Not everyone buys radio according to the same criteria, so why do we always try to sell it in the same basic way?
The first thing you need to know is how your client will make his or her decision. Regardless of what you may have been told, advertisers never make a decision based on price alone. Their criteria may be as simple as price divided by audience size, but it?s never spot rate alone, so please don?t hide behind that myth.
The second thing you need to know is that virtually everyone in radio has a blind spot. (Don?t be embarrassed. If you knew it was there, they wouldn?t call it a blind spot.) Radio?s blind spot is its relentless preconception that every advertiser should have a target demographic: ?Who is your customer??
There are three main groups of radio buyers:
1. Advertisers with no firm criteria for decision-making regarding ad schedules. They need you to be the expert.
2. Advertisers who just want the best deal they can get on one or more of the ?right? stations. They have specific demographic and/or psychographic targets.
3. Advertisers who think of radio as ?mass media? and believe radio audiences to be largely interchangeable. They?re buying 12+ or 18+ reach and frequency at the best prices they can find. You don?t like to hear that, but there it is. You can?t corner these buyers into a ?target demographic,? but on the other hand, they?re willing to pay you for every listener you?ve got, regardless of age, sex, income, or other qualitative criteria.
These three main categories of ad buyers can be separated into distinct groups at two precise forks in the road:
FIRST FORK: ?Do you have a preferred method for evaluating radio schedules, or would you like me to give you some recommendations??
Basically, what you?re asking is, ?Who?s going to be the expert here? Me or you?? If your prospect has no specific criteria for making decisions, you?re dealing with a babe-in-the-woods, a neophyte. You?re the expert. You?re in charge. Be very careful to craft something that will deliver obvious, identifiable results because this client is counting on you. Not on your station, on you. Deliver consistent results and you?ll be in control of this account forever.
On the other hand, if your client does have specific criteria for making decisions, you need to quickly get in step with it: Be for what is. Don?t try to get the prospect to see things your way. Don?t politely argue with them. Don?t present them with new information in the hope of getting them to make a new decision. And for the love of all that?s bright and good, DON?T have a standard presentation that you impose on every buyer.
Asking a buyer to reconsider their buying criteria is like asking them to change their religion. If your prospect wants to be their own expert, let\ them, because they?re going to do it anyway, even without your permission.
Let?s assume your prospect answered the first question by stating that they do, in fact, have a preferred method for making decisions.
SECOND FORK: ?Some advertisers have specific demographic or psychographic targets while others use mass media as a way to reach the masses. I?d consider it a huge favor if you?d let me know how I can best get in step with you. Tell me what you?d like to see in my presentation and I?ll do my best to show it to you.? Listen very closely to the answer. The next words from your prospect?s mouth are likely to be the truth, even if they don?t realize it.
If the prospect talks only about audience size and rates, give them those and nothing else. If they want a ranker, give them that. If they want qualitative, give them that. If they want specific dayparts or sponsorships or ?added value? in the form of participation in station promotions, give exactly what they name.
You can try to convince buyers to buy according to how you prefer to sell, or you can sell according to how the buyer prefers to buy.
I wonder which of these works better? Why not try both and see? .
Roy H. Williams is president of Wizard of Ads Inc.
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