Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

DFW Go Local: Nick Nemeth Best Attorney for Solving IRS Problems

(DALLAS-FT. WORTH, TX – Consumer Team News)   The Consumer Team’s DFW Go Local campaign will officially kick-off in January 2017, but host Pete Thomson has started outlining how the initiative will work.   He said, “Our goal with Go Local DFW! is to promote the best-of-the-best local businesses in Dallas and Ft. Worth.   Good things happen when consumers spend them money in their hometown.”

Nick Nemeth - DFW Tax Attorney

Nick Nemeth – DFW Tax Attorney

This Saturday (9-17-16) Thomson will interview DFW attorney Nick Nemeth on The Consumer Team. Nemeth helps consumers who have issues with the IRS.   Thomson says Nemeth exemplifies his vision for Go Local DFW.  He said, “Nick Nemeth is a great example of why we need to make the choice to support local DFW business owners.   When it comes to dealing with the IRS, Nick can do so much more than an out-of-town law firm.  First, his office is within walking distance from the IRS and he’s right here in DFW where his clients can meet him face-to-face.”

Nick Nemeth offers a complimentary initial consultation which is an outstanding value for consumers. Thomson added, “The fact that Nick Nemeth offers a free initial consultation is indicative of a man who really wants to help the consumer.   Without spending a dime, you can truly find out what your options are for getting a resolution of your IRS tax issue.”

The Consumer Team with Pete Thomson is broadcast Saturdays from 6-8 PM on CBS Radio’s 1080 KRLD in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas.   The Consumer Team is produced by McQ Media Inc, Dallas.



Consumer Team Launches “Go Local” Campaign in DFW

(Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas – Consumer Team News)   Consumer advocate and radio host Pete Thomson today announced a new initiative to promote local business in Dallas-Ft. Worth.    The Consumer Team’s “Go Local” Campaign will encourage consumers to do business with locally owned and operated businesses.

Thomson, who hosts The Consumer Team radio program on 1080 KRLD, says that Go Local will be a year long campaign and will include promotion on radio, television and the web.   He added, “Go Local is really the heart of The Consumer Team.   We believe one of the tenets of consumer success is supporting hometown business.  Doing this not only supports your community directly, but it also gives the consumer a much higher level of customer service.  Local business owners simply have an accountability to their hometown that out-of-town businesses don’t have.”

Pete Thomson - The Consumer Team

Pete Thomson – The Consumer Team

Thomson says that using local businesses is especially critical in the home repair and remodeling categories.  He added, “Because of the higher price tag involved, the home repair and remodeling categories can be very challenging for consumers.   Using an out of town company can often end with disastrous results.  In the roofing industry we call them storm chasers but the problem exists in all categories.  When you hire a local contractor that has been properly vetted, you’re much more likely to have a successful consumer experience.”

Consumer Team sponsors from DFW will be featured during the Go Local initiative.   “Our sponsors are excited that we’re creating a platform to promote support of local business.   The current environment is challenging for small business.   From regulation to big-box competition, they face significant challenges every day.”

Thomson comes from a small business family.   Both of his parents were retailers in his hometown of Charles City, Iowa.   At the age of 90, his father has recently launched a new restaurant business in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.   Thomson said, “I learned about the importance of small business at a young age when I worked at my dad’s Ben Franklin Store.   I saw a direct correlation between the level of support we received from our community and the quality of life that my family experienced.  You learn to appreciate the people who support you.”

The Consumer Team Go Local campaign will be anchored on CBS Radio’s 1080 KRLD and on social media.   Thomson said a new Consumer Team video platform will be launched for the campaign.

The Consumer Team with Pete Thomson is broadcast Saturdays from 6-8 PM Central on KRLD in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas.   The Consumer Team is produced by McQ Media Inc.



LifeLock In Trouble…..Again!

(Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX)    LifeLock is back in the news, this time as a result of the Federal Trade Commission’s claim that the company is continuing to make false claims in their advertising.    Problems with advertising claims are not new for LifeLock, who paid $12 million in fines in 2012 to settle charges that it made deceptive and false ad claims.  The most recent FTC charges claim that LifeLock falsely advertised the ability to secure its subscribers data with the same technical sophistication as major financial institutions.   The FTC charges also claim that LifeLock failed to create and maintain a comprehensive security program to protect users’ credit card, social security, and bank account data.A Virtual Reality Display Confirming Identity Theft

Pete Thomson, founder of The Consumer Team, commented on the latest charges against LifeLock.  “We’ve been concerned about the advertising claims of LifeLock for some time.   Their commercials make promises that aren’t in line with the actual product they deliver.  Very troubling, also, are the charges regarding LifeLock’s own internal systems for protecting customer data.   If anyone should have bullet-proof internal systems for protecting customer data, it should be the company selling ID theft protection.”

Thomson said that The Consumer Team will be airing a series of programs regarding identity theft.   Thomson said, “There are a number of competing messages in the marketplace regarding identity theft and much of the information is either exaggerated or just plain wrong.    We’re in the process of vetting several sources to be experts on The Consumer Team.”

Thomson says he wants to clarify several aspects of identity protection on The Consumer Team.   He added, “First, we believe that consumers must take a proactive role in the process of protecting their critical personal information.   Beyond that I want us to help consumers understand how to respond after their identity has been breached.    In the area of identity restoration, consumers need to understand the process and what assistance they will receive as part of an ID theft protection package.”

The Consumer Team is broadcast Saturdays from 5-7 PM (Central) on CBS Radio’s 1080 KRLD in Dallas, TX.   The Consumer Team is produced by McQ Media, Dallas, TX.


For Profit Colleges: Big Promises, Huge Debt, Shattered Dreams

I’m not a proponent of lots of government regulation.  In fact, whenever I hear the words “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”,  I immediately run.  However, after researching some of the malarkey going on in the “For Profit” college category, I’m beginning to think that a good, government sponsored, butt kicking might be in order.

For Profit Colleges:  Leaving Students Jobless and In Debt

For Profit Colleges: Leaving Students Jobless and In Debt

What is a For Profit College?    You probably know them well, but by their heavily marketed names such as University of Phoenix, DeVry University or ITT Technical.   These schools bombard the television airwaves with spots touting that you can find a job, a career and a great life by getting one of their degrees.   Dig a little deeper and you find the problems.   For profit colleges are very expensive, especially when compared to a local, non-profit community college.   And, as many a for profit grad have discovered, a for profit degree often leaves a person in huge debt with no job prospects.   Even more troubling is the for profit college mega-aggressive marketing strategy that targets low-income and veteran consumers.   And similar to the payday loan industry that I’ve written about previously, for profit colleges also appear to be harvesting huge gains at the expense of people who are already experiencing great pain and challenge in their lives.   This last fact is what makes my blood boil.

Consumer Team Investigates For Profit Colleges:   I interviewed Consumer’s Union attorney Suzanne Martindale for my consumer advocacy radio program The Consumer Team.   The interview will be broadcast on Saturday, August 30, 2014.   Martindale, who is on the front lines of fighting for increased scrutiny of for profit colleges, voiced concern about Wall Street’s involvement in the for profit college industry.    That’s right, a number of these colleges are public companies.   As Martindale shared in our interview, the for profit college industry is currently under fire from a number of angles.   The Securities and Exchange Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are both investigating the category, as are the attorneys general from 30 different states.

Buyer Beware:   In spite of my comments above regarding government regulation of this business category, I believe that the marketplace is generally better served by an informed consumer who votes with their feet.   Anyone considering attending a for profit college needs to do additional research.   Indeed, one doesn’t have to do much digging to find serious dirt.     And, compliments of Ms. Martindale, the links below provide some valuable facts.


