Archive for the ‘small business’ Category

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.

 

 

Why Big Banks Are Losing to Credit Unions

Frustrated by high fees, disappearing rewards and a generally non-consumer friendly reputation, many Americans are considering breaking up with their bank.   And oftentimes, the refugee consumer is taking their money to a local credit union.  It’s an exodus of money from Wall Street to Main Street that appears to be gaining momentum.  To talk about this trend, we’re welcoming Sonya McDonald, Vice President and Chief of Staff from Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union, to The Consumer Team.   Our interview will air Saturday, September 20th at 5PM Central on 1080 KRLD Radio.

Credit Unions:  Consumers Like Lower Fees, Non-Profit Structure

Credit Unions: Consumers Like Lower Fees, Non-Profit Structure

An product of 19th Century England and Germany, the credit union was invented by communities as a solution to either non-existent or onerous loan terms from the local bankers.    The credit union was, in its simplest form, neighbors helping neighbors.   Money was gathered into a central repository and loaned to its members so they could build their homes, businesses and dreams.   The credit unions were non-profit and existed to serve its members.  What a concept.

In our discussion of current day credit unions with Ms. McDonald, we’ll discuss the reasons behind the trend of consumers moving to credit unions from big banks.   We’ll review the advantages of working with a credit union versus a bank (it goes well beyond just a lack of fees or better rewards) as well as how to select a credit union.

The trend of consumers, especially the middle class, breaking up with their bank is part of a larger discussion regarding big banks and why they are bad deal for consumers.  If you’d like to get a deeper understanding of big banking in America, I recommend several books:

The Creature From Jekyll Island – G. Edward Griffin:   Although the title suggests a science fiction novel, this book is hardly fiction.  It’s about the formation of The Federal Reserve in 1911 on Jekyll Island, off the coast of Georgia.   The book, which reads like a murder-mystery masterpiece, is sad and very troubling.  After reading “Creature”, you’ll understand clearly the cartel that is Big Banking in America.  You’ll understand their power and how it affects you as a citizen, taxpayer and a consumer.

The Big Short – Michael Lewis:   Lewis is the author of several best-sellers including Money Ball, Liar’s Poker and Flash Boys.  The Big Short is a very effective chronicle of the events that caused the economic crisis of 2007-2009.   It vividly describes the mortgage meltdown along with the role that big banks played in the near destruction of our economy.

The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap – Matt Taibbi:   Known for his writing in Rolling Stone Magazine, Matt Taibbi is able to connect the dots between income inequality in America and its impact on justice and our legal system.    To be clear, this isn’t just another book about income redistribution, it’s an accurate accounting of how both the middle and lower classes of America are living in a much different America from the mega-uber-wealthy 1%.    This is a book that will disgust you.

Pete Thomson

The Consumer Team

Editor’s Note:   Pete Thomson has worked in broadcasting since 1972.   Thomson is President/CEO of McQ Media, an advertising and media firm based in Dallas, TX.  McQ Media works in the areas of consumer and business advocacy and produces The Consumer Team radio program. 

 

Consumer Team Radio: Celebrating Our Consumer Freedom

As we celebrate our Nation’s 238th Birthday, it’s a good time to ponder and appreciate the freedoms we have here in America.   In spite of the tremendous challenges that our country faces, freedom still rings in 2014.   Yet, with freedom, comes great responsibility.  As consumers, we need to be ever vigilant.  Being aware of consumer trends, research and scams isn’t just a hobby for the wise coupon cutting penny-pinchers.   Being plugged in is essential to consumer success.

The Consumer Team:  Celebrate Your Consumer Freedom

The Consumer Team: Celebrate Your Consumer Freedom

In America, the same freedom that we enjoy as consumers is also given to business.   Companies have the freedom to produce, market and sell the products that they choose, and that includes the merchandise of low quality.  Welcome to the consumer marketplace where we have the responsibility of choice.   And, as much as I despise the scammers in our midst, including many who need to be prosecuted and put out of business, I think we need to be very careful not to remove the freedoms of the marketplace.   And free consumers we must maintain the power to choose how we spend our money.

