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Amazing, Picture Painting, and Brain Stimulating

Why aren’t we letting our medium speak for itself?

Don't we understand that we are sitting on a license to print money?

Instead of talking about meaningless stuff like spots, dots, and demographics; tower heights, broadcast power, market footprints, cumes, and effective ad frequency, don't you think an effective spec-commercial is the most powerful tool you could employ when in front of a prospective advertiser?

A great spec-commercial will soften even the hardest heart.

We talk about spec-commercials a lot in radio, yet we hardly ever use them. We speak often of the theater-of-the-mind yet we hardly ever set the stage.

Why not let the medium speak for itself?

A good spec-commercial will say so much more about the power of radio, and literally achieve that 'theater-of-the-mind' we try clumsily to articulate, faster than any of us ever could sitting in front of our prospect with a neatly stapled proposal.

In extremely basic terms a spec-commercial is a commercial produced for a client on speculation. It is intended to motivate the prospect to act - to buy. There are no guarantees that a spec-commercial will make the sale, but the very fact that you and your station took the time to produce a tailor-made commercial for an advertiser is usually perceived as a good thing.

The commercial will be seen as your pre-commitment to the prospect. People know time is money, and that writing and mixing a commercial certainly isn't done without expense - so it is a good strategy to engage. But that's the obvious part. What about the fact that a spec-commercial immediately demonstrates to the prospect the power of radio to deliver a message? No matter how jaded a businessperson may be, to hear his or her business's story told through the magic of well-produced sound is a satisfying experience. It's emotional. It sells.

A spec-commercial though, should never be the total sum of your presentation but rather an element of your total plan. In other words, design an advertising campaign you know will do the job for the client, and then use the commercial to bring it to life - explode a vision inside your prospects head.

There are lots of occasions when a spec-commercial can be an invaluable asset but perhaps the most common application of a spec-commercial is on the second call (after the initial visit). During the initial encounter, you should gather information on your prospect and use it to prepare both the ad-plan and the spec-commercial.

Find out what advertising was used in the past. Find out what the prospect has done in the past, what worked, and what did not. Which approach or concept did the prospect particularly like (if any), and why? Don't repeat the mistakes of the past. Spending valuable time, energy, and resources on a spec-commercial that contains an idea already used by the prospect is generally a waste of time.

What image does the client want or have? Preparing a spec-commercial that fails to embrace a business’s long established image can be both bad and good. In the first instance, if the prospect is married to the image of his business, presenting a spec-commercial that does not concur with that image can create considerable resistance. On the other hand, a strong spec-commercial may motivate a client to revamp his or her businesses image, which may be the best possible thing.

Who is the prospect? What are they like? Always attempt to evaluate the prospect's psyche. Get to know their personality. This will give you an idea of what direction to go creatively and how far you can take any concept.

What ideas does the prospect have? Push for their creative thoughts. See if the prospect has an idea and is excited about it. How can anyone say no to his or her own idea? Working with a prospect's idea is an almost certain way to generate buying enthusiasm.

The point is, use the medium you have at hand - amazing, picture painting, brain stimulating, and theater-of-the-mind radio.

Sell without regret

Michael Tate

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