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Will You Ask for The Annual?

One of the greatest lessons of 2020 has been the importance of relationships. The level at which we interact with our prospects and clients on a relationship basis will often determine our success and theirs. For reasons I can’t identify, years ago in this business we adopted the monthly, 13-week and 26-week schedule. If you’ve studied human behavior and advertising, you know that it’s difficult to change human behavior. It ultimately is the purpose of advertising – to get people to think first and do business with your client instead of the competitor.

One rule I adopted early in my career served me well: ALWAYS ASK FOR AN ANNUAL. It seemed like a simple rule to me, and I was surprised at how many schedule presentations went out from my colleagues that were not annuals. The logic behind annuals is that we are focused on “building communities of customers” for the long-term rather than just taking the short sale. Are there times when you must take what you’re given? Of course. But too often, sellers fall into the trap of taking the path of least resistance.

Here are the top nine reasons to ALWAYS ask for the annual: You’ll never get an annual that you don’t ask for. I’ve never presented a client a 13-week contract and had them respond, “Can’t I do this for the year?”

Advertising works with a combination of: reach, frequency, consistency and compelling creative. These are the four keys to unlocking the true potential of advertising. Consistency should be measured in years, not weeks. It’s even more critical for smaller advertisers. A large advertiser can come into a market and buy heavy vertical frequency for a short period of time. Because of the massive budget, they can dominate. Smaller advertisers have to go with smaller schedules, which require longer-term consistency to get results. I don’t care if they have a $100-a-week budget, if they do that for 52 weeks they can get results.

Advertising works on a “cumulative effect.” Dr. Hermann Ebbinghaus, a German psychologist in the 1800s, developed the “Curve of Forgetfulness.” In short, we forget most of what we are exposed to within a few days, unless we have repeated and consistent exposure.

Requiring annuals of your sellers encourages them to do better presentations. When the stakes are higher, you put in more thought and effort. A two-week promotion off the rack needs very little prep time. But if you’re going to ask your client to invest for a year, you better have a compelling strategy and reasons why.

Asking for annuals shows YOUR belief in your product. If your client wants to be in business a year, or five years from now, they should have a marketing plan in place for the same period. Most don’t, but we are the experts. We need to help them understand how advertising works.

Annuals reduce stress and increase growth opportunities. If you can go into a month at 80% to goal because you have a lot of annual business, think of the time you have to develop new business or dig deeper with current clients.

Annuals work. Simply put, the attrition rate of annual contract buyers is significantly less than short-term buyers, because annuals get results. Annuals elevate the conversation to “business advantage/consulting.” When you have a client on an annual, you meet with them to discuss strategy, results and new business challenges. When you have a short-term buyer, you’re busy “re-selling” them all the time and never get to the deeper levels of strategy.

As we head into 2021, take the lessons of 2020 about the importance of relationships and challenge yourself to always ask for the annual. Of course, you won’t get them all, but just by asking, you’ll make difference for yourself and your clients. If you’re taking that challenge, please email me. I’ll help in any way I can, and I’d love to celebrate your success with you.

Jeff Schmidt is SVP-Professional Development at the Radio Advertising Bureau. You can reach Jeff at Jeff.Schmidt@rab.com or follow him on social media: Twitter, LinkedIn.

Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB