(By Rick Fink) It just might be the most overlooked step in the advertising sales process. Missing it can make the road to future sales extremely difficult. Getting it right can set you up for a beautiful, trusting, lifelong relationship with your clients.
It’s a simple question, but it oftentimes scares the daylights out of the untrained, unprepared marketing rep. That question is “How’s the ad campaign working?” or “How is the sales event going?” As a media rep handling the account, you must know if it’s working or not. Finding out after the fact doesn’t cut it and nearly always leads to another business owner saying, “I tried radio once and it didn’t work.”
Keep in mind, prior to any ad schedule airing, regardless of whether it is a long-term branding campaign or a short-term sales event, we highly recommend that you have clear expectations set and agreed to by both the rep and the client. (That’s another topic for another day!)
Here is what you should do after the client has agreed to the schedule, the creative, and the expectations:
1. Connect with the client the day the ads begin and let them know they’ve started. “Mr./Mrs. Advertiser, just letting you know that as planned, your schedule starts tomorrow/today.” Sure, they should already know this, but I can almost assure you the other media reps aren’t doing this. You will be the professional, and, while a subtle thing, at some point it will get recognized.
2. Depending upon the length of the schedule, a few days to a week into the schedule, reconnect with the client to see how it’s going. This is where the fear and trepidation set in. What if it’s not going so well? The client will surely blame it on me or my station, or on radio. If it’s not going as expected, there is a reason! We must find out what that reasons is.
3. Start asking questions. “Mr./Mrs. Advertiser, what are you seeing or not seeing? What are you hearing or not hearing? Why do you think it’s not working as well as we hoped?” Then ask questions of yourself. Is the schedule strong enough to have an effect? Is the creative and/or offer compelling enough to move people? Are there factors beyond your control? Is the business owner or decision-maker being honest with you? Heaven forbid a business owner should ever lie to us about the results, good or bad! It may be a case where the advertising is doing its job and creating traffic, but the sales or leads aren’t being closed once the customer is in the store or the lead has been received by the client’s employees via phone, e-mail, etc. As a side note, we should always look at the message/creative and schedule first. If it’s not working, this is typically, but not always, the problem.
4. There can be and are other reasons advertising sometimes does not work. To wrap your head around and get acquainted with the possibilities, we suggest you review Roy Williams’ “12 Causes of Advertising Failure” or his more recent list “10 Most Common Mistakes in Marketing” (both easily found online). At minimum, these will give you thoughts for discussion with your client and yourself!
Once you have it figured out and know what the reason(s) might be, take action and try to fix it — immediately! I can assure you, radio is not the problem. If needed, rewrite and/or re-produce the ad. Is it extra work? Absolutely, but it’s our job to give our very best effort for the client. Again, I can almost guarantee you that other media reps aren’t going to extend themselves to this level of service.
As sales managers, it’s your job to train your reps on how to ask this question and, equally important, to know how to respond to the answers they hear. Understand, it’s a legitimate fear for most reps, even for some veterans. No one wants to hear that what they told their client would work isn’t working! But once they understand how to ask the question and respond, and they see the difference it will make in their future relationship with the client, then and only then will they overcome the fear.
Clients want results, but equally important, they want a media rep who truly cares about their success. The difference between a good rep and a great rep, and the difference between short-term business and a beautiful, trusting, lifelong relationship with your clients, sometimes come down to this one little question: “How’s the campaign going?”
Rick Fink is President of ENS Media USA and Business Partner with Wayne Ens of Ens Media Inc. Ens Media specializes in helping media companies across NorthAmerica create stronger partnerships with locally owned businesses and increase stations’ local direct sales with several proven revenue-generating programs.