What's For Sale?

Last week's Drift apparently struck a nerve with many of our readers. Our first annual "Do Not Say" list offered up several terms - transparency, optimization, partner -- that have been so overused that they've become hollow, meaningless and ultimately self-destructive for the seller. The comments included other suggested terms (technology stack, robust, best-of-breed), some argument that the sellers were the problem and not the terms, and at least one piece of hate mail about the entire concept. But one common question I've heard a dozen times this week is, "So now that you've eliminated 90% of the key words we use in our presentations, what are we supposed to sell?"

Simply put, start selling the Three Cs: Clarity, Certainty and Control.

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Clarity: While Transparency has come to represent the narrow themes of open reporting and site lists, Clarity is about how you the media seller are going to help the buyer see the whole picture, understand the landscape, find meaning through their relationship with you. With every customer, in every exchange: simplify, synthesize, explain, make sense of the world for your client. Hold this up as your standard, and you'll quickly stop bludgeoning them with three letter acronyms. Bringing excessive detail and technical complexity to today's marketer is like tossing an anchor to a drowning man.

Certainty: Certainty is a concept that can envelop not only the technical expertise and data quality of your offering, but also your organization's commitment to extraordinary service. In a world dominated by unpredictability, unintended consequences, missed deadlines, broken code and unfulfilled campaigns, Certainty is a transformational concept. If you do business with us, you can count on us delivering and knowing what's happening every step of the way. Here's why...

Control: What do the entry level media planner, the agency account director on a major brand, the CEO of the agency and the brand manager and CMO at the client all have in common? They all fear losing control of their own destinies during these asymmetrical, confusing and often contradictory times. Focus on how your products, audiences, services and capabilities can help the customer reassert control over her environment. The planning team fears losing influence and control to the trading desks; the trading desk people fear losing control because of gaps in their technical bench strength; the brand fears losing control of its relationship with the consumer; and so it goes. Control is central, primal, urgent. How many of your current agenda items can you say that about?

Surely there's an aspirational quality to these ideas: they challenge the ambition and commitment of the sales organization. But if you're a seller in the field, my advice to you is immediate and actionable. Start building your sales strategy and your conversations around the Three Cs today. Every day you wait is another day you dwell in the land of comfortable irrelevance.