In a recent posting I declared, “Never give a client the authority to ‘approve’ the copy — that is, the actual script.”
I went on to explain why it’s a bad idea and, in fact, unfair to the client. And I ended by promising in a subsequent posting, I’d answer the question:
“How do you get a client to approve a commercial without giving them script approval?”
Especially with a new client, it’s important for you to establish that you’re the expert.
If you begin your relationship with the understanding that the client is buying not just “commercials” but instead your station’s expertise in motivating its listeners to act on the client’s sales message, the relationship is likely to be more enjoyable and profitable for both of you.
(One way you begin this process is to define them as “sales messages,” not as “commercials.”)
Naturally, you don’t simply take the client’s newspaper ad and agree to turn into a radio commercial. Instead, you ask lots & lots of questions about:
- The client’s specific goals
- The client’s customers
- The client’s real “story”
The real story is not that they’re the oldest shoe store in town.
But it might be that they have put shoes on the feet of more people in your town than any other shoe store, starting back in The Great Depression when Great-Great-Grandpa opened his little cobbler shop and extended credit to anyone who would look him in the eye and promise to pay when he could.
You define the client’s Unique Selling Proposition: “Why should I give my money to you, rather to your competitor?” (The answer, of course, must be from the customer’s point-of-view, not the client’s.)
And before you leave the client with your promise to create a whiz-bang advertising campaign, you establish the client’s Conditions of Satisfaction:
What absolutely must be included in the commercials — uh, in the sales messages?
- Low price guarantee
- Three locations
- Putting shoes on the feet of Smallville residents for five generations
- 50% off selected Bally stock
Write it all down, in plain sight of the client.
When the client is finished, you say:
“And what else?”
The client might add one or two items.
“And what else?”
The client probably has run out of “what else.”
Now you look at that list and chop away at anything that you don’t believe is essential.
For example, the client probably wanted his phone number mentioned. Three times.
If you’ve educated him properly, you’ve already explained why a shoe retailer shouldn’t waste valuable commercial time touting its phone number.
If so, you remind him now. If you forgot to educate him on that point, do so now.
Three Verbal Strategies for Chopping Away Excess Copy Points
1. “If you had to choose between (Point A) and (Point B), which would you say is more important?” (Client replies, you nod your head.) “I agree. So let’s just cross off (Point B).”
2. “Mary, as you know, every second counts in a radio commercial. Yours is going to be voiced by one of the top talents in the business. The last thing you want is for him to rush through the copy, trying to squeeze in too much information.”
(Looking at notes, pointing to a non-essential item) “I think this is the part we should omit. Agreed?”
3. “Mary, we really don’t need to talk about how friendly your staff is. Instead, let’s focus all of our attention on the fact that if you buy shoes anywhere else, you’re spending more than you should. Make sense?”
After you’ve done your best to limit the key points that must be mentioned in the spot, you hand the client a copy of the Conditions of Satisfaction:
“Mary, I want you to hold onto this. You’ll want to refer to it when I bring you your recorded commercials. Especially because this is the first time you’ve advertised with us, I know you’ll be excited to hear the new campaign. But I’ll need you to listen carefully to make sure everything we’ve listed here is included in the finished commercials. So please put this somewhere safe.”
When you return with the finished spots, don’t even bother to ask Mary if she still has her copy of the Conditions of Satisfaction.
Instead, hand her your own duplicate copy:
“I’ve hardly been able to wait to play these for you. I’m really pleased with the way they turned out. Here’s a copy of that list we made of key points that absolutely had to be included. Please do me a favor and check them off when you hear them….”
Now you have reframed the question from “Do you like these commercials?” to “Did we cover everything we were supposed to?”