Editor's note: We invited prominent marketing communication agency media folks to share their thoughts on what they like, and what they don't, from their agricultural media suppliers.
Laura Henke, Charleston|Orwig Hartland, WI
Knowledge and information — two cornerstone words in media and a central part of a media director's vocabulary.
We like to see that our media representatives are knowledgeable. Knowledgeable about the industry, about the product and about the client.
Technology and the foresight to provide new tools for companies to use to reach the audience are also of immense interest to media directors. How does the media provider look into new technologies such as Web feed formats like RSS, blogs, etc. What can media groups provide in terms of interesting opportunities to reach their audience?
In terms of media-to-client contact, the agency should be the first to know. By serving as a screening level, the agency can identify whether or not a media outlet's audience coincides with a client's marketing plans. Budgets play a large role in the reasoning behind this. Budgets nowadays don't allow for new tactics to be added once the plans are in place.
Information about the media source's ability to effectively reach a target audience is another aspect of importance. Accountability and quantitative results are still necessary, but often hard to obtain. We need more options for this type of results-driven reporting. Receiving this information has been an age-old problem without many good solutions, particularly in broadcast media. We need to know if it's reaching our target audience.
Exemplifying the need to know more information about a specific audience are the so-called "rural lifestyle people." We've seen the research about how the rural lifestyle sections in the country are increasing, but what can be done to reach these people and qualify them? It's being done in publications, but what about radio and the Internet?
Another suggestion I would like to offer is for media providers to include as much media kit information as possible on their Web site. Many times the search for these details is difficult and futile, especially after hours, when representatives aren't available, or when deadlines are looming and time is tight.
Given the constantly changing landscape of the ag industry, media providers have a difficult job staying ahead of the change — and it hasn't gone unnoticed. We certainly appreciate the efforts made by media groups so far and look forward to working together to achieve the best results for all.
Susan Kincaid, All Media, Inc., Kansas City, MO
Technology has changed the world of advertising since I created my very first media plan. "Copper plates" are now PDFs, shipping addresses are now FTP sites and fax machines are fast becoming obsolete.
But the basics of selling advertising has changed very little. The best "ag media providers" (synonym: advertising sales reps) understand my clients and work with me to achieve successful results to their marketing plans. It's that simple.
If I was training new advertising sales reps I would tell them:
Do your homework. Learn what's happening in the marketplace and how it relates to my clients.
Help me do my homework. Provide whatever research is available for your medium that will convince me to recommend what you are selling: circulation information, listenership research, online metrics, etc.
Be polite, aggressive and consistent — but don't harass me. If I don't call you back, I either don't have an answer for you yet, or I have a deadline and don't have time to chat.
Respond as quickly as possible, my closing dates are sometimes as unreasonable as yours are. The urgency of communications is one of the reasons we love this job.
Please tell me everything you tell my client and preferably before you tell my client. Advertisers hire agencies (and/or me) to do what we do. I can actually help you sell an idea if you sell it to me first.
Accept the fact that you will not always make the cut. As advertisers, we have a multitude of options and we very seldom have the budgets to buy everything. We recommend what we evaluate and believe is the right mix to meet the campaign objectives.
Listen to what I'm asking for and offer suggestions on how to extend the value of what you are selling — but don't ask for confidential information. We can't tell you what all of our marketing goals are. We have confidentiality agreements with our clients. (I've always wondered why we don't have media reps sign confidentiality agreements.)
Always confirm rates and dates in writing and read insertion/broadcast orders. A minor typo can result in hours of non-billable time.
Publishers: Make sure the clients and the agency are on your comp list and receive the issues with their ads. There are reps that even send a publication with the ad pages tabbed with a thank-you note. If you have editorial that relates to my client, let me know about it. Added value is important!
Radio/network representatives: If your farm broadcaster does an interview about my clients' products, send me an MP3 of the interview. Added value is important!
Internet Representatives: If your Web site has a news item or a discussion item relative to my clients' products, send me an e-mail. Added value is important!
Above all, remember, added value is important!
Vicki Henrickson, Davenport, IA
The relationship between a media planner and a media provider or should be more than just that between a buyer and a seller. The most successful collaborations occur when three basic elements are present in the relationship: communications, trust, and respect.
Communications requires interaction. Keep planners smart by providing them with the latest and up-to-date information in a format that is most useful to them. Electronic data saves tons of manual filing space.
Media planners need to know their products, target markets, audience demographics, and media objectives and be able and willing to share as much as possible with the sales rep. The sales rep needs to listen and determine which elements in his portfolio of media products could help successfully achieve the planner's goals.
Not every media request requires the whole arsenal. The best option may not just be the cheapest. Sometimes it may even be the same thing that was done last year.
Spend more time talking and less time selling. Good solutions come from good, frank discussions.
Trust allows the planner feel secure that a proposal brought to the table is honestly presented and fairly priced. Leave out the spin doctoring and fuzzy math. Sell on your strengths; don't run a negative campaign.
When mutual trust occurs, sales reps feel confident that their proposals are being evaluated objectively. Planners know that proposals always come to them before, not after the client. The more the planner and sales rep become partners, not adversaries, the more successful both will be.
Understand deadlines — sometimes things DO come up at the last minute and eventually, extensions do run out.
Time is a valuable commodity these days. Know the fine line between being persistent and being a pest. Accept graciously the fact that sometimes you won't win and you will likely NEVER get a buy as large as you'd like.
It's part science; it's part art. But it's mostly about relationships based on communications, trust and respect. That's the selling proposition.
Karen Brokaw, Ayres Kahler, Lincoln, NE
It is pretty simple: information, research and interaction all at an efficient cost.
Start with providing us the basic information about your medium. Don't try to anticipate who we want to reach.
Tell us about who your medium serves. For example: a detailed composition of your audience outlining the type of farms, their yields, etc. How do you define your target audience? What is the mission or purpose of your publication or broadcast station?
We need the basics like circulation, or coverage, but we also need to know the psychographics of your reader or listener. Helping us understand who you serve and what you offer your target audience will assist us in determining how well you serve our client's target audience. How is your advertising vehicle different? Please do not talk about your competition, let us make the comparisons.
Provide us with research that backs this information up. Don't just tell us, prove it to us. Media planners love research. We live and breathe it. We need current research to guide us to our target audiences. We utilize research to support our recommendations. A good media planner will be able to combine what he/she learns from several different resources and present a unified strategy based on primary and secondary research.
Technology is changing everyday. We need to keep up with the changing media landscape. Help us keep up to speed on the changes your publication, broadcast station, or new medium is making.
The changes in technology are allowing marketers to fine tune their marketing efforts to pinpoint their target audience. Many of these changes create opportunities for our clients to interact with your readers and listeners. This interaction or engagement with farmers, producers and ranchers is becoming more important every day.
As your medium makes changes to fine-tune their services and their delivery, make sure you keep us informed. Help us understand how these changes will enhance the experience for the consumer and how they will deliver results for our clients.
Media planners and buyers are investing client's money. We take this role very seriously. Think about it, if you are entrusted with a client's budget, don't you want to make sure that every penny is well spent? That is what we do, every day.
Don't be offended when we try to get more for less. If we don't try, we are not doing our job. When you or your media company makes a mistake, we have to be able to explain why the mistake happened, and how the publication or station will try to avoid the same mistake again.
Working together we can find ways to get the results our clients need.