Pete Thomson

CEO – The Consumer Team

Editor’s Note:  The Consumer Team talk radio program is broadcast Saturdays from 5-7PM on CBS Radio’s 1080 KRLD in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas.  Pete Thomson has been working in consumer advocacy and investigative journalism for over 10 years.   Thomson is President/CEO of McQ Media, a Dallas-based advertising and marketing firm that promotes consumer and business advocacy.


Consumer Team: Banks Pitching Bad Deal to Students

(DALLAS-FT. WORTH, TEXAS)   Since the financial collapse of 2008, more consumers are aware of the nefarious activities of big banks.   On Saturday, August 16, 2014, The Consumer Team will explore a new area of bad banking behavior:  high-fee debit cards being targeted to college students.   Suzanne Martindale, a staff attorney from Consumers Union, will join Consumer Team host Pete Thomson for the first of several broadcasts that will be devoted to questionable banking practices.   The Consumer Team is broadcast Saturdays from 5-7PM (Central) on 1080 KRLD Radio, Dallas, Texas.

The Consumer Team - Banks Behaving Badly

The Consumer Team – Banks Behaving Badly

Consumer Team host Pete Thomson, commented about the banking segment.  He said, “This is the latest chapter of big banks taking advantage of consumers.   They’re using aggressive marketing tactics to pitch a bad deal to college students.  In addition, in many cases colleges are participating in the promotion with the banks and sometimes actually share in the revenue made at the expense of the student.”

The Consumer Team segment will focus on the marketing programs being used and the fee structure of debit cards.   Thomson added, “These deals are very insidious.  The marketing programs make it appear that the bank and the college are working together to bring a valuable service to the students.   In reality, the terms and conditions are often so bad that they become an unnecessary drain on a student’s financial aid.”

In addition to identifying the problem, Thomson promises that listeners will learn about alternatives to big banks.   Thomson added, “The good news is that informed consumers don’t need to become a victim to these bad deals.  We’ll talk about effective, low-cost alternatives including credit unions, which we feel are a real friend to the consumer.”

Thomson applauded Consumers Union for their work in exposing the issue with student debit cards.   He said, “We believe that Consumers Union’s work in consumer policy and action is invaluable to all Americans.  Without their vigilance, the consumer marketplace would be very different.    Relative to the powerful big banks, that are ‘too big to fail’ and ‘too big to jail’,  Consumers Union’s courageous research is essential to keeping these people accountable.”

For more information on The Consumer Team, click here.   To listen live, Saturday from 5-7PM Central, click here.   The Consumer Team is produced by McQ Media, Dallas, Texas.


Consumer Team Alert: Older Consumers Targeted by Scam Advertisers

I’m not against making a profit.  Not at all.   Commerce and profit have been woven into my life since I was a checker at my father’s Ben Franklin five-and-dime on Main Street in Charles City, Iowa.  The profit I’m concerned about is what an increasing number of companies are making from older consumers.  Super high margins are being made on products of questionable value.   On the surface, the commercials for gold, speed-up-your-PC software, supplements and other products look very legitimate.  And the creative is often speaking directly to the deepest emotional concerns of older consumers.   The problem with many of these products is threefold:  exorbitant profits, a business model that is not transparent and questionable product quality.   Here’s my current ‘hit list’ of questionable products and services that are targeting older consumers.

Scam Marketers Are Targeting Senior Consumers

Scam Marketers Are Targeting Senior Consumers

The Speed-Up-My-PC Scam:   This category is low-hanging fruit for the senior profiteers.   Older consumers are generally not comfortable with computer maintenance.  And several companies have taken advantage of the issue with highly questionable products.   According to ARS Technica, a leading technology website, a significant number of these products are ineffective and, in some cases, harmful to user’s computers.   From fixing ‘fake problems’ to even loading malware on user machines, the products are bad news.    According to ARS Technica, consumers of all ages are better served by free software available from Microsoft and other reputable sources.

