By Jason Meyers
Today’s advertisers have more choices than ever before. From newspapers to television to the Internet and multimedia, it’s more competitive than ever out there! So, how can you start thinking more like a marketing strategist? It’s easy when you know how to ask the right questions.
“Who are your main targets?” “How is your business different from your competitors?” “What benefits do your customers value?”
Whether you call it a “needs-analysis,” “creative consultation” or “sales brief,” you can begin building credibility with your clients by asking questions designed to reveal critical marketing challenges. Asking questions is a great way to establish lasting relationships, improve understanding and build trust. It will also help you focus your message on the right prospects so you can get better results for your client. That’s important for repeat business and your station’s bottom line.
Find Your Target
Effective advertising begins with a clear definition of your client’s target audience. This seems obvious, but think about it. How many times have you produced a spot without ever considering the target audience?
It’s easy to get caught up in the everyday rush. (Not to mention inconsiderate sales reps who deliver copy at 5 p.m. on a Friday—scribbled on a bar napkin.) We all have our production horror stories, but what’s scarier is when your client decides to cancel their advertising because it didn’t work.
Your #1 goal is to ask questions that drill down below the obvious attributes such as age, sex and income levels. Ask your client to speculate on what their ideal customer looks like. Where do they live, shop and dine out? What movies do they enjoy? Do they use computers? What sites do they surf and which musical groups do they prefer?
Then ask for a hypothetical physical description of the target so you can write copy that speaks directly to them. Your client will appreciate your attention to detail, especially when their commercials begin to make their cash register ring.
Showing people an advantage is another effective strategy for success. Whether you’re selling the latest in home entertainment, furniture, cars or clothing, most people share the same basic needs and desires.
Today’s consumers want to save time and money. They generally want to improve their appearance, gain self-confidence, appear stylish, and they want to feel confident about their purchase. As you begin crafting radio messages for your clients, keep in mind: it’s not enough to simply inform shoppers about product features. You have to persuade listeners by showing how they will directly benefit from buying the product.
Evaluate the Competition
Another step to creative success means taking time to gain an understanding of your client’s competition. The extra effort you make researching this information on your own will demonstrate your total commitment to customer service. In addition, it will empower you to create well-focused commercials that impact revenue.
Aside from utilizing local and national market statistics, comparing ad budgets and consumer spending patterns, there are many non-traditional ways you can “research” the competition.
Try visiting the competition as a customer and start asking questions about features and benefits. Talk to other customers in the store and ask about their experiences with the company’s products and services. Take notes and observe interaction. Then use the same “research” techniques on your own clients to improve their advertising.
Define a Position
There are many books available that discuss the science of positioning. Most useful are The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout and What’s the Big Idea? by George Lois, who argues great advertising is not a science, but an art.
Whether you position your client’s business based on tested methodology or dare to discover outrageous solutions to creative problems, you owe it to your loyal clients to brainstorm ideas. There’s nothing more exciting than helping a client re-invent their business or build a successful brand from scratch.
Now that you’ve taken the time to research your target, list benefits, evaluate the competition and define a position, you are ready to offer your client customized marketing solutions. Start by painting a multimedia picture that illustrates how your station’s combined services work together to add synergy to your campaign. For example, show how your cluster can offer superior reach and frequency. Or invent new ways to link advertisers to your station Web site. Brainstorm on contest ideas and ways to help your client build a database of qualified shoppers.
Once your client sees the potential reach and revenue that radio can provide, you can use the information gleaned from your fact-finding session to create compelling broadcast messages that move products.
Practice Makes Perfect
Now it’s time to whip up a few spots. You’ve done your homework and your client can’t wait to get started. But where do you begin? Will your campaign focus on specific products and prices? Or will it concentrate more on image and branding? Based on your research, the answers to these questions will be clear, since you already know what’s important to the target.
It’s up to you to approach your client as a consultant who specializes in making creative recommendations based on intelligent research. This type of consultative selling takes practice, courage and tact, however your extra efforts will benefit everyone. The spots you produce will actually work. Shoppers will identify with your client’s message and sales will rise! As you gain more credibility and trust, you’ll discover the added value of asking detailed questions early, rather than explaining why your client’s advertising didn’t work later.