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Paul Weyland

Toothless Commercials Dont Work


Many times, local direct decision-makers turn down perfectly good creative ideas, opting instead for bland, clich-infested spots that are all about the advertiser and not about the consumer. The easiest thing to do, of course, is capitulate to the client and just run the clients spots the way they want. Many broadcast salespeople take this approach, wrongly believing that the client is always right. Not in this case. By just blindly accepting what the client wants you to run, you may be committing the broadcast version of medical malpractice. And, by allowing the client to run ineffective ads, youre simply delaying the inevitable Its not working or Its not working as well as it used to. And when the client cancels, he usually blames the station or the medium, not the message itself.
Here are some examples of client objections to good commercials:
      We dont want to appear controversial. We just want to run regular commercials the way weve always done it.
      We dont want to slam our competitors.
      Im just not comfortable without my scripts.
      Nobody will come in unless we advertise the sale.
      People always comment that they LOVE seeing/hearing my 6-year-old in my commercials.
The onus to coach the client on the benefits of running commercials with teeth in them is the responsibility of the local direct salesperson. Here is how I have dealt with namby-pamby clients on creative.
Really, the last thing you want to do is run a commercial that looks/sounds like the other commercials on the station, because instead of standing out, your spots just blend in until they become wallpaper. And, listeners/viewers have been trained to ignore wallpaper ads.
Instead, focus on the elephant in the roomthat very touchy issue that is on the minds of many of your potential customers but NOBODY is talking about. Bring that issue up right away and show consumers how your business best deals with that.

Use your commercial to show consumers how you can best solve their problems. Make the commercial about them, not about you. Talk about the benefits you can bring to consumers that the national box store competitors just cant deliver. Show consumers how its in their best interest to shop locally. For example, "We are aware that we have a high unemployment rate in (your state). Thats why we try to only buy from suppliers who make their goods right here in (your state). We think people who live here deserve the jobs."
You want locals to know that because you are local, you can do things that your national competitor cant do. And dont tell me that you dont want to say anything that might offend them, because they really dont care about you at all. In fact, they are in business to put you out of business.
Stop beating your head against the wall trying to beat them at their best game, price. Instead, sell value. How, specifically, do customers benefit when they opt to do business with you, instead of the national chain? Talk about that. Value always trumps price, except for the lowest three percent of bottom-feeders that would only shop you because you have the lowest price. Stop focusing all of your attention on the disloyal bottom-feeders and focus on building your brand with people that will stay loyal to you, even when they know they could get it cheaper elsewhere.
Why not have this conversation with your clients? It really is our elephant in the room. If you dont educate them, who will? Your competitor? An advertising agency?
Local clients are seldom creative experts. That's our job. Especially in a rough economy, good creative could be the difference between success and a final Going Out of Business Sales Event.
Paul Weyland helps radio and television stations sell more long-term local direct business at rate-card. Contact Paul at . His new book Think like an Adman, Sell like a Madman is available now at

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If only more jurisdictions would make that kind of audience and advertiser abuse a felony - which it is. Offering "poor" or "I didn't know." as a defense, would only get an extra 90 days in the hole tagged on.

- Ronald T. Robinson

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