The Senior Gold Rush:    Older consumers, largely because they’re watching political events in our country with horror, are great targets for the doom-and-gloom pitch of precious metal hustlers.  And while some of the companies do offer competitive pricing on gold and silver coins (the bait), high mark-ups on other products such as numismatic coins can hammer the consumer.   A better alternative is a precious metals ETF or a session with a retirement planner with a fiduciary interest in the client.

“Free Products” With Hidden Handling Charges:   Several years ago some direct marketer discovered that they could unload more of their cheap crap if they gave it away and then charged the consumer a ‘hidden’ handling fee.   You’ve heard the pitch, “Call now and get our product for free.  You just pay shipping and handling.”   As a result, there are currently a ton of “free” products—everything from DVDs for dealing with difficult kids to “secrets” of getting more from social security that a consumer can get for no charge, other than the handling charge that is ten times what postage would normally be for shipping the product.   The hard-core direct marketers even put a digital counter on the screen that indicates how many free widgets are still available for that day, which is amazing because the commercials are all prerecorded.

Social Security Scams:   There are, indeed, social security claiming strategies that are legitimate which will help consumers get more from Social Security benefits.   They’re free and available at a number of legitimate websites and financial planners.   Leave it to the scammers to find creative ways to charge people for free information.   One of the schemes is being run by a national magazine through a radio ad that promises to help consumers unlock hidden Social Security benefits.   In order to get the information, the consumer agrees to a trial newsletter subscription that, unless cancelled in a specific time period, becomes an annual paid subscription to several newsletters.   After this scheme gets past 30 days and the consumer is billed for the subscription, it is very difficult to cancel the subscription.   By the way, direct marketers have a name for this type of scheme.  It’s called a ‘Continuity Plan’ because it results in monthly revenue from the consumer for a product, service or subscription.

Reverse Mortgages:   The television ads tout the good life that one gets when they finally get the cash from tapping into their home equity.   Celebrity endorsers make the process look so easy and quick.  What goes unmentioned are the fees and other costs associated with a product that can leave seniors in serious financial trouble.     While the reverse mortgage product is not necessarily a scam, the marketing tactics being used to promote them are very questionable.

Final Payments Insurance:   Here’s a lovely group of scallywags who target older consumers with low incomes.   Yes, that’s right.  It’s not good enough to just screw-over seniors, they nail the ones who don’t have much to begin with.   The pitch:  Buy this insurance so when you die your funeral arrangements are covered.    The scam:  The companies don’t disclose that they’re selling insurance.   The insurance is not low cost, as advertised.  And, many consumers already have coverage in their existing insurance coverage.

Tax Debt Resolution:  Clever marketers have discovered that if they describe the IRS tax resolution process as complicated and mean enough that they can over-charge consumers who owe back taxes.   They pitch ‘secret’ government programs like some kind hidden treasure that only they can unlock.   After their marketing makes them sound like Indiana Jones taking on the IRS, these firms charge large ($10,000 and more) retainers up front to accomplish a the same job that can be done by a patient CPA for much less.

Charities:   Older consumers have hearts…big hearts.   And the non-profits know it all too well.   For every reputable charity advertising on television and radio, there’s probably 10 bad ones.   They’re bad because they handle the money you give them poorly.   Oftentimes a low percentage of gifts will reach the actual people in need, going instead to charity overhead.   Charity Navigators, a non-profit Charity watch dog group, does an outstanding job of policing the non-profit sector.   Sadly, some of the most commercially active non-profits are among the worst rated charities in the Charity Navigator ratings.   The relative high cost of advertising campaigns often result in a high cost of donor acquisition.   Put another way, when you give to a charity that is advertising on radio or television, your gift often goes to pay for the commercial that motivated you to give.

As I’ve written previously, I’d love to see broadcasters take a more aggressive role in cleansing the airwaves of scammers, especially the ones that target older consumers.  However, the current debt service of broadcast companies won’t support this kind of honesty.   And although the government would love to get move involved in the process of protecting us (EG: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau), I believe it is the consumer’s responsibility, including senior consumers, to be even more vigilant in our consumer lives.   With the freedom of American commerce comes a responsibility for the consumer to be informed.   On my consumer advocacy program, The Consumer Team, we regularly talk about strategies that consumers of all ages can use to avoid being ripped off.   In my next blog, I’ll take you through the strategies.   And, best of all, there is no charge…..not even shipping and handling.

