way-off-the-mark-logo1by Mark Margulies

This month’s dilemma deals with clients who decide they want something--okay, everyone all together: "new and fresh." And I’m not going to make fun of it because that’s a worthy enough goal. After all, a client who understands that to stand out on the radio you can’t have the same-old-same-old running is a very rare gem indeed. Bravo for the guts to stand out from the crowd.

But, there’s a problem with allowing the client to be the driving force behind that “new and fresh” idea, and this is something you and your Account Executives should discuss at length in your next overall sales and strategies meeting. The problem is this: the client doesn’t really have any “new and fresh” ideas.

Seriously. Think for a moment about where the client gets their ideas. They listen to the radio. They watch TV. They read. Therefore, they’re exposed to all those images every day in every medium. Chances are, there’s something out there that caught their eye and got them to thinking. Chances are even better it’s from radio that the genesis for this whole idea took place.

So, the client hears or sees something that truly intrigues him. And what they experience really IS a “new and fresh” idea. And that gets them to thinking. “Wow. Why can’t I do something like that...?” And that’s where they start.

Case in point: we are presently working with one of our affiliates whose client has decided they want something on the order of a series of spots with a tongue-in-cheek approach dealing with XXXXXX University, the Institute for Higher Education in Audio Products. Different “professors” will lecture in a tongue-in-cheek way to steer the ads in the specific direction each one should go. A pretty good idea if produced properly. And just where does this “new and fresh” idea come from? Right. ESPN and their “Bristol University” series.

So the only problem that occurs is that this “new and fresh” approach again becomes a rehash of something that’s either BEEN done or is BEING done. And that means, it’s not so new and fresh and will not have the desired impact the client wants with the audience. Truth be told, if it’s not done well, it might have the REVERSE impact, of people being turned off by comparing it to the real thing.

The solution is simple. When an Account Executive comes to you with a pained expression on his face and the words “my client wants to do something new and fresh, like this...” on his lips, suggest that you all get together and discuss what’s really “new and fresh.” Talk directly to the client and discuss his idea, along with some ideas of your own that came about from your station’s internal creative process. Given the latitude to allow for “new and fresh,” YOU’RE the one who truly will come up with something unique, special, and different. THAT’s what being “new and fresh” is all about.

Listen brothers and sisters of the mount, it is a rare epiphany when a client allows ANYONE the latitude to attempt something “new and fresh.” Revel in it. Bask in its freedoms and use this opportunity to guide them towards creative nirvana. Show them, gently, that first off, THEIR “new and fresh” idea may not really be either. Then, guide them expertly through the maze to see that if they want something wonderfully ear-catching, to give you a little time and a lot of room. And then, have them sit back and prepare to be wowed. Because “new and fresh” in most cases won’t start with clients. They start with the people who are paid to make them happen. They start with you. Build on that idea with your sales team and you’ll see station revenues, and awards, begin to flow.

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