jackson, MS on March 19th, postponed. Amarillo on the 26th, cancelled. Miami on March 31st, don’t even think about it.

By Monday, March 16th, our team huddled on our regular Monday morning Zoom meeting and began strategizing. By Thursday the 19th, we were hosting a webinar for all of our media partners titled, “Dealing with Disruption.” Attendance exceeded our 500-registrant capacity. We gave tips on how to Work from Home Effectively and Tips for Video Conferencing. By Tuesday, March 24th, I was a guest on the Kentucky State Broadcasters roundtable call-in with Governor Andy Beshear and former US Senator and President of the NAB, Gordon Smith. By Friday, March 27th, I was hosting a Special Edition of our MONEY CALL, sharing an hour of ideas to take to advertisers to address COVID-19.

By the hour, we were learning of advertiser cancellations—massive and immediate cancellations—for our partners in markets big and small, all over the country. We were told not to show up at the office. On Tuesday, March 31st, I spent a half hour on Facebook Live, reading children’s stories as a way to give our “work from home/teach from home/try to keep it together from home” parents a break. I ended my Facebook Live session by playing Bob Marley on my ukulele. “Don’t worry, about a thing. Every little thing is gonna be all right.”
This is the worst I’ve ever seen.

I’m not a “futurist.” I don’t like to predict things. I’m much more of a “presentist” (I think I made that word up). I like to address what’s happening today. So, I’ll leave the prognostication to those much smarter than I, except to say, it’s bad and it’s going to be bad.

Today, while I was meeting with five different account executives, I thought, “What can I tell these wonderful AE’s about selling through adversity?” I said, “Stay active. Action promotes activity.” And “don’t lose alone. Keep your managers in the loop on everything.” That was a mantra at the radio station where I worked during the 80’s. I wrote an article about it during the Recession. I said, “Avoid the naysayers. Focus on ROI. Reduce risk…” I wrote articles about all of this during the Recession.

I’ve written a lot for our various Jim Doyle & Associates newsletters, publications, and training platforms. In fact, in 2008, I committed to writing at least one article a week for our previously published AE newsletter, The Achiever’s Circle. It was probably my most prolific period of regular writing. The content was driven by my every-other-week travels and the 25-plus meetings per week with local advertisers. Throughout 2008 and 2009, the conditions were the worst I’d ever seen, for advertisers and account executives.

This book is a collection of those articles. It’s all the lessons I learned during my time on the streets leading up to, and in the midst of, the darkest days of the Great Recession and the recovery period thereafter. The articles are a collection of thoughts on sales, advertising, and inspiration/motivation. I’ll share the articles as they were originally written, and I’ll add some updated commentary. The lessons we learned from the last “worst I’ve ever seen,” can help us navigate the dark waters ahead.

Chapters

Pages

About the author.

Tom Ray is Executive Vice President of JDA.media, the nation’s premier media sales and marketing consultancy.  Recognized as a Certified Speaking Professional by the National Speakers Association, Tom regularly travels the country addressing local advertisers and their media partners.

Tom is author of the Amazon best-seller, Branding is OUT, Results are IN!  Lessons for the LOCAL Advertiser.

I’ve spend a nice, quiet afternoon reading your new book. Tom, I have to say this is one of the best, most comprehensive sales reads I’ve had in a long time. Not only do you jolt my memory on practices I’ve heard for years from JDA, you also tie-in and tweak these principles to the conditions we all face today.

Mike – VP/GM

I started reading your e-book last night and know that things have dramatically changed in your world too. Thanks for the positive messages.

John – LSM

My proposal had been written for days and was ready to go. Not only did I go back in and change my title, but after reading the first 50 pages, I went back in and added the Proceed page. When I got to that page in my proposal, I asked them the question and shut up. The owner said, “well, I definitely don’t want to stop the process." They said yes to a campaign.

Brett – AE

Thanks for the gentle reminders that during these times, we need to get back to basics. I had gotten away from some of those basics recently.

Sue – AE

Also By Tom Ray

Brittany Tomjanovich is the Director of Operations at JDA.media.

Brittany has a passion for data and details. That passion, coupled with her healthy respect for broadcast and digital’s powerful marketing platforms, has led to a fun and growing career in media.

In January 2011, Brittany joined Madison’s ABC affiliate, WKOW, as a sales assistant.  Immersing herself quickly into the sales process and organizational flow, she thrived and by the time she moved into a corporate role, she had supported local sales, national sales, and the programming department reporting directly to the station’s General Manager.

As the Broadcast Group Sales Coordinator at Quincy Media Inc., her role consisted of training and supporting the sales support staff in Quincy’s 16 markets.  She also handled communication and reports for the company’s VP of Sales.

