way-off-the-mark-logo1by Mark Margulies

You know that old saying about not being able to see the forest for the trees, right? Well, in radio, it seems to happen dozens of times each month, and all right under our very noses. So use this particular column as a starting point for instructing salespeople that it's not so much quantity, as it is quality when it comes to creating a successful radio spot.

WayOffTheMark sep98I start with a story about life here at BENMARadio. Everyday, we service hundreds of Account Executives from across the country. Everyday, our office is filled with pages and pages of information, from menus to brochures to client ideas to creative ideas. This is all the result of what Account Executives glean from clients during their various rounds of collecting information. And today's example, submitted for your approval, comes from a very thorough information package. It contained 5 pages of brochures with many areas highlighted and starred, all of which is meant to bring to our attention to what the client perceived as being essential or important. We then received a separate page explaining carefully just what the client thought would work well to promote their business. There was yet another section dedicated to further ideas which the client and our Account Executive had brainstormed together. All this, very meticulously noted, all for one 60 second spot. The salesperson felt they had given us all the essential information we would need to convey the thoughts and wishes of their client. Very thorough, very complete, very all-encompassing. So, after assessing the information, reading through the notes, and digesting the ideas, we attempted to make sense out of the whole thing. The only problem was, a few minor items were missing--like the client's address, their phone number, and what they expected their buy to accomplish for them. Right smack dab in the middle of that forest of information, the AE had been so wrapped up with extraneous information, they forgot about the forest.

As I've said, this happens dozens of times each month, and it usually boils down to an Account Executive who's so wrapped up in the process of making sure to transmit every little detail about what the client wanted that they forgot to include some of the most basic essentials. We've seen everything from seminar information that failed to list where and when the seminar was being held, to complete omission of the client's name. Now those may seem like just simple oversights and isolated incidents, but they're not. They happen consistently, which means there's a deeper, more important problem.

It's focus. Salespeople sometimes are so consumed with gathering information and ideas like a squirrel gathering so many nuts before the frost, that they forget the essence of what it is they need to do--transmit essential information. Who, what, when, where, and how get lost because the focus and concentration is on the client's every word and idea. And an even bigger problem arises from that. Because not once is there a thought to reorient the client to the more important issues at hand, namely, how did the client want the public to react to their ad (call, stop in), and what was the client expecting to accomplish by advertising on that station? Better put, the salesperson didn't bother to find out how the client would be judging the success or failure of this buy (more foot traffic, moving certain merchandise, etc.). They were too busy writing down the mantra as dictated to them.

This has undoubtedly happened to you at some point. So please, it's important that either during a general sales meeting or individual one-on-one face-to-face, go over a few important basics with your entire sales team. Take the time to remind them that bringing indozens of pages of support materials, newspaper articles, print ads, flyers, and brochures really isn't all that helpful. A mass of information isn't going to make people respond to a radio ad. Explain that they need to simplify. Reinforce the notion that the salesperson must start by making sure they understand what the client wants to accomplish and how they want their audience to respond. Then, and only then, get a few essentials and important information that pertain to fulfilling those needs. After that, if they wish to take notes or pursue this any further, they should do so. But drive this point time and time again until the mistake of over-information is a thing of the past. Remind them that hanging on a client's every word and writing down all the information a client provides doesn't guarantee results, just writer's cramp. Be selective, to be successful.