Pete Thomson


The Consumer Team

(Editor’s Note:   Pete Thomson is a 30 year veteran of broadcast media and marketing.   As a television and radio broadcaster, he worked in programming, sales, sales management and general management.    In 2011, Thomson opened McQ Media, a full service marketing and advertising firm located in Dallas, Texas.   Also in 2011, Thomson founded The Consumer Team, a consumer advocacy radio program heard weekly on CBS Radio’s KRLD in Dallas.)


Scam Advertisers: Are Broadcasters Responsible?

(DALLAS-FT. WORTH, TX)   Consumer Team host Pete Thomson recently wrote a blog challenging broadcasters to be more aggressive in screening advertisers for scam products and services.   Below is the body of Thomson’s blog post which appeared on

Recently in the Dallas-Ft. Worth market, a high profile heating and air conditioning company filed for bankruptcy.  In the wake of their financial collapse are several radio stations holding unpaid invoices and thousands of consumers left with worthless maintenance agreements.   What makes this situation even more interesting is the nature of the the defunct company’s advertising offer.   They were pitching a scam.  “Call me today and I’ll give you $6,000 off my cost on a new system,” the owner of the company would say in his radio spots.   When he was really feeling philanthropic, he would throw in his labor for free.  And, every one of the company’s spots ended with the tag, “Honesty above reproach.”    For illustrative purposes and for the rest of this article, I’ll refer to this company as ‘Scam Heating & Air’.

Scam Advertisers - Are Broadcasters Responsible?

Scam Advertisers – Are Broadcasters Responsible?

In talking to several HVAC firms in the Dallas-Ft. Worth market, I’ve learned that a number of company owners contacted local radio station management regarding the lack of veracity in Scam Air’s on-air offer.  As one company owner put it, “There’s no way any dealer can honestly discount an HVAC system by $6,000.”   So even though station leadership possibly knew that the offer was a scam or a bait-and-switch, broadcasters continued to take Scam Air’s money, year-after-year.   As long as the check was clearing, broadcasters turned a blind eye to the Scam Air’s incredulous on-air offer.   In the interest of full transparency, I need to disclose that, for a short period of time, I allowed Scam Air to advertise on a station I managed.

So now, as the dust settles on this Scam Air’s demise, I’m betting that local broadcast management is asking themselves some tough questions.   Was the revenue that broadcasters received worth the damage done to thousands of their listeners?  Why was a spot advertiser airing fraudulent creative allowed to advertise for an extended period?   What could be done differently to prevent this from happening again?

Since broadcasting ‘sold out’ to the highest bidder in the deregulation of 1996, pressures on the sales division have increased exponentially.  Sales managers have to meet their quarterly numbers or they’ll be gone.    I know.  I was part of this machine for years.   And unless someone’s blatantly breaking the law with their business or their creative, pretty much anything goes on air.   And Scam Air’s just one example.   Broadcasters everywhere run copy for magic male enhancement pills or rare coin offers that are total scams.

Another example of a scam-running-rampant on television are the ‘clean up and speed up your PC programs’.  They’re on older skewing networks targeting unsophisticated computer users with offers of a miracle clean up of their computers.  According to ARS Technica, a leading technology website, a majority of these programs are a scam.  They often make routine cookie and temporary internet files look like viruses.  In some cases, the clean up programs are malware themselves.   Meanwhile television networks take the scam commercials without batting an eye.

As a broadcaster and agency owner, I’m troubled by our lack of standards of a number of levels.  By turning a blind eye to bad deals for consumers, we’re ultimately undermining our listener’s trust in our stations.   Longer term, our lack of standards and practices could make it easier for government regulation to creep further into our lives.   A chilling example of this is occurring in the financial world as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a product of the Dodd-Frank Act, is threatening to regulate financial planners.   All it takes is a couple of well orchestrated class action suits aimed at advertisers or even broadcasters themselves to make us a target of increased regulation.

