There’s a Spec of Contribution in Your Future

by Albert Berkshire

I’m a firm believer that the top performers in a radio station are also the top producers. I see this time and time again with salespeople who bring in the big contracts. And the best ones really do work hard. They bring clients to the table, ideas to the creative team and contracts to the GM’s office. They are the “top” because they accept and expect only the best from their team. And they offer only the best to their clients.

When these top reps come to us for a SPEC, they’re serious. They really feel the need to have that extra “closer” when they meet with a perspective client. And in my experience, the top reps rarely ask for specs. They usually don’t need them. They know the product they’re selling and sell radio on the merits of radio – not the client’s “name in lights.”

So it makes sense that they want only the top people working on their accounts. The proposals are solid, well laid out marketing plans. They look good, they’re detailed, they include research. And the CD they put into their portable CD player is labeled and slick in presentation. And the sound – it is nothing less than second rate.

It’s got to be the worst feeling for an accomplished rep. To blow the client out of the water with a presentation, only to have it flop on the ground like a drowning fish on a dock. The spec just didn’t cut it.

Why? This is going to be painful… but the top producer in the station doesn’t do specs. He doesn’t have to do specs. He cut his teeth on them for years, and now he’s top banana! No specs for the top guy. Oh no, he’s only working on imaging and the stuff that’s sold.

Meanwhile, budding Prod Guy Number Two is working away in the second rate studio churning out specs left right and center completely oblivious to the fact that he’s not helping one bit. Sure, he’s getting them done…but to what end?

I know you’ve heard the expression, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” Your GM or GSM wouldn’t send a rookie sales rep to see a big prospective client that you’ve been trying to land for years. So why are you relying on the evening guy – the on air guy – the second string quarterback to provide the finishing touches on your presentation? The presentation you only get to pitch once. It’s like asking John Goodman to anchor your relay team. He just doesn’t have the icing to top the presentation cake.

Face it – please. As the top producer in your building…you are needed. You wouldn’t be in that top spot if you sucked. So suck it up. Your team needs you.

Here are some ways to retain your standing in the creative community and still do specs:

  • Set deadlines and stick to them. If your sales reps really want your touch on a project, they’re willing to wait.
  • Be a part of the pitch from the inception. Make time for the meeting with the sales rep to discuss how you’re going to develop the creative campaign. Work on concepts that can be accomplished within the agreed upon timeframe.
  • Express the importance of everything else you have to do – but you will make time for the specs.
  • Ask the rep to move the meeting if there is an emergency that prevents you from meeting the deadline.
  • Publicly express the importance of specs. Let the reps (veterans to rookies) know you are there to help in the projects you really think need your attention. And include the junior producers and writers in the brainstorms. They really may have valuable contributions that could help the project. They may even have what’s needed to take the project off your plate.

Don’t turn your back on specs. They are just as important as what’s going on the air tomorrow. After all, if you get it right the first time, they may be going on the air the day after tomorrow.