Radio Sales Today

RAB Sales Tips

The customer is NOT always right

Has this ever happened to you?

"I have a one-month-old jumpy client who is spending $450 a month with no results. He doesn't understand the word patience. He asks: "Do you have some stats or hard facts regarding other small business radio ads and connection to increased business over the first 3, 6, 12, 24 months of advertising?"

That was how the conversation with Bill began. Then he asked: "Do you have one killer piece I could send him?" Of course, at RAB, we have thousands of killer pieces of research about the power of advertising, the strength of all forms of advertising, as well as the power of radio. I sensed, however, that it wasn't research that Bill needed for the client.

Digging deeper, I asked to hear some commercial examples. It was quite clear to me why the client wasn't getting any results. In a word, the commercials were terrible! Because I have known Bill for years, I can get away with that kind of brutal honesty. I told him that he is a much better copywriter and storyteller than those ads led me to believe. He agreed and said, "I know. I had a great branding campaign written for him, but he wanted to add more to the commercial, and by the time we were finished it was his commercial, not mine. Based on experience, you know, the customer's always right."

We could probably write a book just about this exchange because there were so many things this client was doing wrong. And sadly, my friend was allowing the client to do it.

First and foremost, I don't care what market you're in, $450 a month is not enough budget to get an immediate response to a campaign. Secondly, the client was in control of the creative, so no wonder it wasn't working.

I've seen Bill in the past "fire" a client who wouldn't do it his way. I reminded him of that and told him he was the expert. His experience and knowledge were better than any client when it comes to advertising and marketing. Clients must trust us to be the experts in marketing as we trust them to be the experts in whatever business they run.

Yes, I know... every class about business and most books all say "the customer is always right." It's not difficult to understand the sentiment since our job is to serve our customers. At the same time, they don't always see things the way we do, but they are the customer. So, the customer is not always right, but they are always the customer — until they're not.

My advice to Bill was to stand his ground and use his years of experience to help the client. If the client wasn't willing to accept it, then fire them.

Three days later, I got another call from Bill: "I fired the client today, and it felt great — so great that I went out and sold out our current promotion to three other clients. Thanks for reminding me of my role and my value."

Do you have a client who is dragging you down, mentally and emotionally? You might consider passing them on to another rep or simply firing them. As you can see from Bill's example, standing up for himself, while it cost him one client, gained him three others who are willing to accept his advice and expertise.

In my experience, there is an inverse relationship between the amount of money a client spends with you and the amount of pain or anguish they cause. Advertisers who spend very little quickly can become a big pain in the... The bigger they are, the easier they are to work with. Lesson: Think BIG and make BIG things happen. I couldn't resist!

Do you have some smaller, demanding clients that you need to fire? Freeing your mind and standing up for yourself will give you the confidence to more than make up for the lost business.

Jeff Schmidt is the SVP of Professional Development. You can reach him at You can also connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Source: Jeff Schmidt, SVP of Professional Development, RAB