I’m often asked how a media strategist navigates the multitudes of on- and off-line communications vehicles and comes up with a plan that might actually build a company’s awareness or drive sales or, hopefully, both.
It starts with establishing strategic parameters based on a client’s objectives. We have many research resources that help us define target audiences, analyze media usage habits and build plans within a budget. But, once we define overall strategies (e.g., spot radio to drive awareness and frequency of message or out-of-home for geographically specific targeting and continuity of message), how do we decide which suppliers and opportunities will best deliver reach to the right target and get them to take action?
I’ll drill deeper into individual media vehicle evaluation in subsequent posts, but you can get started with any supplier and establish the fact that nobody’s going to pull the wool over your eyes with these basic “must asks”:
Is it on strategy: How does this opportunity fit into my overall communications strategy? If you aren’t utilizing local print, then it doesn’t make sense to invest in a one-off ad in a random magazine — no matter how attractive the sales rep might be.
Reputation of supplier and sales representative: Have they been in business long? Working with suppliers that are in launch mode can offer great ground-floor opportunities, but I’ve also seen advertisers get burned by over-confident suppliers with poor business models that wind up going under quickly.
Audience: Who is being reached by this opportunity? Does a "user study" exist that speaks to demographics or psychographics? Can you imagine your target audience engaging with this vehicle during their day?
Quality of the environment: No matter how inexpensive an opportunity may appear, the environment you advertise in can adversely affect your brand — posters over urinals in bars? Maybe not, unless you’re selling condoms or Viagra. Ask about current advertisers here, too, and remember you are only as good as the company you keep…
Value/pricing: This also ties into audience. How is the audience being measured? Is there some third party (audit bureau, Nielsen, etc.) to verify the data? Who, exactly, are you reaching and how often? How did they arrive at their pricing structure? How are they priced versus competitors?
Case histories: What other clients have they worked with? Can they share any results? What type of results can you expect?
Negotiation: Everything in life may not be negotiable but buying media certainly is. Ask all the questions I have here, get direct answers and go in fighting! And, although getting a great deal is important, be wary of suppliers that are willing to go very low on pricing, as this desperation may mean their audience is falling off or the supplier may be shutting down.
Humanity: We all need to show some. Buying and selling media can be challenging and, sometimes, stressful. Return a phone call or e-mail and be honest and not afraid to say “no” if the opportunity is not a fit for your strategies. Most sales reps will respect you for being straight up and it allows them to focus on advertisers that might be more appropriate for their opportunities.
Mary Jo Sobotka | VP Integrated Media Strategy