A much easier and more pleasant road for broadcasters and agencies to follow would be one of self-regulation.  As an industry we need to look deeper in the business models of our advertisers.   Instead of looking for clients with big budgets, we need to look for clients who have a great value proposition for our listeners.   When listeners win, we win.   By the way, ferreting out scams is not a difficult process in many cases.  In both of the case studies I’ve cited above, routine investigations would have exposed the advertiser scam.

If you’re a broadcast sales seller or a manager, let me encourage you to pick your prospects and target accounts with care.   Can we catch every bad apple from hitting our airwaves?   Probably not.  And, ultimately consumers do have a responsibility to assume the ‘buyer beware’ posture when responding to any advertisement.   Still, if we search appropriately, there is an abundance of companies who can truly offer an outstanding product or service of value to our listeners and viewers.   Dig deeper in your prospecting efforts.  The effort will be well worth it.

Pete Thomson

CEO – McQ Media

Dallas, Texas

Editor’s Note:  Pete Thomson is veteran of broadcasting and media management.  He is President/CEO of McQ Media,  a full-service advertising and marketing firm in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas.  Thomson describes McQ Media as a ’boutique’ firm, that only represents firms who are best-in-category.  McQ Media produces a consumer advocacy program called, The Consumer Team, which airs Saturdays 5-7PM on KRLD Radio.  Like McQ Media, The Consumer Team only features companies that are ‘best in category’ that also have a strong record of positive customer service.




Consumer Team: Small is the New Big

(DALLAS-FT. WORTH)    Consumer Team talk radio host Pete Thomson says his list of “certified” businesses will always be a small list.   For The Consumer Team, he says, “small is the new big.”   Thomson added, “For The Consumer Team to endorse a business, there has to be a deep relationship.   We must understand the business on a number of levels.  This process doesn’t lend it self to building a large list of sponsors.  It’s a small list but a very good list.”

The Consumer Team Seal of Approval

The Consumer Team Seal of Approval

Thomson says The Consumer Team’s small size means quality for his listeners on KRLD Radio, Dallas, TX.   He’s also critical of consumer sites such as Angie’s List and Yelp that feature thousands of recommended businesses.   Thomson added, “The idea for Yelp and Angie’s List is great.  However the execution is pretty bad.  These sites and all the user review sites can be gamed or manipulated by businesses who pay reviewers to post bogus reviews.  And Angie’s List, which gives ratings preference to businesses who advertise, is not a good resource for objective information in their current design.”

When Thomson looks at adding a new sponsor for The Consumer Team he considers several key questions.   He added, “First we look at the quality of the service or product provided.  Once that question is answered, we then look at how the business sets pricing.  In this area we look for fairness and transparency.  Beyond pricing, we look for a business that has a heart for the consumer and will be there with best in class customer service.”

The Consumer Team’s slow, deliberate and thorough vetting process is what Thomson said will limit its long-term growth potential.   Thomson explained, “Because of the way we carefully select businesses to join The Consumer Team, we won’t be growing into a large, multi-market operation.   Doing so, would undermine the very quality that we’ve established in building our consumer advocacy initiative.  So for us, small is big.”

The Consumer Team is broadcast Saturdays from 5-7PM (Central) on 1080 KRLD Radio.   KRLD is the #1 rated news/talk station in Dallas-Ft. Worth with a weekly audience of over 500,000 persons.  For more information or to listen live, go to   The Consumer Team is produced by McQ Media, Dallas, Texas.




