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The Enemy Within

Posted on July 31, 2003 and read 8,071 times

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It’s Monday morning. A client has just delivered a stinging load of venom into your sales rep’s ear. Apparently, his radio campaign was “a failure”. The sales rep, in turn, passes this news along to the creative department, the production people and anyone else within range. The questions are always the same: Who dropped the ball? What happened? In short, who gets the blame? And sooner or later, after the questions have been answered and the incident is all but forgotten, it happens again with another client.

Before doing anything, it’s important to determine the client’s definition of “failure”. During a live remote, for instance, the advertiser’s location may have been packed with listeners but they didn’t buy. Many clients would consider this a failure when, in reality, it’s a Radio success! You provided the traffic through the doors. If listeners aren’t converted into buyers, that failure rests solely with the client’s staff. However, if after some probing questions your client reports no increase – or even a decrease in activity during the campaign, you need to do some digging to track down the “enemy” lurking within the system.

In this situation we should all take some of the credit for this failure. It is a team effort after all. (I find blame is such a counter-productive exercise.) Several things could be at work here. It may simply be a case of the client having unrealistic expectations or too much script input. The creative brief might have been flawed. Maybe the client was led to believe the campaign would yield miraculous results. Usually the answer lies somewhere in the first two.

If the client just had unrealistic expectations, this is one for the sales rep to handle. Many reps are conservative when estimating the expected outcome and prefer to have a client pleasantly surprised than bitterly disappointed. Even so, some clients only hear what they want to hear. And there’s nothing anyone can do about that. If that’s not the case, you need to dig deeper.

First, go back to the creative brief and look at the directives. Analyze the information. Was the approach taken appropriate for the client? Look at everything on the page. If it’s mostly blank, you’ve found one problem already. Next, look at the first script and compare it with what was finally recorded. The very first script is often the most focused and with each client revision, the idea becomes more nebulous. If so, you’ve found another problem. Clients know their business but few can actually improve a script rather than just cram in more words. If you’re still confident the problem is elsewhere, listen to the commercial. Is the music too loud? Does the announcer slur or race through the script? Is there an annoying sound effect? By now you’ve probably uncovered all the problems and can take steps to avoid the same pitfalls in the future.

It’s up to you and your team to rid the system of this “enemy”. By doing some reverse engineering, you’ll be able to determine what went wrong so you can avoid this type of thing happening again. And Monday mornings may never be the same.


Wray Ellis is Director of Creative Services at the Radio Marketing Bureau.






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