I’m troubled as I watch government agencies like The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, FDA, FTC and host of others take away freedoms that should remain in the marketplace.   And while I support some of the CFPB’s work, I believe we need to be very careful of not over-regulating the consumer marketplace.   With regulation comes less freedom and generally higher consumer costs.   We, the people and not the US government, should decide whether or not a company is successful.  It’s called voting with our wallet.

Over the next few days, maybe as you’re scanning the shelves at the grocery store or marveling at all the high tech toys at Best Buy or on Amazon, take a moment and appreciate the fact that all these products, all this ingenuity (both good and bad) is a result of freedom in America.   And remember that, in your life as both a citizen and a consumer, your vigilance is what keeps freedom alive.

Happy Fourth of July from all of us on The Consumer Team.

 

Pete Thomson

Founder – The Consumer Team

Saturdays – 5 to 7PM (Central) on 1080 KRLD

Listen Live:  Click Here

The Consumer Team is produced by McQ Media, Dallas, Texas.

 

 

 

 

 

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 http://www.mcqmedia.us.

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.

 

 

 

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.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consumer Team Recognizes Speed of Light Broadband for Excellence

(DALLAS-FT. WORTH, TX)    Pete Thomson, host of The Consumer Team radio program, announced today the addition of Speed of Light Broadband to the Consumer Team’s list of ‘Consumer Certified Sponsors’.   Speed of Light Broadband is a leader in providing high-speed internet access to consumers living in rural areas north of Dallas-Ft. Worth.

Speed of Light Broadband:  Bringing high-speed internet to rural consumers

Speed of Light Broadband: Bringing high-speed internet to rural consumers

Thomson commented on the addition of Speed of Light Broadband to The Consumer Team.  He said, “For years consumers and small business owners in rural areas were forced to use less-than-desirable modes of internet connectivity.    Before the emergence of Speed of Light and their high-speed wireless technology, consumers were stuck using slow connections from dial-up and satellite internet providers.   With Speed of Light Broadband, the rural customer can now surf the web at speeds previously unavailable in rural areas.”    Thomson cited Speed of Light’s local ownership and commitment to service excellence as key strengths of the company.   Thomson said, “In addition to delivering very fast internet service, Speed of Light is locally owned and operated right here in North Texas.   Their phone support is Texas-based which means no off-shore phone nightmares.   And the service is very dependable.   Rural consumers who have been frustrated by weather outages and other performance issues common with satellite internet will love the consistent, day-to-day performance of Speed of Light Broadband.”

Bryan Neumann, Director of Operations for Speed of Light Broadband will be joining Consumer Team host Pete Thomson as a special guest on a regular basis.   According to Thomson, Neumann will be contributing to the Consumer Team talk radio program on a number of levels.   Thomson added, “Bryan is an expert on several aspects of the internet, digital communications and technology.   We’re going to be tapping into his vast knowledge base regarding topics like internet privacy and security, computer equipment buying tips and other areas of interest.   In addition, he’ll talking about the exciting things that Speed of Light is offering the rural community north of Dallas along the Highway 380 Corridor.”

For more information on Speed of Light Broadband, call 866-599-7652 or go to http://www.solbroadband.com.  The Consumer Team is broadcast Saturdays from 5-7PM on 1080 KRLD Radio.  For more information and to listen live go to http://www.myconsumerteam.com.   The Consumer Team is produced by McQ Media Inc, Dallas, Texas.

Growing Up On Main Street Impacts Consumer Radio Host

(DALLAS, TEXAS)   Listen to consumer advocacy talk radio host Pete Thomson any weekend and you’re likely to hear him bring up his hometown, Charles City, Iowa.   A town of about 8,000 in Northeast Iowa, Charles City is a picturesque river town filled with historic turn-of-the-century homes.  Thomson lived in Charles City, or Chuck Town as the locals call it, in the 1960s.

