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Friday Poll: Outrageous Ways to Get a Prospect's Attention

    • 1054 posts
    February 28, 2019 11:16 PM PST

    We've all had them. Difficult, frustrating, infuriating prospects, who won't give us the time of day.

    They should be advertising with us. We know we could help them. But they're not even giving us a chance.

    They don't believe radio works. They're convinced that social media or online advertising is where they should be investing their ad dollars. Or, as is happening with many car dealers today, their manufacturers are forcing them to spend their advertising/coop funds on targeted digital campaigns instead of on mass media.

    Whatever the case, they continue to resist our best efforts and opt to spend their advertising dollars elsewhere. 

    How do we get their attention? How do we get them to give us a meaningful hearing?

    Forty years ago, I had a prospect like this. A car dealer, convinced that the TV station 30 miles away was all he needed. Local radio? Small potatoes, who cares? He'd never take a phone call, never schedule a meeting, was always busy if we resorted to trying to find him in his office. No interest at all. I asked Jim Williams, who was on retainer as a sales trainer for the stations, giving us access to him by phone whenever we were stuck. (Today, of course, we'd just share the problem here at RSC and ask our members for advice.)

    Jim came up with an audacious idea. Have every station employee go into the production room and record the guy's name. Nothing more, nothing less, just his name: "Bill H-----------." And then play that recording on the air 6-8 times an hour, around the clock. And so we did: salespeople, secretaries, copywriters and production people, the bookkeeper, our managers, program director, DJ's, women's director, each one spoke his name in a different tone of voice. Some read it gruffly. Others with a smile. Some turned it into a question. Others spoke it seductively. Each read conveyed a different nuance.

    Our music FM was run by automation, the Gates System 90--state of the art in the late 70's-- consisted of a half-dozen carousels filled with carts containing all the commercials, several large reel-to-reel machines serving up the music, and two ginormous tape cartridges providing time checks 8-10 times an hour ("It's 4:52." It's ten after five.") The usual segue coming out of a commercial break was a time check, followed by a quick station jingle ID, then back into music. We added a new element, our car dealer's name, between the time check and the jingle.  Every stinkin' time.  

    It took 3 days for the dealer to call us. Rather, he had one of his receptionists call us: "Mr. ________ wants to know why you're saying his name on your station." 

    I moved to Washington State soon afterwards and never did get to follow up with him personally.

    But eventually, the station did get a meeting and the dealer couldn't deny that people, seemingly lots of them (at least in his circle of friends) were listening to our station. I don't know if he ever became a committed radio advertiser, but this outrageous outreach certainly got his attention and bolstered our own enthusiasm, as well.

    So, there's my story. What's yours?

    What's the most outrageous thing you've done to get a prospect to give you a hearing?

    Please share your answer below. 


    • 1273 posts
    March 1, 2019 11:25 AM PST

    From Jeffrey Hedquist: Rod - I love it. Reminds me of one I did well over 40 years ago. An ad agency we worked with had Field & Stream Magazine as a client. There was one media buyer in New York City who wouldn't give the F&S rep the time of day. We produced one radio spot which ran in NYC for about a week, extolling the virtues of advertising in F&S. The entire commercial was kind of an "open letter" to this media buyer, mentioning him by name. He was inundated with calls from his peers. Result: F&S got to see him and they got a buy.

    • 1054 posts
    March 2, 2019 2:53 PM PST

    @Jeffrey Hedquist - classic Tony Schwartz-style guerilla campaign, Jeffrey. B r i l l i a n t !!

    This post was edited by Rod Schwartz at March 2, 2019 2:54 PM PST