Demystifying the Digital C.N.A.Megan Malone
When it comes to selling new tools with digital advertising, I often see traditional radio, television, and newspaper sellers feel a little overwhelmed during the initial Client Needs Analysis (C.N.A.) meeting. There’s several reasons for this analysis paralysis, a big one being a seller feeling the need to talk about all these new shiny objects in their arsenal, which inadvertently turns the meeting focus on themselves instead of needs of the client. Or they’re just not comfortable with the new tools to feel good about making a recommendation, so the end result for some type A-sellers is to just talk about themselves and dominate the conversation. Or even worse, there’s just a digital budget a seller needs to hit and instead of being consultative he or she just pushes packages down a client’s throat with a set impression, audience, and cost, regardless of the end client’s actual needs. Yikes.
The fact of the matter is, the C.N.A. should be more about the client’s goals then the tools of the seller. More than half of the initial meeting should be spent learning about a client’s business. And really, that’s no different than the same questions you ask during a traditional broadcast or publishing C.N.A., right? There’s no need to differentiate a digital C.N.A. from a traditional C.N.A., because your goal is to understand your client’s business and make marketing recommendations based on their responses. Whenever I approach a meeting where I know digital will be a focus, I fall back on what has worked in traditional marketing with the end goal of learning as much as I can about the client. My go-to C.N.A. questions end up looking pretty familiar to those who have been in the media business.
The 5 Basic Questions I always cover during any C.N.A.:
- WHO is the target customer?
Learn everything you can about a target customer, their interests, and their unique demographic sub-segments. This will naturally lead you to clues about what marketing recommendations to offer. Broad audience? Broadcast. Hyper-niche audience? Mobile targeting or Household IP targeting. Young audience? Social targeting. If your client is having trouble identifying who their target audience is, and they have access to their Google Analytics, you can also offer to check out what Google says about their current traffic’s demographics.
- WHAT is the client currently doing offline and online for advertising?
Its super presumptuous to make any marketing recommendation to a client without first knowing their entire marketing landscape. I also like to ask what they’ve tried and didn’t like. This offers a wealth of marketing research that will help guide your recommendations based on past successes and failures. Plus, if there are current marketing efforts being made by your client, it will put them at ease to know that your techniques will fit in seamlessly with what they’ve built so far.
- WHERE does the customer live or work?
This question will also give you many clues about what marketing recommendations to make. Some client’s need a broad approach by hitting an entire city, metro, or statewide customer base. Others will have a more needle in the haystack approach that needs niche marketing techniques. Regardless of the answer do not leave the meeting without understanding where a client’s customers are coming from.
- WHEN is the date of the next meeting?
Funny one, right? And yet I’ve sat through many digitally focused C.N.A.s and you can tell the seller is just glad to get out of the meeting alive, and forgets to set the date of the next meeting. If a client is unsure when you can meet again, set a follow up date to just touch base of the next steps to fulfill the assignments. Is the client reluctant to give you anything? Reprioritize your goal of completing the assignment to other clients giving you signals of forming a true marketing partnership. Keeping your over-optimistic blinders up will waste everyone’s time.
- HOW does the client allocate their marketing budgets?
If you ask a client “what is your budget” head on, you’ll often get back “why don’t you tell me” unless you have a great pre-established relationship where you can talk more candidly. I instead like to ask questions about their budget by understanding their marketing budget segments, for example if they have a separate digital budget from their traditional budget, or how often they do their planning or buying (monthly, quarterly, annually). If I have a strong indication of the marketing recommendations I am going to make from the C.N.A. questions above, I’ll even start talking about potential costs so we can work together to find their comfort level. I’m a big fan of the “no surprise proposal” where both parties feel good about the techniques, the creative strategy, and budget, without the big “TADAH HERE’S THE PRICE” at the very end of the next presentation. It puts both parties at ease.
The takeaway? There’s really no difference between a digital C.N.A. and a traditional C.N.A. It should be all about the client, and not about the tools, no matter how new and shiny they are. When there is a focus on being a marketing consultant instead of a seller you’ll not only have happier clients, you’ll have more to add to your own bottom line. And it all starts with a good solid C.N.A.