9 Questions For Local Direct Customers


(By Paul Weyland) There are basic questions I like to ask new clients. I ask these questions whether I already know the answer or not, because I want to hear the answers straight from the client’s lips. It is sometimes telling how little some clients really know about marketing and advertising their own business. Educated people buy more than uneducated people. So if we understand precisely what they don’t know, we can work on specific ways to get them on board with us and perhaps turn them into clients for life.

By getting the client to answer these questions, I usually get all the information I need to put together a long-term creative campaign and a realistic budget. I limit my questions to these few in the interest of being conscientious about the client’s time. However, if the client wants to continue talking, that’s great. Here are my nine basic questions I use in the course of normal conversation.

1. Regarding marketing and advertising, what are you doing (or what have you done in the past)?
Perhaps the client still uses the newspaper or Facebook, whatever. Let’s find out precisely how the client is spending (or not spending) on advertising and marketing.

2. Why are you doing that kind of advertising?
The client might say, “Our family has always used the newspaper. We’re familiar with it, we create our own ads, we like the newspaper.” Fine. We can deal with that later.

3. Who are you trying to reach?
You’d be surprised to hear how many business owners will respond with, “We’re trying to reach everybody.” Of course, that’s impossible. No advertising campaign can reach everybody. Again, that’s OK for now. We can discuss more realistic demographics later.

4. What do people know about your business now?
I love this question because it gives the client room to open up about what they believe consumers perceive about them. Also, it gives them a chance to discuss challenges — for example, how a new competitor might be affecting their business.

5. What do you want people to know about your business?
This is the wish list question, and you can glean a lot of information from
it. The client might say something like, “We’ve been here for three generations. We know the outdoor business. We know what the fish are biting and where they are on the lake. Our employees are knowledgeable and actually use the equipment we sell. The people that work at the new box store don’t understand what they’re selling.” Many ideas for commercials and long-term campaigns come from questions 4 and 5.

6. How do people find you online?
Nowadays, you should be asking this question. Hopefully, your stations already have an online presence or you’re working on one. But the fact is our clients need help in this area. I remind clients that a lot more people come to our website than come to theirs, so it makes logical sense to tie in with ours. Even if you don’t have an online presence, you can become an expert in Google Analytics by taking a course from Google online. Then you look like an expert to the client, showing her how she might quadruple the number of people visiting her site. Selling a client on better website results can always be a back door to selling more broadcast advertising.

7. What is your average sale?
Add up all of the sales from an average day and divide by the number of paying customers. This figure (along with gross margin of profit) will help you establish a realistic budget as well as manage the client’s expectations about results from their advertising campaign.

8. What is your gross margin of profit?
Net profit is what’s left over after all the bills have been paid. It’s what the owner puts in their pocket. It’s rude to ask what net profit is. That would be like saying, “How much money do you make?” Gross margin is what’s left over after either the cost of materials or labor, but not both — that the client could reinvest back into the business. Together with average sale, knowing the client’s gross margin of profit can help you manage their expectations about results on your station. It can also help you build a strong case for asking for more money.

9. How else do you make money?
This question might help you unlock other budget sources from the same client. For example, a golf course might want to advertise for new members. But if you ask, “How else do you make money?” you might find that they do weddings on the course as well.

Try this approach the next time you meet with a local client. Or pick and choose questions from this list to add to the needs analysis you’re
already doing. If you need help understanding more about calculating
return on investment for your clients, just write or call me. I’d be happy to explain how that works.

Paul Weyland helps broadcast stations sell more long-term local direct business. Reach him at 512.236.1222 or visit www.paulweyland.com.


  1. Always good to hear from Paul. Mighty useable stuff from him, always.

    I think if a client answers “everyone” when asked who he’s trying to reach in his advertising, it implies that he sees potential in reaching a broad swath on a regular basis. He isn’t necessarily saying that he believes he
    currently is reaching everyone through use of his current formula. Nor does it imply that he believes any media can reach everyone.

    It’s been my experience that this answer reveals a prospect who will buy radio schedules that run throughout the day and night seven days a week. Long-term, too. Don’t be shy with this guy.


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