Are You Pampering Your Clients?

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(by Bob McCurdy) Before any kind of surgical operation, the surgeon typically meets with the patient to discuss the procedure to ensure that the patient knows exactly what to expect; and after the surgery meets with the patient to discuss how things went.

Maybe we can take a page from the medical profession. And maybe we spend a little bit more time with clients prior to a campaign (particularly with new advertisers), ensuring that they understand what to “expect,” and reviewing that the duration of a campaign as well as ad history matters. That it will take longer to generate results for an advertiser who’s been “dark” or advertising sporadically. It’s not like turning on the electricity. If it was, all ad flights would be one or two weeks.

It’s not only their ad spend that matters but the competition’s as well. No advertiser competes in a vacuum, if they did they wouldn’t have to advertise. Ad success typically requires a sustained share-of-voice advantage. Note: it’s a good idea to track the activity of our client’s competition during their flight.

Macro events such as the economy, weather, political developments, etc. could all impact ad results. For instance, the recent heat wave on the west coast and some of the adverse weather in the mid-west could dramatically impact ad effectiveness. While the “weather” referenced above is obvious, there are other more localized less traumatic developments that could impact ad effectiveness. Note: These are often forgotten if not recorded.

Micro developments such as a competitor’s “offer” and creative matters. If our client is an auto dealership and their Nissan competitor is doing a BOGO (buy one, get one) leasing promotion as we heard recently in Ft. Myers, it could impact their business. Note: It’s in our self-interest to track these as well. If their offer and creative is better than “ours,” their advertising will likely be more effective than “ours.”

Sometimes, just maintaining sales volume is success. The competition’s goal is to steal (“conquest”) our client’s customers, as our client’s goal is to siphon off some of their competitor’s. So sometimes, just “holding the fort” in the face of a competitive onslaught is a “win.”

Advertising’s impact doesn’t stop the day a flight ends. Advertising has short-term, and to a lesser degree, longer-term impact. This is referred to in marketing circles as a “carryover effect” or the “lagged” impact of advertising from one period of time, on sales in another. A campaign that ends in May doesn’t mean it doesn’t/can’t impact sales in June or July. It certainly can, albeit, to a lesser extent than during the campaign, but it certainly can. Our client needs to be aware of this.

So we’ve done an effective “pre-op,” the flight is completed, now it’s time for the “post-op” diagnostic recap. It’s a great opportunity to discuss with our clients what worked, what didn’t, but more importantly, what we believe could be refined in subsequent flights to produce better results. Unquestionably, an effective “post-op” meeting will require some additional work but could make the difference between getting a renewal or not.

If our market has access to Media Monitors data, we could illustrate, at a minimum, the competitive radio landscape in which our client’s ad and offer competed. This diagnostic would be even more illuminating if we had access to Media Monitors TV and newspaper data.

If we don’t have access to monitoring data, with a little extra effort and focus and as noted above, we could still track the competition’s “offers,” their creative (as they will likely have aired on our cluster as well), and their media weight, even if it’s only for our cluster.

The first step toward a renewal is effectively discussing and establishing campaign goals and making sure the client understands some of the fundamentals of marketing. No surprises.

The second step is to stay in touch with the client throughout the campaign, refining the schedule, creative, and even offer if necessary. Conveying at a minimum that their success is important to us.

The third step toward a renewal is the post-campaign diagnostic and it could be the most important of the three. When done effectively it enables our client to better understand the marketing environment in which their offer and ad spend competed and provides us with an opportunity to put into some context the campaign results and how we might produce even more moving forward.

While these three steps can’t be done for every client due to sheer time and manpower issues, we could all probably be having these in-depth conversations with more clients more frequently than we are currently.

Bob McCurdy is The Vice President of Sales for The Beasley Media Group and can be reached at bob.mccurdy@bbgi.com

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