Many of Pete Thomson’s Charles City comments relate back to his time working at his father’s Ben Franklin Store.   He describes his experience as being able to be in business school while still in grade school.  Thomson added,  “Both of my parents had their own retail businesses.  My mom owned a children’s clothing store and dad had the Ben Franklin.   From a very early age, all of us kids were involved in both stores and had the opportunity to see how the retail business worked from the inside.”

Brothers Pete (L) and Charley Thomson in front of the Ben Franklin Store in Charles City, Iowa

Most of Thomson’s time at The Ben Franklin Store was spent as a bag boy and cashier.  It was during this time that Thomson says he began to develop an interest in studying consumer behavior.   Thomson stated, “At the check out counter I had a chance to observe customers on a number of levels.  You see how they make shopping decisions, how they handle money and how they determined value.   It was an extraordinary opportunity for me to observe consumer behavior at a very young age.”

Customer satisfaction was a priority for both of his parents according to Thomson.  He said, “In a small town you’ve got to take care of the customer.  Both my mom and dad’s stores had very customer friendly return policies.  For the most part it was a no questions asked return policy.   As a result of this policy, customers were very, very loyal.”  Thomson added, “The way that my parents served the customer established a very high standard and expectation for customer service in my life.”

Another aspect of small-town life was availability of quality tradesmen for home repair and construction.  And in Charles City, according to Thomson, it didn’t take long for word to get out if a business was not honest or consumer friendly.  Thomson added, “Small towns were the original social networks.  People talk and word travels fast.  It kept people honest.”

In 1972, Thomson left his position at Ben Franklin to work for the local radio station as an announcer.   At KCHA Radio, Thomson says, he continued to learn about consumerism and consumer behavior.  Thomson said, “Local radio is the voice of small business.  At KCHA, I got a chance to see how marketing and advertising impacted a small business.  I also learned the connection between promises made in advertising and the actual delivery of that promise.”

Even though Thomson’s broadcasting career took him far away from Charles City, he says his small town ‘Main Street’ roots have impacted his broadcasting and consumer journalism career.  Thomson said, “In broadcast sales and marketing, I had a great deal of natural empathy for the small business owner because of my family’s history in business.   As a consumer advocate and radio host, my roots on Main Street set my internal standard bar very high.   Put another way, in small town Main Street America, the consumer-business relationship is special.”

Pete Thomson - The Consumer Team

Pete Thomson’s weekly consumer program, The Consumer Team, is broadcast Saturday’s from 5-7PM Central on KRLD Radio in Dallas, Texas.  KRLD is owned by CBS Radio and is one of the most listened to news stations in the Dallas-Ft. Worth radio market.  The Consumer Team is also one of the most listened to weekly consumer radio programs on the air in the US.   Each week, Thomson brings a series of timely consumer oriented news segments, interviews and features to The Consumer Team talk radio program.   As Thomson puts it, “Our goal on The Consumer Team is to save our listeners time, money and grief in their consumer lives.  From the big ticket items to every day purchases, we talk about improving all aspects of the consumer’s life.”

In addition to regular interviews with writers from Consumer Reports Magazine, who Thomson calls ‘the best in the business’, The Consumer Team features a team of local business owners that contribute to the program.   Thomson said,  “All of our sponsors are thoroughly checked out and vetted.  As a result, when a listeners hears a sponsor expert on the air, they can contact them with confidence.  They are Consumer Team Certified.”

For 2013, Thomson says, The Consumer Team will be focused on a number of core areas.   The first is finding new ways for his listeners to save money in both large and small purchases.   Secondly, Thomson says, The Consumer Team is always looking to expose scams and other danger areas for consumers.   And each week, Thomson says his roots on Main Street in Charles City, remain a foundation for him.  Thomson said, “Small town Main Street is still very consumer friendly.  Every week on The Consumer Team we try to bring those values and ethics to our program.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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