Brittany is a quirky, creative, introverted-extrovert, focused on solving problems and dedicated to producing high-quality results.

Brittany is a graduate of The University of Wisconsin – Madison (On Wisconsin!), and currently lives in Blue Mounds, WI with her husband, Tyler, and two children, Hailey and Mason.

When she’s not behind her computer, you can find her spending time outdoors with her family.  She enjoys camping, kayaking, fishing, crafting and growing food in their backyard garden.

 

 

 

Since Leslie’s first post college role, she has been enthusiastically involved with helping clients get results!  Her media career started in local production at KCCI, the CBS affiliate in Des Moines, where she honed her creative chops and found her marketing passion.

It was a natural progression to move to an Agency, and then a Marketing firm next.  Working in a "think tank" environment, coming up with campaign ideas for clients and writing scripts capitalized on Leslie’s strengths.  During that time, she was part of a team that brought a national Grand Prix race to the streets of Des Moines, and executed several other high-profile festivals and events with thousands of attendees.

Embracing her entrepreneurial spirit and enjoyment of working with local businesses, Leslie made the leap into sales in 1992.  She cut her teeth at the local daily paper focusing 100% on the automotive space.  Working with tough, smart, risk-taking, and big thinking dealers, she learned much including grit and accountability.

Recruited to the cable side of media marketing, she spent the next 23 years as a Senior sales professional (9 yrs) and Sales Manager (15 yrs) at OnMedia.  As a seller she was the first million-dollar biller in the company, only to outdo herself the next year with the company’s first million-dollar contract.  Leslie received OnMedia’s Shining Star Award numerous times and has many ardent fans still in the ranks of the company.

At JDA.media we know that the best predictor of success is past success, and Leslie has it in spades.

Leslie loves collaborating with local businesses and clients - bringing unique, creative ideas and recommendations that make a lasting impact.  She prides herself on her ability to form relationships quickly and being a results-oriented thinker.

When Leslie isn't being a marketing professional, she spends time with her best friend and husband if 31 years.  They enjoy international travel, scuba diving, golfing, exercising, gardening, cheering for the Iowa State Cyclones and they most recently purchased a RV to spend their first winter in Florida.  Their dog Margarita (Rita) loves to take long walks with them on the beach at the end of the day to watch the sunset.

Leslie is also an active volunteer.  For six years she was board President for Komen of Iowa; helped run the central Iowa chapter of Shoes that Fit for 15 years; served 3 years on the Urbandale Chamber board of directors; spent 5 years as head of the marketing committee for Altoona Christian Church; two years as an advisor to her alma madder, Grand View University, on the Alumni Relations Committee; and is a founding member of the Des Moines Westside Chamber.

 

 

 

 

 

Nate Schwendeman has been in Marketing and Advertising since 2004.  He has helped thousands of local businesses grow and stand out from the competition by developing creative and customized ideas.

Nate worked his way up through multiple markets in the Midwest as an Account Executive, a Team Leader, and a Local Sales Manager by the age of 32.  As he wore those many hats, he won OnMedia’s Shining Star award for selling and leading, and multiple Addy’s for creative.

Nate has a proven track record of success.  As an Account Executive he broke company records for hitting budget consecutive months in a row.  And in his first year as a sales leader his team surpassed 3 million dollars in ad revenue, significantly over-achieving budget and stretch goals.  But his successes in helping local business owners grow and achieve their dreams are the ones he’s most proud of and gladly shares.

Nate is an alumnus from the University of Northern Iowa.  In recent years he was honored to work with his alumni University and Wartburg College marketing departments, talking to students and professors about creative ideas and marketing principles for businesses of all sizes.  He also sat on the Board of Directors for the UNI Panther Scholarship club.

A long time JDA.media disciple, Nate prides himself in studying his customers’ industries, doing thoughtful preparation, asking the right questions of all parties involved, and bringing unique ideas.  His client’s commercials have been shared all over the United States as best practices on how to stand out and generate results.

One of Nate's funniest commercials was viewed by a Presidential Candidate in a small town in Iowa, prompting the candidate to come into the place of business and mention the ad.

When Nate isn’t helping his customers make money, he enjoys cooking on his Big Green Egg, reading, hunting, fishing, all sports, and spending time with his beautiful wife, three daughters and son.  The Schwendeman family also includes three cats and one giant Doberman puppy.

Nate wants to live in a world filled with innovative businesses, groundbreaking ideas and marketing books that come bundled with bourbon and bacon.

Nate used to train for combat sports and holds a 1-0 record in kickboxing. His debut fight was his retirement fight because his wife said so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Margie Chilson is a Senior Marketing Consultant for JDA.media.

