The advertising community has lost a legend. And, I've lost a dear friend. Over the past year or two in this newsletter, I've quoted writings and memos from Les Boyle, ROI Media in Tulsa. His was a buying service that struck fear into the hearts of radio and TV reps everywhere. He could be intimidating. From your first visit with him, he put the fear of Les in you. He recognized that negotiation is a game, and he played it superbly. We argued, bargained, and then shook hands, had a drink and dinner. He and his wife were great friends of mine and my husband's. PF Chang's was our favorite restaurant and despite my travel schedule, we managed to have dinner together every two or three months. Our last one was December 28. We shall remember it fondly.
Les passed from this life to the next March 10. Despite his numerous health problems, it was a car accident that finally ended his life. A careless driver rear ended him and his wife. She was unhurt: his back was broken in two places.
He's the subject of this newsletter for several reasons. First, he did much to promote radio and TV as mediums that WORK for clients. He wanted a good deal, but he bought it right. He knew how to buy schedules that would produce results.
Secondly, I considered him a teacher and mentor. Much of what I know about negotiation I learned from him. In fact, he was so good that I asked him to come and speak to my sales staff, to give them a few pointers. He refused. Why?
"A tactic recognized is no longer a tactic." He didn't want to give away his secrets and techniques that gave him the edge in working good deals for his clients! I don't believe he'd object now to my passing along to you some of his best. Once you recognize these tactics, you can be prepared to accomplish a Win-Win scenario.
1. Begin any meeting (read:negotiation) by getting your bluff in on the other person. "Your station (s) have * ** ratings, your announcers are ***, your rates are way too high." When you recognize this as a tactic designed to put you at the immediate disadvantage, you can deal with it.
2. The Flinch: "You are charging HOW MUCH?" You could have quoted 50 cents: it would still be too high!
3. Always take the maximum plausible position.
(In Les' case, many times they were NOT plausible)
"I want narrowed day parts, X number of bonus spots, free remotes, announcer endorsements at this rate." (That rate was NEVER on our rate card! He knew that by asking for the moon he might end up with a few stars.)
4. Demand great service. All reps that called on Les were required to give him their personal phone numbers. If he needed them over the weekend, he called. Actually, this type of access to the reps makes sense. I never minded his calls because they usually included a buy. He wanted to be able to take care of HIS clients whenever they needed him.
5. Answer your phone! One of his pet peeves was automated receptionists. He wanted to talk to a real, live person.
6. The Nibble. Les always closed the negotiation by asking for a bit more. His clients benefited if the rep were not strong enough to say, "No".
7.Use rating numbers to your advantage. He would place buys using Nielsen ratings. These usually had my stations' rates a some ridiculous number. I would use Tapscan to redo the buy, keeping his rating points and CPP but getting my rates back to an acceptable level. He would grumble: I would remind him that if HE could use numbers, I could use numbers.
8. Knowledge is power. Les was my "go-to" guy. Anything I wanted to know about the media I had but to ask. The more he knew, the better he could negotiate.
9. Entertain lavishly. His St. Patty's day parties were legendary. Les had more than "A bit of the Irish" in him.
10. Remain loyal to your friends. And he did. He was always willing to provide a reference, information, referral. In fact, he referred me to my last day job. When I opened BBI, he was one of my staunchest supporters.
Now that you know how Les used negotiation techniques to benefit his clients, you will recognize these tactics in other "media negotiators". "A tactic recognized is no longer a tactic."
Next newsletter will feature the last memo I received from Les. I regret that his wisdom has now passed from this world. He was one of the original "Mad Men" with whiskey in one hand and a cigar in the other. No more wonderful stories about his time as marketing manager for Getty Oil.Too bad he didn't write these down. They would have made a great movie.
I'm thankful for the years I knew Les. I'm thankful for all I learned from him. I'm thankful that he allowed me to get to know his wonderful wife of 62 years. And, I'll be happy to pass on his secrets for great negotiation to a new generation of sellers. He's probably standing at the Pearly Gates negotiating with St Peter as we speak and finding out if the Heavenly Hosts need someone to handle their marketing for them.
Les, in the words of a famous Irish blessing:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.