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Jan 19, 2004
How To

Online Ad Sales: How to Win More Insertion Orders in 2004

SUMMARY: Ever wonder why a media buyer decided against your site? We asked a whole bunch of them to reveal common reasons why publishers *don't* win insertion orders.

This article includes tips on how to leave phone messages that media buyers respond best to, and how to handle client vs. agency interactions:
According to AD:TECH survey results of heavy Net advertisers
(link below) 41% have budgeted to increase spending in online
ads, especially if behavior targeting is available.

Want to get your fair share of the growing pie? First you have
to make both the client and media buyers love you. And let's
face it, your sales rep's relations with media buyers are often
love/hate at best. Both sides are time-stressed, under the gun,
and frequently frustrated with each other.

We asked online media buying maven Seana Mulcahy of Brand Truth
to informally survey her wide circle of connections -- e-media
buyers at top agencies throughout the US -- to find out what your
sales reps can do better to impress them.

-> Getting through to the right agency-side contact

Do you have an intern or junior staffer calling up agencies to
ask, "What accounts do you handle?" Tell them to put the phone
down *now*.

Agencies are too time stressed to help you with your basic
homework; and, there's nothing that's guaranteed to make a worse
impression than calling with a lazy question. Account wins are
generally mentioned in the trades, most of which have online
databases of back stories.

(Don't rely on surfing agency sites - we've found many are
outdated. Plus, even if client wins are listed, losses generally
are not - for obvious reasons.)

Once you have the agency name, it's ok to call the media buying
director to find out who the right internal contact is for that
account. Assume you'll hit voicemail, and assume the director is
listening to your message among dozens that day, possibly from
his or her cell phone while running between meetings.

That means: don't ramble on in voicemail. Quickly and clearly
say your name, your phone, your email first of all, and then ask
your specific question. If your message takes longer than 15-
seconds, it's too long. If your message includes extraneous
information such as a pitch, "We're the leader in…" you're
wasting the director's valuable airtime. Get in, get out, and
make it snappy.

Once you have the media buyer's name, call up to begin building a
relationship, including asking, "Do you prefer to be contacted by
phone or email?" Yes, definitely ask media buyers out to lunch,
they'll appreciate the gesture even if they rarely have the time
to take you up on the offer.

Biggest first call mistake: Telling a media buyer that their boss
or client "told me to call you", implying you were given an
urgent directive versus simply a name. You will invariably be
found out and look like a manipulative liar. It's not worth it.

-> How to impress media buyers with your data

"Buyers are information junkies," says Mulcahy. "They love any
data you can get your hands on. Their lives are filled with
creating 'decks' or presentations."

Best data to include: unique visitors, demographics,
psychographics, usage behavior, etc. Got interesting marketplace
data? Send it over before the RFP process even begins, it's a
great way to build a relationship with a new buyer or agency.

Mistakes to avoid: Never send over a stat without a specific
dated source. Reassure the buyer your numbers are not biased or
old stats. Data without a source gets tossed.

Plus, don't "dumb down" your data. Mulcahy says, "A few buyers
told me cynical stories of new reps coming in with such dumbed
down presentations they were appalled."

-> Avoid common (seriously annoying) proposal mistakes

Remember that a media buyer is seriously time stressed and that
your proposal is sitting in a stack with others. Make it stand
out - not by chest beating about how you are #1, but by being the
easiest proposal to use.

Answer every RFP question completely *without* forcing a media
buyer to click through a hotlink to get critical information.
Yes, this include your creative format specs.

While media buyers are looking for new ideas so they can shine in
front of clients, they don't want your proposal to stray too far
from the initial request. It's a fine line to walk between
cookie-cutter and creative.

More basics to win RFPs:

- Include "realistic" testing times for rich media campaigns

- Indicate you're able to optimize a campaign that's not working.
"Most buyers don't want to back out of contracts of numbers are
falling. They want reps to offer up placement and/or creative

- That said, offer "easy out" addendums that are 15-30-days.

- Pressure your publisher to stick with IAB standardized creative
formats as much as possible. "Multiple formats frustrate
producers and infuriate clients."

- If you're offering email, include a screen shot of the list-
join page and the privacy policy so the buyer can tell at a
glance the list is truly permission-based.

- Definitely call and/or email the media buyer for clarification
on the RFP, often you'll get a leg up on the competition simply
by learning more about what the buyer is really looking for.

-> Best practices in juggling client and agency relations

Yes the client is king (or queen) and yes a strong client-side
relationship can make all the difference for you. Just watch out
for politics.

Although, you may be able use a strong client relationship to
arm-twist a media buyer, it will hardly endear you to the agency
nor help with other clients they may have.

Mulcahy's advice, "Don't make me look like a dumbass and not tell
me that you're taking my clients out and wining and dining them."
Give the agency a heads up, especially if you're trying to pitch
a novel media buy that the agency is unaware of.

Plus, as noted above, never ever tell a media buyer that the client told you to call if the only thing you got from the client
was the buyer's name. This kind of misrepresentation will crush
your budding relationship. (And Mulcahy says, "It happens

-> Quote round-up: why your proposal was rejected

Mulcahy asked a group of media buyers to give us a typical reason
why they rejected any publisher from their last insertion order.

“He forwarded it to an assistant and wasn’t in the loop.”
“I couldn’t reach him to discuss the deal.”
“She came in four times higher than we had budgeted for.”
“I wanted custom sponsorships and I got crap.”
“They lied to me about the opt-in subscriber base to get me to sponsor newsletters.”
“I don’t like the rep.”
“My contact has been promoted. Now I have to deal with some kid.”
“He calls my boss all the time when I don’t call him back. Last time he didn’t even give me 24-hours to return the call.”
“The information submitted was vague and confusing.”
“It was too much work for me to sell into my client.”
“I can make a quick phone call to the other site and they’ll get right on it. I don’t even need to send them an RFP.”
“She rate cut the hell out of it.”
“They don’t accept rich media.”
“There’s too much clutter on the site.”
“The have proprietary ad serving tools. That’ll never fly with my client. We need third-party tools to verify and optimize.”
“I needed all creative specs. All they did was give me the link to their ad tools page. There were over 20 specs there.”

Useful links related to this article:

AD:TECH Survey Results -- Heavy Internet Marketers Reveal What's Working What's Not, & 2004 Budgets

Brand Truth Inc.
See Also:

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