I just dug through my 190 posts (!), and I can’t believe I haven’t written about this observation yet. I can remember talking to a couple of reps at my last job and a few weeks ago I spoke to a few account coordinators about it. And, in my first job, I was known as the Head Planner and my colleague was known as the Heart Planner (we were the only ones that called ourselves these).
As a planner, as a sales person, and now back as a planner/director, I’ve come across many people who buy/want media because of their heart. They just feel that it will work, sometimes based on heuristics, sometimes based on their commute to work, or what magazine their wife reads that he sees on his coffee table (true story). And then, in the middle of the campaign or at the end, they grasp to find great results and often turn on the person who sold it to them to get them to show some logical explanation for what’s happening.
Luckily, the Heart Planner was awesome at her job, and really did have logical heuristics on her side since she had been in the business for so long. But she did have trouble with finding some of those justifications to help sell her ideas because that wasn’t how she was wired. Me, on the other hand, I wouldn’t recommend anything unless there was research or multiple case studies backing it up.
I think it has to do with the way we grew up in the media world. She’s a little older and crafted her skills before the Internet was where data could be gathered. So she has the experience but she didn’t need to always find those kinds of justifications growing up in her career. For me, I was a newbie and the only way the account team would trust my decisions was if I backed everything up. So I got in the habit.
For sales people or account service people, it’s important to know if your client is a Heart or Head client. A heart client will want the really neat advertising, even if you advise against it, and then still come back at you for explanation why it didn’t get the results they thought it would. This is why it is important to put yourself in the Head mindset at all times (even if it goes against your nature) and back up your recommendations. And, if there’s nothing to back up your idea, at least set the expectations that it is a new idea and unproven. Say it on the phone, put it in writing, make your client sign the estimate that mentions it. This way, when the client isn’t seeing the conversions or sales and wants you to explain, you can refer back to all of the times you said that this was a “test.”
Now, of course, if they didn’t sell it to their boss that way, you’re still a little screwed, but it appears that in my experience that this is just life. So, Cover Your Ass, give your clients all of the ammo up front – the research and the expectations of results and make sure it’s so embedded in their psyche that they feel it in their heart!