Jeff Left, Creative Services Director, KFGO-FM, Fargo, ND, offers these tips to pass on to the sales department:

My sales staff came to me recently and asked me to help them eliminate any problems they give us in production. And they wanted to know if there was anything they could tell a client to make things easier. I came up with five problems I see most, and a possible solution for each. I hope you can use them.

Problem #1: One of the biggest problems we have in educating a client about copy and production is the importance of the items in the spot. Have the client list all points he wants to make in the commercial IN ORDER OF PRIORITY, with the most important going first and the least important at the end. Too many times, we get a list of copy points and find out after we've created the copy, or in most cases, after the production is done, that some of the items at the bottom of the list were the most important, or that the top half of the list didn't matter at all. It was just filler copy! If you make this list a standard in your office for all of your clients, you won't have to re-cut so many spots.

Problem #2: Always make sure the address you give to the production department is the address the client wants on the ad. There's a big difference between 2108 1st Avenue South and what everyone else refers to as "off Broadway next to the Burger King." Always remember who the copy is talking to.

Problem #3: There is nothing worse than hearing a spot air on Monday that says, "Don't miss this sale all day Saturday, Sunday, and Monday!" All copy should always focus on the "gate!" We should never have a spot that says, "Sale ends Monday" playing on Monday! We should create the gate by selling that today (not Monday) is the last day to save...till nine tonight, today, this afternoon. Spots should remind me in my busy day that I only have ten hours left to get the deal. If the spot doesn't have this kind of immediate effect, the client loses traffic (the gate), and the sale isn't as big as it could have been. Then the station looks like it doesn't deliver the audience we said it would. I would create six spots for each day of the sale before I would ever give a client a generic spot for the week. Listeners have to be reminded all the time. Update everything for the client.

Problem #4: Paper time versus real time. You have a problem when the second hand doesn't move slowly enough for the copy you're reading. Clients always seem to end up with forty seconds of copy for a thirty-second spot. To solve this problem, all the client has to do is read the copy and put a watch to it. Make them read it out loud. It's a good lesson for a client to read the copy and see for themselves what is too fast or too slow. They get "hands on" experience with inflection, expression and pacing, all of the things we go through. With so many stations' programming coming off a dish, anything over thirty seconds is gonna get clipped anyway, unless the station joins the programming late.

Problem #5: Sales reps must get the client to commit to a "perception" ad or a "price and item" ad. When you marry the two, you get, at best, fifty percent of what each ad could have done separately.

The Perception Ad: Let's say I was going to do an impression of Andy Rooney (in parody or with disclaimer) for a client. Because Andy takes his time to talk and pauses a lot to sell a statement, I need a lot more "time" to speak. More often than not, a perception ad has LESS COPY! These ads provide a perception about the client that leaves the listener with a good feeling, a cool feeling, or a hip feeling about the client. Image in these ads is everything.

The Price and Item Ad: Let's say there are four or five items the client wants to showcase. Now I lean on a different kind of "word economy." Now I can't forget day, date, place, hours open, sale items and prices.

When you marry these two types of spots, you get a half hip ad with little image, and half the sale items with half the impact of it being a big sale. Convince the client that it should be one or the other. The most important ad is the perception ad. Sales come and go, but the one thing a client should remember is that people believe what they hear. If you're not on the air with a great perception ad, the listener might start believing the competition's perception ad.

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