Consumer Team’s Thomson: Truth is More Important Than Expansion

(DALLAS-FT. WORTH, TX)   Consumer advocacy journalist Pete Thomson started his consumer radio program over 10 years ago with a goal of connecting radio listeners with reputable businesses.   Back then Thomson worked with around a dozen North Texas area sponsors who he called his “A-List” best-of-the-best.  Today Thomson’s program, The Consumer Team, is broadcast on CBS Radio’s KRLD in Dallas/Ft. Worth, the top news station in DFW and one of the biggest in the nation.  Even with the success his program has experienced, Thomson says his vision for the program is unchanged.   As he puts it, “The purpose of The Consumer Team is to bring our listeners the truth in a marketplace that is full of deception.  Every week we strive to connect educated consumers with best-in-class businesses in North Texas.”

Pete Thomson - The Consumer Team

Pete Thomson – The Consumer Team

Thomson says The Consumer Team sponsor team continues to be a small, select group.   “It’s not a big list, but it is a very good list”, Thomson said, “Since we’ve been successful in Dallas-Ft. Worth, many believe the next step is to grow The Consumer Team into a huge, multi-market machine.   So, do what we’ve done in DFW in a bunch of other markets.   I think doing that would undermine what we’ve accomplished and ultimately damage one of our biggest assets, which is listener trust.   The Consumer Team works for our listeners because it’s a small group, a select group and a very good group of businesses.  It works because I know every sponsor and guest very well.”

Indeed, other consumer advocacy and user rating platforms are bigger, and endorse thousands of businesses in hundreds of consumer categories.   Thomson, who personally vets and approves all businesses that join The Consumer Team, says a big footprint won’t work for his program.   He added, “In consumer advocacy and referral, the bigger you get the less effective you become.  Just look at Yelp and Angie’s List.   Both services started out with great intentions but are now less effective, viable and trustworthy because of their size.  And the Angie’s List model doesn’t make sense to me.   The best businesses are not always getting top ratings because of the pay-for-placement system that Angie’s List uses.”

So, Thomson says, he’ll continue with his very exclusive team of consumer advocacy experts and sponsors that he carefully selects.  Thomson added, “The fact that I must know, personally, every sponsor on The Consumer Team will limit our expansion potential, I’m certain.  But unlike other consumer advocacy programs and services out there, I’m not doing this for the money or to grow some huge nationwide advertising platform.   For The Consumer Team everything we do is driven by a pursuit of the truth.   Every week we present consumer news and information you can’t get anywhere else, along with a sponsor team that is extraordinary.    These are not just people I’ve met once or twice who have signed some document saying that they’ll treat people fairly.  Every one of our sponsors I know very, very well.   I know their managers and employees.  I know their business model and I know how their customers are treated.  It’s only because of this deep relationship that I can endorse them on The Consumer Team.  And this is the model that makes our program work.”

The Consumer Team’s standard for sponsors, according to Thomson, is the reason the sponsor team has grown slowly.  He added, “We don’t add sponsors quickly.   I guess you could say we date for quite a while before getting married.  It took me 3 years to find a car dealer that we could endorse.   It took about 2 years to find a roofing company that fit my criteria.   We could certainly get bigger faster but then we’d become like the other programs that put profit ahead of the truth.

Thomson says that the truth will drive any expansion plans for his programs.  “Anything I do in the future will have the common denominator of truth.  The truth is more important than money and profit.  It’s more important than taking The Consumer Team to other markets.  And while money and fame might be very attractive to some, staying focused on the absolute truth every day is what I’m all about.  The truth is my competitive advantage.”




Small Business: Don’t Overpay for Advertising

(DALLAS-FT. WORTH)  Consumer advocate Pete Thomson recently wrote that small business owners need to be very careful about overpaying for advertising.   Thomson’s full Op-Ed, which appeared on the website for McQ Media, details circumstances where small business can pay up to 30 and even 50 per cent too much for marketing campaigns.   Thomson, host of the weekly Consumer Team talk radio program, worked in radio and television spot sales for over 20 years.

A major obstacle facing business owners, according to Thomson, is time.  Thomson wrote, “Every day, small business owners juggle a number of  important priorities.  From HR to customer relations to paying taxes, their plate is full.  Because they often approach advertising and marketing on a very part-time basis, business owners ultimately pay way too much for their advertising.”

