Marketing Coaching

Small Business, Big Impact: A Guide to Smart Ad Placement

One thing so many people reach out to us for is help with their media buy plan. Is a newspaper buy what I need? Should I leverage social media ads through a media partner? Should I buy broadcast TV or cable commercials? And now there's ConnectedTV! Ahhhhh…. Ensuring your marketing budget is spent most effectively is essential as a small business owner. It is the hardest to know who to trust and what will bring the outcome you need. There are questions to ask before you sign on the dotted line with any media partner, and we’re going to tell you what to ask for and what to avoid!

Exhibit A: How you’re probably buying ads

As an ad agency, we’ve always said we should buy media two ways, using our gut and using our data. So many times in media buying, we let society dictate our next move with thoughts like "I think I need to be doing Facebook Ads,” “Well, my competition is doing a YouTube Channel, so I need to be,” or maybe “This is new, so I should buy it and be first to the table.” But, the reality is that these are not good reasons to buy media. 

Does this sound like you? First, you communicate with a sales rep, and you wonder if they can help you; they sell you what they think you might need, or in some cases, what they need to sell (probably because they are incentivized to sell a certain program), and you agree to purchase that media buy. A good sales rep will ask lots of questions. What are your goals, and why do you think they can help, so be ready to answer! But sometimes they just send you a proposal, you sign it, the ad is live or printed, and then they ask you for renewal without having to prove results or impact. Rinse and repeat. Just say no to this. Pause and think about what you need BEFORE you pick up that phone, not just take what they have to sell you. It's up to you to know what you're buying and ensure it solves your problem.

Exhibit B: How Reach buys ads

Navigating the First Meeting with Any Sales Rep

It's okay to talk about money and your return on investment with your sales reps. You are dipping into your pocket when you don’t necessarily have to get results for your business. You should absolutely feel confident in holding them and their team accountable. BUT…. you should know your goal and decide if you can get that investment back by leveraging their products. If you’re buying a $5,000 ad in the newspaper, how much of your product do you need to sell to earn $20,000 in revenue? Will it only take one ad, or do you need to invest in frequency? Have they done this before with a similar business? Within your first meeting, let them know you hope to hold them accountable for ROI. A partner you can trust will absolutely be able to answer these questions!

Questions to Ask Your Sales Rep

Beyond ROI, there are many questions you can ask your sales rep to determine if this will be the best solution to your current marketing frustration. These are standard, and any company should be able to provide answers easily. 

  • How often does this circulate, and how many issues will be distributed?
  • How will we measure the ROI from this buy? Keyword: WE
  • How would you plan around my specific needs? Can you put together a special package that meets my goals?
  • What made you call on me? Did you see that I had specific problems in this area, and why are you the right solution?
  • Can you show me a case study or work similar to mine that has seen success in these programs you’re selling me?
  • Who is going to be my dream team at your company to make sure this works well? Do you do the work in-house or sub it out? Do they know my market?
  • I am shopping around to find the best fit; what separates you from other media outlets?
  • What metrics will you report on, or how will you determine what to report on?
  • What if I am unhappy with the results in a few months? How do I get out of my contract? 

Before Signing on the Dotted Line

While some partners have expansive teams with expertise that adds value, it's not always the case. It’s important not to rely solely on their numbers or the proprietary products they offer. A self-report is still a self-report, and not all companies are honest in their numbers. Always ensure you have access to your own data and information to check the performance on your end. Doing so will give you an accurate view of how well the buy meets your goals, helping you make better decisions over time. Additionally, ensuring transparency in reporting metrics gives you more confidence in your own decision-making. We want to empower you with this information, so you can be proud of yourself! You’re doing it! 

Reporting After the Ad Buy Ends

Many media partners will send you a report with statistics, but ask them to only report on your specific goals you set together in the beginning, which will help you determine if something needs to be tweaked or if you're on track. Sometimes they just throw a bunch of numbers at you or export an automated report. Because you’re paying someone to do a job you no longer want to do, we are giving you permission - it is okay to hold them accountable and ask questions about their reports! If it helps, tell them you’re just trying to help them keep you as a client! So if things are not going quite as you had desired, let them know. Feel free to ask for a reassessment meeting to brainstorm now that you’ve done a little test. Pose questions such as, "We do not see the numbers hitting where we need to. What can we do to counter this next month?" It’s ok to tell them you want more of something, and they will tell you if they can deliver. On the other side, a good sales rep will be in lockstep with you to hit goals throughout the contract. They should be providing regular updates and helping you meet or exceed expectations.

When It's Not Working Out

Before entering into an arrangement with any media channel, be aware of the terms and conditions you need to give them if you want to exit the deal. Be aware of how much notice you need to end the contract. Before signing, ensure you understand all provisions so everyone's rights are protected. Consider asking for a total annual invoice from your rep - no one wants surprises! If you don’t like to read agreements, then simply forward them to your attorney. It’s not worth not reading it and then dealing with the consequences of that! Trust us! 

Holding media sales reps accountable is a necessity that can help maximize the potential of your media buys. As a business owner, you can ensure that your placements reach your ideal customers and meet your goals. With these strategies and tactics in mind, you can start focusing on building trusting relationships with your media reps and developing a culture of accountability for success.