As we move into 2012 I always like to chat to the media owners and find out what their predictions are for the coming year – and the general consensus amongst most of them is that 2012 is going to be a tough, tough year, writes Richard Lord.
And when times are tough, the old ways of doing things need to be re-evaluated and new ideas need to be implemented in order to ensure that we don’t get left behind. In this economic climate, clients are becoming more and more demanding, wanting a lot more for a whole lot less.
So how do we give our clients the more that they want? Well the answer is simple…for too long, too many media agencies have overlooked the importance of the media owner in the equation. They are seen by many as merely suppliers, only as sellers of space and time, and not as anyone who can add value to the advertising and media process.
This is a serious oversight! In fact, in my opinion, the media owner is probably the most important player in the entire process because without them, we – the media agencies and the clients that we represent – lose out. The media owner doesn’t just sell space; not only are they in possession of vital information about the consumers that we want to tap into, and about how best to utilise their media to ensure maximum noting, visibility and response – but in many cases they have vital information about our clients too. The same clients that we all too often over-zealously guard and try to keep away from the media owners at any cost!
Why do I say this? Well consider this…
If I pick up a new client in a business pitch, it is in my best interest to ensure that I know as much about them and their business as absolutely possible. Yes, I will gather this knowledge over time, but my new client is expecting me to hit the ground running and give him the best possible media solutions to his problems NOW! He doesn’t have time to wait for me to get up to speed.
So who can I turn to? The previous agency? Sure – they’ve got time to thoroughly debrief me on the piece of business that I’ve just taken from them! They’ve got far more important things on their minds, like trying to replace the R100 or R200 million worth of billings that they’ve just lost. For anyone who has been through the debriefing process with the old agency – you will know that it just doesn’t work.
But the media owner on the other hand…they have in all likelihood more history with the client than any media agency ever will – media agencies come and go, but they all use the same media owners and so the media owner often has a wealth of client knowledge that they’d be more than happy to share…if we just asked them!
So why don’t media agencies tap into this knowledge base? Why do we so jealously guard our relationship with our clients? Is it perhaps that we feel threatened by the media owners and are too arrogant to admit that they can also have good ideas? We believe that we know best. We believe that only we can have the answers. We are scared that the media owners might try and sell something to our clients that we don’t approve of – and make us look bad.
But surely if we really had our client’s best interests at heart we would be trying every means possible to ensure that they get the best solutions? So why don’t we embrace the media owners and use their wealth of knowledge?
We should be taking the media owners to meet our clients, and we should be encouraging the sharing of ideas and brainstorming new ones – because the more the media owner knows about my client’s business, the better solutions he will be able to offer, and the better solutions my client gets, the better I look – and the better the solution, the better my client’s campaign (and by implication the more money he makes)…and if the media solutions work, then the media owner gets repeat business – and so we ALL win!!
I believe that the winners in 2012 are going to be those media planners and strategists that stop fighting with the media owners and embrace them as partners in their business. The media owners have masses of value to add and we’d be silly to ignore it. Because surely two heads can only be better than one? If we want to be more successful in 2012 we have to start working more closely with the media owners…this is not an option, but an absolute necessity!
Richard Lord is associate media director at The MediaShop.
Follow him on Twitter @rlord182 and The Media Shop @MediaShopZA