Radio-Hed-Logo-2My consulting clients often ask me, “How can I get my clients to do radio right? How can I convince them to not shoot themselves in the foot? I create great commercials, but they turn ‘em down and want to run with an ineffective ad.” It’s because we haven’t prepared them. They’re simply acting from their comfort zone. In their mind, “If it sounds like a commercial, it must be OK.”

Whether you’re an account executive, writer, producer or creative director, setting the stage with your client is in everyone’s best interest. It all starts with us. If we take responsibility for helping our client understand what’s really going to work, then they’re more likely to approve an effective commercial. Here are some suggestions (with previous articles referenced in parentheses for more information):

No one likes surprises. Simply gathering a few facts, leaving your client with some literature and returning with a spec. commercial will not guarantee you success. Get them to participate in the discovery process. This is where the final approval begins. Ask them ANA-type questions (Audience Needs Analysis), probe for stories (The Secret Life of Clients). When they reveal tidbits that would make good commercial stories, or share insights that will help humanize them to listeners (Be Human!), give them positive feedback. Ask your client: “What would you like prospective customers/clients to know/feel about you that they don’t know/feel now?”

Don’t be afraid to talk about the advantages of print, (In Praise of Print) but be clear that people make most of their buying decisions emotionally, and radio is unsurpassed at touching the emotions (Emotional Charge). Don’t let them try to pack a spot with too much information (Condense It). Listeners are multitasking moving targets who can only be expected to catch one idea (Niche, Niche, Niche).

Build a case for having unique commercials. Review the insights that they’ve given you. Let them know, that based on their input, you’ll create a message that won’t sound like a typical commercial. Prepare them for something different (Stop Lying) (Start Telling the Truth), and then deliver it. When you return, remind them of the previous discussion where you both agreed to launch a campaign (Create a Campaign) that doesn’t sound like a series of typical commercials.

These suggestions will help put you and the advertiser on the same side of the desk, so it’ll be less of a buyer and seller relationship. You’ll both be part of a team working to win the hearts of prospective buyers.

If you’re a client, you can use the suggestions in this article to prepare yourself to do the best radio advertising you’ve ever done.

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