Pete Thomson - McQ Media

Pete Thomson – McQ Media

“Media Pricing 101”

Advertising is a commodity.   According to Thomson, “Like other supply-driven commodities, media inventory pricing is based on available inventory.  Just as seats on a plane flight are sold for a wide range of prices, media inventory is sold in a similar fashion.   Still, many business owners that buy media are not aware of price fluctuations that exist because of seasonal conditions or other factors that can impact inventory pricing.   These factors can include length of advertising campaign, pricing dictates from inside a media company, the experience of your media rep and even the advertiser category that is assigned to a client by the media company.   As an example, the rates charged to local businesses can often be vastly different than those charged to regional and national advertisers.   Because they’ll pay it, small business often pays a premium rate.   This pricing nuance has always seemed strange to me.   Small businesses, with limited resources, can often pay more than brand advertisers with much more robust budgets.”

Getting More For The Advertising Dollar

Thomson details several strategies for small business owners wanting to maximize their advertising investment.

Set an Expectation with Media:   Thomson says, “I encourage business owners to set ground rules from the beginning of a discussion with any media seller.  Start with notifying your rep (or manager) that you’re expecting competitive rates and that you’ll be vetting their presentation and pricing.”

Get Multiple “Bids”:   Like getting a second opinion on a major transaction, Thomson says that getting multiple ‘bids’ is very prudent.   “It’s amazing how competitive media companies will become when they know you’re also engaging the competition.”

Demand an Experienced Rep:   According to Thomson, about 30% of media sales people turn over every year.   He recommends, “Successful business owners don’t have time to help a media company provide ‘on the job training’ for a seller.   If you’re contacted by a media rep, insist on learning about their background before you agree to meet with them.  If they’re new to the business, either ask management for another rep or make sure a manager is closely involved on your account.”

Get “Real” Advertiser References:   Thomson recommends going deeper when asking for advertising references from a sales rep.  Thomson said, “The question goes something like ‘Give me the names 3 businesses that you’ve helped in the last 120 days.’  Then, ask for 2-3 businesses that advertised but didn’t renew.   What happened?   What did the rep learn from the experience?”

Negotiate For the Long-term:   “Media companies love long-term, annual deals,” Thomson says, “By negotiating on an annual basis, you’ll get the best rates and most generous added value.  Just make sure to include a 30 day cancellation clause in the terms.”

Timing is Everything:   Thomson says that booking at the right time can save yield big savings.  “Buying media at strategic times of the year can yield significant savings.   The period of Dec 15 to Feb 15 is generally a ‘buyers market’.    Media companies have just released new annual budgets and managers and sellers alike are under-the-gun to get the new year kick-started.   The ‘dog days of summer’ (July 15-September 15) can also be good.   Because of vacations, buying generally slows down during this period.  Times to Avoid:  October 1-Dec 1 and 60 days prior to any election.  Christmas and the political campaign season are difficult times to clear spot, let alone get a good deal.”

Get Help From a Specialist:   When selected properly, a competent advertising agency can more than justify their expense, according to Thomson.  “The pricing issue is one of several important variables that need to be addressed when buying media inventory.  Other items on the success check-list include creative, cost-per-point and cost-per-thousand measurement and negotiation for added value.  A competent agency can deliver a valuable and essential service to the advertiser.   Agencies can be hired on both a commission (percentage of the buy) or retainer basis.  Regardless of the arrangement, an effective agency will deliver significant efficiencies to a small business owner.”

Editor’s Note:   Pete Thomson is a 30 year broadcasting and marketing veteran.   He’s held positions in programming, sales, sales management and general management.   Thomson is now President/CEO of McQ Media, a Dallas-based advertising and marketing firm.   Thomson and McQ Media are activity in consumer and small business advocacy.  McQ Media produces the weekly radio program, The Consumer Team.  









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