By Mark Margulies
I got a note yesterday from one of the AEs we work with. It’s the same note I get at least 3 or 4 times a month. The note simply said—in BIG BOLD LETTERS so I wouldn’t miss its meaning—“THE CLIENT DID NOT LIKE THE SPOT!” Now, first of all, this violates one of the basic tenants we preach here at BENMARadio, which is, “it doesn’t matter whether the client likes the spot or not. It’s whether it will effectively accomplish their goal.” Now that doesn’t mean we go out of the way to antagonize clients or put things on the air they hate. We’d love every client to love every spot. But the point is, writing a spot to please a client is counter productive, because you're being judged on results. And the road is strewn with the bodies of Account Executives who have bent over backwards to get a spot completely to a client’s liking, only to get that inevitable phone call two weeks later: “I really love the spot you guys did. I’m just not getting any results. I have to cancel.”
Thus, our philosophy has always been: try to please the client, but make sure they understand, RESULTS COME FIRST.
Having said that, we can now delve into what this diatribe is all about. I'm puzzled. I don't understand something about our business. We work in a medium that’s solely audio. Yet, we must have remarkably clairvoyant clients. Because all “THE CLIENT DIDN’T LIKE THE SPOT” messages are delivered based on the client’s READING of the copy. That’s right, they never hear the spot. Ever. They just decide they don’t like what they’re reading or what the Account Executive is reading to them over the phone. I used to do the same thing to my dad when I was 5:
“Mark, try the asparagus.”
“No. I don't like asparagus”
“Have you ever tasted asparagus?“
“The how do you know you don’t like them?“
Your clients are acting like a 5 year old. In our business, hearing is believing. So how could someone allow a client to say something like that without being challenged? How can you relegate a piece of creative to the garbage heap before it ever got HEARD? No one, save maybe Robin Williams, can properly transmit a radio commercial to a client, especially one which involves split second timing, sound effects or specialty effects and music. To allow someone to destroy an idea without ever letting it come to life is simply pandering to the client because they come equipped with a check. And that doesn’t do either the client, OR THE STATION, any good.
Now, as a Production Director, you’re reading this, and cringing, thinking, “Please, don’t create more work for me. That means salespeople will demand we produce every spot and that’ll double our workload.” Which is exactly why, the education process starts with you. Selling spots on likes and dislikes is a sure way to keep a revolving door of clients going. But acquiring information, then creating and delivering spots based on achieving goals, will dramatically increase your client base, and create happier clients. That, in the long run, will mean LESS WORK FOR YOU—less correcting problems, less duplication of the same job, and less intervention by clients who don’t know what they’re doing but only receive guidance from salespeople in the form of , “Sure. We can do whatever you want.”