by Sterling Tarrant
I'm a dad! Wait, let me put it this way...I'M A DAD!!!!!!! I held my baby for the first time at about 5:45 p.m. on August 3rd, twelve hours after he was born. What a cute little guy. Now I'm going nuts. He cries. He screams. He wets himself. I see myself in about forty years. But I'm not complaining, not one bit. I am truly--if you will allow me one moment to sound Christianese--rejoicing! Hallelujah, I'm a dad!
Ever since day one, I have seen little Sullivan Richard have a mind of his own. He doesn't want to sleep when I want to sleep. He doesn't want to eat when I want to eat. Whenever I suggest that he get up and entertain us, he objects. That's his way. By golly, isn't that the way of us all? We're not content to lie down and take the world as it's given to us. We want to make it our own. We want to do it our way. So it should come as no surprise when clients act like babies and object to our wonderful productions. They're just doing what comes naturally. Excuse me, I shouldn't call them babies. They do have a right to object. Just like we have a right to create, but they are babies when they don't do it our way. So there! plbblpbh!
This month we discuss how to handle objections, and how to do it much better than the way I did in my last paragraph. [See this months' Way Off The Mark on page 19 for a related article.] There are times when we miss the mark on our productions, and there are times when we know that a client is wrong for not using our experience. How do you handle it. Here to give us some objection illustrations and ideas are Mike Roberts from WCOE-FM in LaPorte/South Bend, IN, and Maureen Bulley from The Radio Store in Toronto.
Mike Roberts says: There's nothing harder to deflate a person's ego than the crushing blow of, "It sucked!" I just got two of those this week, and it's only Monday. These are both clients who have been in the community for twenty to thirty years. They've done advertising for all that time and they are in a rut. One of the clients is part of a chain, and that's Amoco Gasoline. There's three of them in town and they all get the same advertising and promotions material from Amoco. So the challenge is to differentiate, to get people to go to one above the other.
So, I'm given the task of coming up with something really creative for them. What I did was come up with this spot that said "You wouldn't take this fancy oil painting and clean it with a scrub cleaner, would you?" And you hear paper ripping and shredding, "nor would you take those fancy china dishes and wash them in a washing machine, would you?" And you hear the sound of dishes crashing, so on and so forth. The spot then continues "So why would you take your car to anywhere but the best place in town to get service...Amoco." Then the spiel about all the services and gasoline, etc.
Well, the client didn't even bother to listen to the whole opening before exclaiming, "That's a terrible commercial; get rid of it," and he mentioned something about not wanting that trash talking about his business, and so on. Everybody at the station thought the spot was great. So did I, but the client hated it.
So what do you do? Basically, you've got to grin and bear it. You can try to win them over in little pieces. What we've found to be working here, especially with old-time clients to get them to jump on board with creative spots, is to give them an example of a creative spot, and not just let them hear it, but tell them in advance why it would work.
An example of this is the old "everybody wants their phone number and address on the spot." But, of course, no one remembers it. So to solve this little problem, I say to them, "By the way, Mr. Client, what's our station address?" Invariably, they will say..."Uh...I don't know." To which I reply: "Gee, that's funny, you know we advertise it all the time for our 'Tradio' or other programs, or for people to write us if they have a problem." Doing that, we've been able to change the major objection of "My phone number or address isn't in there enough" for quite a few of our old-time clients by using that little trick.
Maureen Bully says: The best way to handle objections from clients is to reduce the risk of objection up front. I use a "Creative Strategy" questionnaire that asks the client to identify Marketing Objectives, Advertising Objectives (phone our toll-free line, visit our store), Target Group, Benefit of their product, Support (why should I buy it from you instead of someone else), Tone/Manner of Commercial (funny, serious) and Executional Considerations (like jingle, address, etc.).
I use the Creative Strategy as a yardstick to evaluate the script before I even send it to the client for approval. Does the script address the target group? Does it clearly identify the benefit to the consumer? If the answer is "yes," I know the script is right for the client.
If they call with objections, I take them through the Creative Strategy again to see if their answers have changed. If their answers are still the same, I take them through the script and tell them why it fits with their Creative Strategy.
The key is positioning yourself as "The Expert." Assure the client that you know your business as well as they know theirs. This process should begin with the Sales Representatives when they sign the order. They should tell the client that "our writers know exactly how to make your advertising work," and you should deal with the client the same way. The client is great at selling their products to customers once they're in the door. Your job is to get them in the door. A script that's "on strategy" will achieve those results.
Now, if only my newborn child could understand the strategy of why I'm wanting him to sleep. Next month, if I call you, I'll be asking "What are you thankful for." Be ready with an answer...and don't object.