Radio Hed: Spec. Spots - How to Sell Ideas to Clients

Radio Hed Logo 2I was never a great radio salesperson. My success from my first full-time job as a radio account executive came about from three things:

1. Asking my clients lots of questions.
2. Distilling the answers into stories I could use to help them prosper.
3. Making the stories into spec. spots to engage the advertisers’ imaginations and help close sales.

It’s not something that was taught to me by a manager. It was just what we had done at the college radio station. I figured, if it worked there, why not in the “real” world?

Sometimes I got lazy and tried to use a spec. spot to open a sale. That proved to be a waste of my time, the client’s time, and the time and effort of the radio staff members who helped me produce it. It was a painful exercise that almost never resulted in a sale.

When I approached the prospect interaction with genuine interest about how, what, where, when and why the advertiser did what he did, I’d have more than enough material for a campaign. I found that probing for answers to unexpected questions that none of my competitors were asking, was the most successful.

When I returned to the prospect with a proposal and a spec. spot based on their input, I’d almost always leave with an advertising schedule.

Do I believe in the power of speculative radio spots to sell? Oh yeah, but not as a substitute for sloppy selling, and not as a way to begin the sales process.

Walking in on an initial call with a spec. spot risks insulting the prospect, because you’ve made assumptions without defining what makes that advertiser unique.

For me, spec. production became an excellent follow up to an intelligent discovery process, especially if I was smart enough to get the prospect to “buy in” to the commercial approach I promised. Prepping them for the audio magic I’d return with helped eliminate potential objections.

The broadcasters I work with in all size markets have found this approach works. I think you might too.

Let me know your thoughts and ideas on spec. spots. Email me jeffrey@hedquist.com and I’ll include them in future articles.
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