The surprising key to more new local direct sales? It might be an old radio advertising tactic.

Written by
Asrah Mohammed
Published on
November 7, 2022

It’s challenging to sway potential ad buyers to invest in your platform; especially when it comes to local SMBs. Their budgets are tight; their history with onscreen advertising is often minimal; and their standards for demonstrable and rapid ROI are as high as they’ve ever been.

In this extremely tight media environment, one surprising tool is emerging as a potent differentiator for account executives hoping to break into local direct sales: spec spots.

What is a spec spot?

A spec spot is a lightweight 15 to 30 second “sample commercial” that showcases what an ad with you could look like. In radio, spec spots have long been used as a sales asset. Until recently, however, it was too cost-prohibitive to bring them to to video-based media sales.

However, with advances in technology, it’s possible to make lightweight commercials at scale for all of your prospects - and it’s making a difference. Account executives who approach prospects with spec spots in hand are reporting higher response rates, win-backs, and accelerated sales cycles.

The power of sample creative

Why does showing a sample commercial work so well?

It grabs attention. A spec spot is tangible. It stands out from a sea of (likely identical) sales outreach emails and LinkedIn messages. By offering prospects something both creative and truly tailored to them, you spark interest and curiosity. It can also break the monotony of the standard sales approach and make your pitch more memorable.

It showcases proactivity and creative capability. A spec spot can demonstrate your media outlet's ability to produce high-quality, engaging, and effective ads that suit your clients' goals and brand. It can also show your prospects that you understand their target market, their message, and their tone of voice.

It builds trust. A sample commercial can prove your outlet's credibility and professionalism. It can also show your prospects that you have done your homework and that you are prepared to deliver on your promises.

It triggers emotions. Spec spots appeal to your prospects' emotions, such as humor, nostalgia, or excitement. Emotions are inherently part of decision-making; even in business.

It invites feedback. Spec spots invite opinions, which spark conversation and open the door for questions, comments, and suggestions. They can also help you gauge your prospects' reactions and adjust your pitch accordingly.

How to use spec spots

Of course, a spec spot alone is not enough to guarantee a sale. It needs to be aligned with your outlet’s standards, your clients' expectations, and your pitch objectives. Here are some tips to help you create and show a sample commercial that works:

Do your research. Before you create a sample commercial, you need to know your prospects' business, goals, challenges, budget, and preferences. This will help you craft a sample commercial that is relevant, realistic, and tailored to your prospects' specific needs and wants.

Keep it simple. A spec spot should be concise, clear, and focused. It should highlight the main benefits of your clients' product or service. It should also have a strong call to action that clearly guides an audience to the prospect’s desired action.

Make it professional. A spec spot should reflect well on your media outlet's quality and standards. It should have a well-constructed script, well-executed voice over (if applicable), a well-paired soundtrack, and solid visual design.

Ask for feedback. After you show a spec spot, you should ask your prospects for their feedback. You should listen to their opinions, concerns, and objections, and address them accordingly. You should also use their feedback to have a genuine exchange, while also reinforcing your value proposition, overcoming objections, and moving the sale forward.

Spec spots can be a powerful way to boost your media sales success. They can help you stand out, showcase your creativity, build trust, trigger emotions, and invite feedback. They also create a lasting impression and foster stronger relationships with your prospects. So, the next time you prepare a sales pitch, consider the potential for custom creative to wow your clients and win their business.


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