One of the tasks marketing communications professionals handle, and it’s one many of us dread, is buying media.
It used to be a simple equation; you are buying media, for example a print ad.
The process is:
- Determine the price break based on number of ads (find the best deal)
- Figure out which books hit which audiences (select the best shot at reaching your audience)
- Align your budget with the anticipated spend (you know how much you have to spend so make the adjustments)
- Sign off on the IO’s (make the purchase)
- Develop and deliver the art (the fun part)
- Move on to the next task.
In the last thirty years however, the equation has become increasingly more complicated. Now we need to consider a far more diverse array of media with competing benefits. Online opportunities tend to be less expensive and provide a better lead-generation mechanism. The downside is they are a temporary medium.
While a printed ad is still there months later, when your banner comes down off a web site, the presence is gone. The flip side is, how many times will that magazine be read, if it’s read and passed around the customer’s facility, that’s great but that doesn’t happen like it used to; it used to be post it notes were affixed and the mag was circulated, now it’s more likely a link will be forwarded.
A fact that breaks this old print-generating professional’s heart.
A media buying professional needs to consider all of the options, features, and benefits of each of the various options. Based on contemporary trends, business-to-business communications lives best on the web and print ads are primarily for branding, building and maintaining corporate credibility, and projecting an image of stability. Beyond that it is far less effective as a lead generation activity.
So, with all of that in mind, my print media reps call me and and pitch various opportunities and the conversations are absolutely surreal.
It goes like this, “Hey Paul we have a great opportunity in the upcoming book that will get your half page in at $2,400.00 and we will distribute it at such and such trade show. What do you think?”
I respond with, “Hey we are pulling back because print is not working well for us, we can’t track its effectiveness, and we can spend our ad dollars more effectively in the digital realm.”
They respond, “Oh, I am sorry to hear that, how about we reduce this to $1,500.00 per ad and get you in to three books at that price. You will spend $4,500.00 but be in three different issues.”
And what I hear is, “oh, if $2,400.00 for an ineffective media buy doesn’t excite you, does $4,500.00 for a larger ineffective media buy excite you more?”
I always feel bad after these calls because I get a little frustrated. The media reps are sales people, and very good ones; their goal is to get more spend. They want to increase my spend and what I want is a smarter spend.
I told one rep last week, I will double my spend if I get $500,000.00 in business traced back to the media spend but they want to keep nudging up the $60,000.00 a year they are getting now with only partially conclusive results.
This is a challenge for me with media reps, most of them terrific people and quite a number even friends but, they have taken the “do you want fries with that” methodology to the extreme.
Managing the process as they do, my job rapidly evolves into saying no, automatically, the answer when I pick up the phone is no. Then you get five minutes to see me be really stubborn.
Oops, phone is ringing with a call from a rep, I’d better take it.