By Holly Buchanan

Jack is the Sales Manager of a real estate company. He wants to advertise a new subdivision. He sets up a schedule with a local radio station. When the reps come in to talk about copy, he spends less than 5 minutes with her. He’s a busy guy—he’s got builders, bankers, and bosses demanding 18 hours of his day. And besides, that’s what radio stations are for. They’ve got the creative people. It’s their job to come up with a commercial that works.

The schedule runs. It doesn’t get much response. Jack blames the radio station. They sold him something that didn’t work.

So, whose fault is it the schedule didn’t work? The client’s - Jack.

Yes, it’s true, the radio station rep is also to blame. She didn’t want to blow the sale by pushing the client for better information. But the other larger problem is Jack’s misunderstanding of how the creative process works. Many clients spend hours, days, weeks dickering over schedules. But when it comes time to sit down and discuss copy, they can’t be bothered. They think it’s the radio station’s job to come with a creative commercial that will get attention and send people to their business in droves.

Here’s the thing. Without good information, the radio station can’t create a good commercial.

If the only copy points the creative team has to work with are “rolling hills, quiet cul-de sacs, family friendly, and convenient location,” you’re not going to get a very convincing commercial. Almost every subdivision has those same copy points. Had Jack taken the time to sit down with the sales rep (or the creative team), you might have found out that the subdivision had a special deal with a mortgage company, so for the same monthly payment you’d make for a 3 bedroom house at a comparable subdivision, you could get a 4 bedroom house for the same payment at Jack’s subdivision. For growing families, that extra room is a big deal.

So, if you’re the ad exec, know that if you leave the client’s office without a clear idea of what needs to be said, your creative team isn’t going to know either. They may be able to put together a creative commercial, but chances are very good it’s not going to work. Fight to get good information. Fight for the success of the campaign. It’s a lot easier to re-sign a happy client than to have to prospect a brand new one to make up the billing of the client you lost.

If you’re the creative person, help your account exec sell the commercial. If you’ve all done a good job with the uncovery, and have a sound strategy, explain how the strategy is implemented in the commercial. That will help her overcome any objections from the client, especially if the client has already signed off on the strategy.

Tell your clients how important it is to take the time to be an active participant in the information gathering process. The better the research or “uncovery,” the stronger the message, the more successful the campaign.

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