Friday, 19 February 2010

Understand your audience

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I've just been given a presentation from an online property that got me thinking about both the product and the way in which it was presented.

My initial thoughts were what is this product? Why should I care, and if I do, how will I sell it into my clients? This was not answered until about 20mins in, by which time I was quite confused and lacking interest.

I've never been a sales person (in the traditional sense) however I have met a huge amount in my career so far and spend a lot of time selling in ideas to clients, everything from the mundane (which adserver they should use) to the extravagant (sponsoring the dance tent at Glastonbury) and in every case you need to lay out the nub of your idea in the opening 2 minutes.

Many people argue that it's important to set the scene, put things in context, recap on the brief, but I disagree. We both know the context and I believe this can be incorporated into your idea and answer the main point in the brief. And please don’t recap the brief, I know what it is, I wrote the bloody thing!
Also don't give everything up straight away though, as the art of good story telling allows for your audience to fill some of the gaps. However be clear, succinct and knowledgeable. Don't ever talk about something you can't substantiate, it makes you look foolish and lazy. Obviously you can't legislate for curve ball questions from your audience but if they are handled correctly and answered at the first opportunity after the meeting then you still maintain control.

Having control is another important point to make. Many sales individuals are considered good because they can close the deal quickly and efficiently, however if you're trying to sell in the benefits of a back office social media network, I think you're in a far better position getting a dialogue started amongst your audience. Explain the benefits, show some relevant case studies and then suggest some ideas that you've had for the brand in question. Unless you are exceptionally well informed your audience (planners in this case) will know far more about the product/brand and will start thinking about forthcoming events/promotions that might be relevant, that maybe you’re unaware of.

I think due to the diversity of digital media, there is a far longer gestation period both with the planners and clients, as what you're getting is not always cut and dry. This isn’t to say that response to briefs should try and cover everything off if they can't, as this will result in everything being vague and often vapid.

The bottom line is, understand what our clients do, and where they are headed and want to achieve, understand what it is you do, have the courage to tell me that your product isn't a good fit or conversely that it really is, believe in it and don't, whatever you do, start your presentation with a load of stats about how many unique users and page impressions you have, this is of little importance at this stage as I know the site wouldn't be commercial if it wasn't hitting at least 200k a month and it’s a sure fire way to kill the attention before I’ve even had a chance to have my first sip of coffee.

It’s a tough market for a lot of people currently and many proposals are insightful, purposeful, clear and get me excited and interested in the product and how my brands can fit in, so no disrespect to those, but for the ones who let me down, I'm afraid the plan will go on without you.

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