Her vast experience includes nearly three decades in broadcast television and digital sales marketing, working in and with multiple markets and affiliations including Dallas-Fort Worth at WFAA, Denver at KUSA-KTVD, KMGH, KWGN, and as a team manager at Millennium Television Sales.

Margie’s years as a local seller were award-winning and inspiration for her jump to JDA.media. She exceeded new business and digital goals on a consistent basis at Belo Corp., Scripps, Tribune, and TEGNA Inc. stations. A true innovator, Margie pioneered job-sharing positions in Dallas and Denver, balancing hectic work schedules and family, paving the way for working parents with careers in media sales.

Margie is well known and respected for her diligence, drive, and new business results. Due to her years in the business as an account executive and sales leader, she knows the station environment well and can easily relate to local sellers as well as the most senior managers.

An alum of Oklahoma State University who graduated with Honors in Journalism Advertising, Margie boasts an outstanding track record of helping business owners strategically grow their revenue through broadcast, streaming and digital solutions.

Margie and her husband Tim have been married for 23 years. The couple and their two children live in Littleton, CO, a suburb of Denver. Their son, Ryan, attends the University of Colorado Boulder, and their daughter, Mary, is in high school.  In their spare time, the Chilsons enjoy travel, hiking in the picturesque Rocky Mountains, cooking, watching movies, and cheering on their kids in various sporting events.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim Stoos is SVP, Revenue Drives at JDA.media.

For over 20 years, Jim has crafted successful marketing programs for hundreds of local businesses.

His expansive media experience includes delivering significant advertising results utilizing broadcast, digital, cable, and radio.

His specialty is helping small-to-medium-sized businesses address sales and marketing challenges while developing game-changing strategies with real-world creative solutions.

Prior to joining JDA.media, Jim held strategic management positions as Regional Vice President, General Manager, and Local Sales Manager at television and cable companies in the Midwest.

His leadership roles gave him the opportunity to apply JDA.media principles to help Account Executives develop campaigns that combined television and digital solutions, which positively impacted business owners’ success. Jim’s extensive digital background includes the launch of digital tools for an entire sales division.

The media veteran’s skill set also includes web design, digital display and video, as well as mobile, AdWords, pre-roll advertising, and digital ad extension products.

He lives in Bettendorf, Iowa with his two sons and “one crazy cat.”

For years Jim has worked as a dedicated member of Iowa’s Big Brothers Big Sisters program. He enjoys playing as well as coaching football.

In his spare time, Jim enjoys working out with his boys (both are scholarship track athletes at St. Ambrose University in Davenport), as well as camping, and riding horses with his sweetheart Stacy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

holly allenHolly Allen is a JDA.media Senior Marketing Consultant.

With nearly 27-years in the industry, including over five years as President & General Manager of FOX23 and MY41 in Tulsa, OK, Holly has developed a deep expertise in many facets of media. However, her true passion is working directly with clients.

Her “no box” thinking and creative mind allow her to design effective marketing strategies that drive significant results for advertisers.

Holly believes the first step to helping a business grow is to “peel back the layers” to uncover their unique needs, goals, and opportunities.

Next, she formulates and executes a thorough, well-rounded marketing plan that exceeds their expectations.

She enjoys the brainstorming process and seeing clients get enthusiastic when her strategies bring their businesses to unprecedented levels of success.

Experts say the greatest predictor of success is past success, which rings especially true with Holly’s career. Starting as an effective ad agency rep, she quickly moved into broadcast sales and marketing.  Moving up through the sales ranks, Holly eventually became the President & General Manager of a pair of dominant broadcast television stations in Tulsa, OK.

Most recently she founded All-en Media, LLC, where she works with clients in various categories, including auto, banking, retail, and more.

A proud graduate of Oklahoma State University, she lives in Tulsa with her high school aged daughter Lila, while her son Henry attends the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Holly enjoys long walks outdoors, visiting with family and friends, and volunteering her time to local causes whenever possible.

 

Wendy Hosterman is a Senior Marketing Consultant for JDA.media.

Over the course of Wendy’s nearly 25-years in media, she’s worked successfully in multiple categories from automotive to retail to healthcare and more. She possesses a unique depth of knowledge as a seller, manager, and executive at privately-owned media companies as well as Fortune 500 firms.

“I have always been a top performer winning multiple President's Cups, Pinnacle Awards, and various client honors,” she says proudly.  But her real professional passion is connecting with local businesses to help them grow and cut through the clutter.

During her nearly 11-year tenure with Cox Media Group (CMG) in Tulsa, Wendy specialized in leveraging television, radio, and digital platforms for her clients. In her years with the company, she was recognized four consecutive years with the prestigious CMG President’s Circle Award, and Top Digital Performer (in Oklahoma) for five consecutive years.

