The sales person looked across the desk at me. The look.. a little bit frightened and confused. I know that a trapped animal can be dangerous… I once worked in a facility that rescued abandoned animals and I’ce seen that look before… just before the claws come out. I try the explain that the brief she’s given me is just rubbish… that the person who took it… namely her… has not used an ounce of common sense. That a 5 year old child with no radio advertising experience could have done a better job. That she was using up valuable oxygen that a sentient lifeform other than her could have been putting to good use.
Of course I tried to put it more diplomatically
The problem was the brief. Since the advent of email it’s been all to easy to just take what a client has mailed and paste it into the brief sheet, without taking any time to process, thing about it, and more importantly… to discuss with the client about how radio works and fashion a brief that will actually help the client.
When I joined a radio station in the UK I was bombarded with piles of information… the previous writer had told the sales execs that they were not giving enough information. The problem wasn’t the quantity but the quality. Masses of information just confuse me. You give me 6 points in a brief, I will chose the one that I have a great idea for… but it may not be the most important point to the client (or more importantly, the potential customer). Then we get the backwards and forwards of “the client doesn’t like the script”.
When you hear a local radio ad and you’re wondering “what was that about?” you’re asking the same question the writer had when he wrote the commercial. If it’s not fixed BEFORE the briefing, you will never get good commercials
A good brief is short.
If it’s longer, it’s probably 2 or more ads.
If it’s got several Selling Propositions… you should be thinking several ads!
The problem, as I see it, is that Radio Stations worldwide don’t invest in training their sales staff in radio advertising. I am happy to say that most of the groups I have worked for in the past have…. But there is still too much emphasis on “double glazing” sales techniques, and closing… than there is on being advertising consultants for their clients. The GREAT sales people I have worked with have made huge commissions by helping their clients to achieve their goals… and by standing up to their clients when they made the kinds of descisions that can RUIN a client’s campaign. Here are some useful phrases to help you on your way….
“I can’t get you on air tomorrow… we need to make sure your ad is spot on… and that takes a bit of time!”
“Thanks for all the information you gave me… now I’d like to ask the questions we need to answer to create you a great radio campaign!”
“If you want to say that… let’s create another commercial… now… why is it important to our listeners?”