Understanding the customer is key to building the right ads

Even in today’s amazing technology, there remains a classic, time worn problem. How are the advertising materials organized and communicated between the client, the salesperson, and the graphic artist? More specifically, how are presentation layouts presented back to the client? The answer: usually not well organized. But to solve the problem, let’s take a few steps back.

The role of the salesperson
The salesperson has to become a trusted advisor to the client and have the ability to get the client involved in the planning and content of the ads.  They must be able to demonstrate that they are a marketing pro who knows good layout design, can write good copy, knows type faces, and can sell long range campaigns. It is obvious that this type of salesperson should have these skills when hired  by the sales manager and then trained to be extremely good at them so as to be in control with the customer. The optimal word is control.. The salesperson has to take control and work with the client like an advertising agency approach. One of the major problems in newspaper advertising is that the customer thinks they know more than the salesperson who is calling on them. The salesperson has to establish themselves as an expert and trusted advisor. Even a new salesperson can be perceived as someone who the customer can trust and be guided toward a meaningful advertising program.

Rough layout organization
The  content has to be organized so that the client can see and approve  the format. This format includes the selection of headlines, art work, suggested copy, and overall ad design. The idea is to also find the customer’s personalized beliefs and goals (CPBG) and work them into the ad ideas. This can be done by showing a head shot of the customer to personalize their ads, featuring employees in the ads, and special goal/belief statements pledging quality, dependability, and dedication to excellent customer service.

The next critical action
The final step is for the salesperson to explain that they want to tell the story of the client’s business with an ongoing campaign but that research needs to be done to know why their customers shop with them and the benefits they are receiving. This information can build an ad campaign with the different reasons becoming the headings of the ads.The CPBG points can be distributed into feature copy boxes. An objection may arise that the customer wants to run special promotions as the ad headings from time to time. That’s OK as long as the campaign reverts back to the “story” of the original strategy. The next step is to tell the customer that they will be brought a campaign kick off ad layout (don’t call it a spec layout) or 2-3 sample ads depicting the start of a campaign. It is important that the customer fully agrees to this and gives permission to do so. Objections might arise which could delay the creative process but that’s OK because it’s better to know before the work is done than after the time and expense of doing the layouts.

The role of the layout artist.
Keep in mind that the salesperson knows what image is to be projected, what goals are to be targeted, and how the campaign is to flow. Any rough layouts done with the customer are given to the layout artist, incorporating the customer’s personalized beliefs and goals (CPBG). The artist proceeds to develop a kick off ad for the campaign or a series of ads to give a feeling of the campaign flow. It is important that the salesperson and the artist carefully go over the layouts before taking them to the customer, making sure that the proper image is projected.

The layout presentation
The presentation layouts are ready and mounted to give a more professional look. It is important that the layouts are shown to the customer before any marketing plan. This procedure ties in with the adage “ sell with emotion and justify with facts”. It’s very important that the layouts tell the story of their business, designed for efficient readership, and to utilize the customer’s personalized beliefs and goals.

The happy ending
If all the groundwork has been laid by the salesperson, if the presentation layouts really sparkle, and if the customer has complete trust and belief in the publication as the key player in their media mix—they will buy the plan. As a final word of caution, you can’t rush the process of creativity. There might be more than one meeting to thoroughly understand the customer’s personalized beliefs and goals.