Prior to working with Cox, Wendy led local initiatives at Newport Television in Tulsa and was a Local Sales Manager. She oversaw a team of six, achieved record revenue goals, launched and managed a successful lifestyle/sponsorship program that generated over $300,000 in its inaugural year.

“I've spent my career putting together the right solutions and the right messaging for customers. I am transparent, and pride myself on being a great listener,” she says.  “I can connect with local business owners because I've been working with them and creating solutions that grow their companies for nearly 25 years.” Her methodology includes maintaining constant contact with customers. “It’s critical, and part of our responsibility is to manage expectations and make changes when needed.”

Wendy is a passionate sports fan, a proud University of Kansas graduate who worked in the athletic department. Nowadays, her outside-of-work passion is centered on exercise, which includes running, barre, yoga, and spin.

She is the proud parent of two amazing sons, Noel and Shane, and a pair of rescue dogs.

 

 

 

 

perry kapiloffPerry Kapiloff is a JDA.media Senior Marketing Consultant.

With over two decades of experience in broadcast advertising sales and management, plus eleven years in ad agencies, he is a media veteran in every sense.

During his career, Perry has worked extensively with small, as well as medium-sized businesses, to develop results-oriented marketing strategies and advertising campaigns.

He began his radio career in Massachusetts where he met and worked with “The Guru of Ads,” the legendary innovator Don Fitzgibbons.

Perry remained in radio for a decade learning the importance of frequency and stand-out creative that gets results.

He held management positions with Clear Channel Communications and Citadel Broadcasting, and worked as a Senior Account Executive for a full-service New England agency managing advertising for a variety of businesses.

In 2006, Perry founded Kapiloff Marketing Group, specializing in broadcast media and advertising messages that get results.

Over the years his clients have included automobile, tractor, and motorcycle dealerships, a home improvement center, plus restaurants and real estate companies, as well as insurance agencies.

Perry is a graduate of Ohio University where he earned a degree in Broadcast Journalism. Today, he resides in West Boylston, Massachusetts with his wife and two children.

A huge sports fan, Perry and his family are proud members of the Red Sox Nation. He also enjoys the outdoors, as well as coaching baseball, and playing golf.

 

 

 

John Hillary is a JDA.media Senior Marketing Consultant.

Since 2006, he has worked directly with hundreds of small-to-medium-sized businesses, developing fully-integrated, results-driven media marketing strategies that have consistently helped meet and exceed goals.

John began his career with NRS Media in Atlanta, working as a Project Manager, closely analyzing market trends and sales data for the company’s multi-phase programs.

He was soon promoted to one of NRS Media’s lead consultants, working as an Account Director. In his role, John helped hundreds of local businesses grow through innovative and creative advertising campaigns.

During his tenure with NRS, John consulted for 25 different media outlets in television, digital, radio, cable, and print, in over 20 markets throughout the U.S.

Due to his success at helping businesses and stations drive revenue, he was recruited to join WCIU-TV, the CW affiliate in Chicago, as an Account Executive.

There, he worked with local companies and national chains, collaborating on innovative ways to make messages resonate with customers in a large, competitive marketplace.

John’s energy, passion, creativity, and understanding of results-oriented marketing strategies have consistently made him a vital asset to clients and company colleagues in every phase of his career.

A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, John graduated from the University of Michigan and remains an avid Wolverine fan.

In his spare time, he enjoys running, golf, being with friends and family, and escaping to the water and beaches of Lake Michigan.

In late 2020, John and his wife Katie returned to Georgia to reside in Roswell, one of Atlanta sprawling suburbs.  And in early 2021 John and Katie welcomed a daughter.

 

 

Billie Adkins is a Senior Marketing Consultant for JDA.media.

She is an expert at crafting innovative, creative strategies that get dramatic results for advertisers.

Decision-makers appreciate Billie’s unique ability to ask the kind of provocative questions that lead to the development of distinct and effective TV and/or digital creative that gets viewers’ attention and drives consumer action.

Through her 25-plus years in media, Billie has developed an extensive professional portfolio with a depth of experience that includes a variety of management positions in sales, and important posts in news, production, station promotion, and market research.

As a General Sales Manager at WDTN, the NBC affiliate in Dayton, Ohio, she led a multimedia marketing team that specialized in achieving clients’ marketing and operational goals with a client-centric approach.

She embodies all aspects of the JDA.media philosophy recognizing that each business is unique, with its own challenges and opportunities. In order to build a results-driven advertising plan for clients, you must first understand the business and then formulate a strategy to make the company stand out from competitors.

Billie resides in Carlisle, Ohio with her husband and two children. When not traveling the country for JDA.media, helping business owners increase their sales, she enjoys family time, reading, and coaching soccer, often cheering for kids that need a special someone in the stands just for them.