(Paul Weyland) Selling — and this is my definition — is simply the modification of the behavior of another person, without that person’s necessarily knowing that his or her behavior is being modified, in order to arrive at a mutually beneficial conclusion. Would you go along with that? In other words, it’s practicing psychology without a license. And when media is what you’re selling, if you’re good at it and you’re involved with creative, now you’re practicing psychology without a license on a massive scale!
So, if you’re into this for a living, why would you unintentionally drop bombs into your presentations that make it seriously more difficult for you to arrive at that mutually beneficial conclusion?
Understand that I have hardly ever met a local direct decisionmaker who is an expert at creative, much less an expert at media buying. You’re supposed to be the expert, guiding the client toward better advertising campaign ideas, as well as guiding her toward a sufficient schedule so that the commercial can reach the people who need to see or hear it the most.
But instead, here’s what salespeople, even some with decades of experience, will say when it’s time to talk about the creative. “OK, what do you want to say in the commercial?” Honk!
Nooooooo! Again, the local direct decisionmaker is most likely not an expert at creative. Look, they have the same lifetime of experience watching television and listening to the radio that we have. So they think commercials are supposed to sound and look like commercials. When you ask them what they want to say, out will pop the same old tired and meaningless and mediocre ad-speak cliché words and phrases they’ve heard all their lives.
“We’re family-owned and -operated, sons Ed and Rick both work here [yeah, we want to know where those little criminals are every minute of the day], we’re all A.S.S.- certified [whatever that means], blah, blah, blah.”
We dutifully write all of that crap down, take it back to the station, mix in some of our own favorite clichés, and then give that to production. The production person takes that information and generates another CrapMaster commercial that looks or sounds just like everyone else’s spot.
In the meantime, we don’t use any of the successful talking points the client uses day in and day out to make sales on the showroom floor, on the lot, on the phone, in the client’s office. No. Those jewels are absolutely absent from the copy. Nor does the spot convey the client’s moral obligation to do the right thing for his customers. In other words, it’s doomed to work marginally at best, and at worst to cause failure, despair, hard feelings, and cancellations.
The commercial turns out to be all about the client and not about identifying and solving everyday consumer problems. We have to control the creative, and we need to make that creative all about the consumer, not about the client.
You know, value almost always trumps price. People don’t like being “sold,” but they don’t mind being informed. So let’s say you know something extremely valuable that the client does not know. Say, how to make commercials that really work for the client and make his cash register ring, without the client’s having to sacrifice his gross margin of profit. And let’s say that your plan is so good that the advertiser is now absolutely convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that your plan for his success is better than his. To the point that he’s ready to hand you the keys and say, “You drive.” And then you screw it up with this question.
“Well, what’s your budget for this?” Honk!
Nooooooo! You don’t ask them what their budget is, because they’re skeptical and they’ll low-ball you almost every single time. Provided you’ve already done some homework, you do an ROI analysis based on their average sale and gross margin of profit, and you tell them how much it’s going to cost. Go high. Take what you’d normally ask for a month, and ask for that much a week. You can always come down when negotiating, but after that it’s really hard to go up.
I tell local direct decisionmakers what it would cost to own their product or service category (even if they can’t afford that right now), because they have a right to know how much the Cadillac Plan could cost. Now they can aspire to get to that point someday. You should set the bar by telling the client how much this great idea will cost. You raise the standard. But don’t blow it again by saying:
“OK, we’ll run this for next month.” Honk!
Nooooooo! Always sell long-term. I tell clients, “I’m here to help you set up a five-year marketing and advertising plan. What we’ll do is break this down into annual increments so we can measure progress.”
If the idea is good enough, the client will nod, because it looks like someone who knows what they’re doing is on board. Heck, let’s be honest. Most of these clients don’t have a five-month plan. Many don’t even have a five-week plan. That’s why they jump around from medium to medium to eventually nothing at all.