How To Sell Advertising Agencies And Media Buyers On Your Publication

You have undoubtedly heard the old saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.” This is especially true with a corporate or advertising agency media buyer.  When you are not persistent enough or allow yourself to be intimidated . . . you fall into the common comfortable rut syndrome: ease off or take a passive approach toward the media buyer prospect. The usual comment is, “Well, I gave it a good try, but he (or she) just doesn’t understand the importance of our publication ” . . . or . . . “They are completely oblivious to our existence . . . sometimes I wonder about our image.

Anyone who has called on advertising agencies will quickly recognize the fact that many media buyers are people in their early to mid-twenties, who went to college and studied advertising, marketing and public relations . . . but never understood the importance of a weekly publication or small daily publication.  They were indoctrinated to think that mass print media, radio, television, billboards, yellow pages, etc., were the target mediums to consider.  Because of this situation, it is obvious that a persistent effort is required to reach the subconscious mind of the media buyer and persuade them to strongly consider your publication.
Scenarios For Customers Who Have Ad Agencies

Your prospective customer has notified you that he or she has an advertising agency and you should contact them for further discussion regarding an advertising program with your publication.  Let’s examine several points regarding this directive:

Is their agency a full service agency who understands print media ? or are they a strong radio/TV shop that would probably just as soon have you handle the print end?

How much control does the agency have over their client?  Does the prospect quickly refer you to the agency . . . or . . . is there prolonged discussions, with the end result of a phone call to the agency (by the prospect) requesting immediate attention to your proposal?  If your prospect wants your  publication and pushes the agency to give you an audience, the agency is going to accommodate their client and talk to you.

Another scenario is this:   The prospect wants to run with you and you are sent to their agency.  The agency turns you down cold and then consistently refuses to proceed with any meaningful dialogue, telling you that there is absolutely no budget for your proposal.  There are several points to consider.

The agency has an ironclad hold on the budget, and has complete control of their client, and the client accedes to the agency.  Please understand that the agency can change the budget and many times will change the budget if you can sell them.

Do you understand your prospect’s marketing problems?  Remember the agencies aren’t retained to just spend their client’s ad dollars . . . their job is to solve their marketing problems.  So if you can show how your publication can be a good problem solver, that will help to enhance your positioning with the agency.

Many times, the agency can’t see why your publication is right for their clients . . . they don’t understand the demographic importance of your readers.

What does the agency think of your publication?  Don’t be intimidated by the abruptness of the media buyer who wants to usher you out of their office.  There must be a strong transference of feeling that you believe in your publication and an equally strong assertiveness to show why they should consider your publication.

If the prospect continues to show interest and the agency continues to rebuff you, it might be a good idea to get everyone together for lunch and discuss your proposal.  Many times, the prospect will push this meeting or you may convince the agency to set up a meeting.  This can be a sticky issue and there is a thin line to walk.  It’s entirely possible that you will not be able to talk to the prospect at length once you have been exposed to the agency.  The agency may have resent further efforts on your part to see their client.

What’s The Answer?

You must be persistent with the agency . . . show why you should be in their marketing plans.  Send them issues of your paper, send them flyers about special promotions, take ideas to them, be creative, ask them to go to lunch, make concrete proposals, above all, be nice – be friendly – be courteous.

You will be amazed at the results of persistent effort, even if it takes six months or one year.  In discussion with hundreds of advertising agencies and corporate media buyers, it is clear that most print advertising salespeople give up too quickly.  Recently a media buyer, at one of our merchant seminars, commented, “We might give them (the media) a rough time, but we might buy if they kept their name in front of us and called on us regularly.”  Another buyer said, “They don’t call ahead, they just walk in when I’m not prepared or I’m with someone who did have an appointment.”

Finally, think about the image you are projecting.  What does your business card look like?  How about your media kit?  Is it organized with audit information and testimonials from satisfied customers?  What do you look like?  Are you well-groomed and conservatively dressed?  I don’t care where you live, you must project a professional appearance . . . you must be honest, trustworthy and believable.  There are many reasons why salespeople fail to sell an advertising agency, but persistence will overcome most of them.