A New Year’s Resolution


Here’s a New Year’s resolution for broadcast salespeople: immediately stop selling spots and ratings and instead focus on formulating and selling ideas that identify and solve consumer issues. Local direct clients don’t want “spots.” They don’t want to wade through computer-generated ratings reports. What they need are ideas that will generate new customers without having to sacrifice the client’s gross margin of profit. Since you, the salesperson, are closest to the client, you must become proactively involved in conveying your client’s creative message.

Think about your client’s ideal customer. Think about the issues that this consumer might have that your client’s expertise could easily resolve. Like a good reporter, ask the client good questions. What does he or she do every single day that makes life for others safer, more luxurious, less tedious, more joyful? The client’s specific answers and examples become the substance of your commercials.

But don’t screw it up. We need to use the same language, same words, that the client already uses successfully in the store, on the lot, over the phone, or on site every single day. That makes people say, “Oh, I get that. That makes sense to me. Yes, I need you and here’s my money.”

Ask the questions. If the client says, “We have the best service in town,” find out precisely what that broad statement really means. If the client says, “We’re family owned and operated,” dig deeper. What does that statement actually mean to the consumer who needs your client the most?

Get the real meat. But avoid processing it into bland pink slime. That is, don’t try to reinterpret the words that already work for the client when he talks to customers. Because if you do, you will wind up with another cliché commercial filled with what I call “adspeak.”  Cliches are the herpes of the broadcast business. Here is my list of the most worthless phrases and expressions in broadcast today. Keeping every single one of these maggots of adspeak out of your client’s commercials is your job.

• Talk to our knowledgeable, trained staff
• Come see our friendly staff of professionals
• You’ll love our loyal, dedicated employees
• Talk to our top-notch sales staff
• (Eight) convenient locations to better serve you
• Best service in town
• Serving (your town) since 1995
• Dedicated to serving you
• Service second to none
• Our motto is to serve you
• Working hard to serve you better
• The best kept secret in town
• For all of your _______ needs
• Hurry in today
• But hurry…with prices like these, selection won’t last long
• Your premier (product or service) headquarters
• Your low-price headquarters
• Choose from a wide variety of…
• It’s a Holiday tradition…
• Save on a wide selection of…
• Our loss is your gain
• We’re slashing prices to the bone
• You’ve got to see it to believe it
• Where the customer is king
• We’re saving the best for you
• Your low-cost leader
• Come visit our beautiful, spacious showroom
• We’ve got the wheels and the deals
• You can count on us for the friendliest deal in town
• Shop the best and leave the rest to us.
• This is it!
• It’s our red-tag event!
• Just in time for the Holidays…
• We just can’t be beat
• We guarantee the lowest prices
• We’ve withstood the test of time
• We’re tried and true
• Everything drastically reduced just in time for this sale
• It’s our biggest sales event of the year
• We’ll shoot straight with you
• We’re number one
• You’ll save like never before
• Check out the deals we have in store for you
• We guarantee the lowest price or else!
• Prices have never been lower
• Unheard of
• Unbelievable
• The sales event of the decade

Post this list in your office. When you hear new ones, add them to the list.

If you must write copy, read it out loud before you submit it. Use the “Best Friend Test.”  If you wouldn’t say those exact same words to your best friend then take it out and re-write. Or better, interview and record the client or the client’s best customers.

This New Year, cut some fat. Start with cliché-free commercials and a genuine desire to help the client win new customers.

Explain clichés to your client and how your idea for commercials with no clichés is a much better idea. Focus on identifying and solving consumer issues. Like I often say, once the client is convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that your plan for his success is better than his, he’ll hand you the keys and say, “You drive.”


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