CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE/ITV'S SALES SHORTFALL - ITV sales teams should go on the road to learn about customers

There has been a sea change in the wider marketing world that goes

strangely unrecognised at ITV. The demand from boardrooms for a measured

return from marketing budgets means ways of doing business must be

reinvented.



Yet ITV's sales operation is stuck in a time warp of ten years ago. The

problems have been amplified by economic conditions, but the fall in

revenue cannot be blamed solely on these. It has been exaggerated by a

failure to sell ITV as a compelling investment for advertisers over

other TV channels, media choices and other marketing options

altogether.



ITV's customers know that when a business has difficulties, you get out

there and sell - with an understanding of individual customers' needs,

with flexible propositions and with promotions that are sensitive to

their business reality.



Instead, ITV sales is stuck in the office, manipulating data, knocking

its customers with penalties and payment in advance demands.



The responses from Carlton - denying complacency in the sales force -

and Granada - not understanding the criticisms levelled at ITV's sales

operations - illustrate the malaise in ITV.



The solution is in ITV's hands. Get out there and sell. To help, here's

a tangible 20-point action plan to increase income and improve

advertiser value.



BILLETT'S 20 STEPS TO IMPROVING ITV'S AD REVENUES



1. Re-emphasise off-invoice volume discounts for committed big-spending

customers.



2. Market introductory discounts for new or returning customers.



3. Reward current customers with incentives for increasing spend.



4. If these cause an imbalance in your trading books, get ready to write

some cheques now, rather than lose customers forever.



5. Force a reappraisal of TV from advertisers using other media. "Are

you getting a year-on-year decrease in press costs?" is the first

question a TV salesman should be asking. The response, in most cases, is

"no".



6. Drop the advance booking discount deadline to four weeks.



7. Repackage daytime as a powerful medium for the smaller housewife-

targeted and direct response brands.



8. Share some of the risk with these advertisers on a joint profit/loss

basis.



9. Free use of ITV off-screen interactive resources for forward-looking

advertisers to accelerate learning.



10. Make use of tvSpan. No-one hears of it. Is it proving the worth of

an ITV investment? Begin to market the wealth of case histories.



11. Market the evidence of successful ITV for financial, retail,

automotive and other smaller advertisers.



12. Sell on volume and stop selling share of ITV as a metric.



13. Publish channel revenue on a quarterly basis to improve campaign

delivery predictions.



14. Slim down the agency sales staff or get them on the road meeting

advertisers.



15. Prove you are investing in programmes. Create and sell a better

advertising environment - programme packages not just audiences.



16. Sell TV's role as a key ingredient in mixed-media

communications.



17. Conduct research to show ITV's contribution to mixed-media

scheduling.



18. Slim down the clutter and deliver tracking research for all

marketers to prove ITV advertising messages work more effectively.



19. Market the big spread in prices now available to TV advertisers;

contrast TV's improved value in 2001 with other media and tackle the

belief that TV is expensive.



20. Join alternative media owners to develop new advertiser

propositions. Don't just criticise them.



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