I recently was in a position to review a series of high-quality sales presentations for several media organisations, and, at the same time, on the receiving end of yet another media organisation’s sales effort. It was quite a diverse array of players – a television station, metro newspaper, and cable entity – all with an arsenal of digital tools and Web/mobile audiences.

I was impressed with the quality of the presentations, both in graphics and content. In fact, I found myself developing enthusiasm with each organisation, their product portfolios, and the earnest professionals who were involved from each media organisation.

But the end result was the same in every case.

After providing an analysis of the marketplace, customers, and competitors, and then providing an overview of their capabilities/products, they in effect asked me to choose what products/services/tools I needed.

To me, this is tantamount to bringing a vehicle in need of repair to a reputable mechanic. The mechanic tells you all about your vehicle, provides an overview of the highway system and traffic situation, and shows you an marvelous array of shiny tools and gadgets that can be used to repair your vehicle. Then they ask you which tools you’d like them to use to fix your car.

I am not doing business with this mechanic.

If the car and mechanic analogy doesn’t resonate, try a medical one. You are not feeling well and you schedule a visit with a doctor. The doctor does an examination, discusses your health with you, and reviews the general health situation in the community. The doctor then shows you their imaging equipment, medical apparatus, and pharmaceutical supply and asks you what drugs and/or treatment you’d like administered.

The bottom line is that it is no longer sufficient that media companies offer a wide array of traditional and digital tools to their clients. It’s not even sufficient that you understand how each tool works and can explain it to the prospective client. The stakes are higher.

The client expectation today is that you can “run a diagnostic” on a business/marketing programme and prescribe the effective combination of marketing investments to effect improvement on a company’s marketing outcomes.

The increasingly diverse and sophisticated platforms, services, and marketing tools in your product portfolio is beyond the expertise of most clients and demands that your expertise rises to the occasion.

Unless your team can go beyond the mere fact that you offer an ever-growing multitude of products and services, and actually know which ones are called for, your organisation is selling products, not solutions. And you are offering these products in the context of commodities rather than investments with expectation of returns.

You will compete on price alone, slicing your margins ever thinner, because you are one of many providers.

In today’s media environment, it is the expertise your people offer that makes your product portfolio valuable.