Never before in the history of this country has the media environment been quite so competitive.
So, it will probably sound contradictory if not a little silly, to suggest that there is no better time for competing media to start co-operating with each other.
Frankly, I’m not holding my breath on this because when it comes to trashing each other our media don’t pull any punches. Their level of competitiveness is surpassed only by their pettiness in doing so.
But, while it all sounds very healthy and free marketish, it doesn’t make any sort of marketing sense.
After all, the very basis of marketing is the premise that it is not at all about what the marketer wants to say but what the consumer wants to hear.
And in terms of what consumers of mass media advertising space and airtime want to hear it is certainly not one medium trashing another or more importantly, that advertising packages have to be bought piece by piece.
The situation in the media market right now is precisely the same as if motor car manufacturers insisted on telling their customers that they had to buy gearboxes, engines, seats, windows, wheels and heaven knows what from different companies and then assemble the whole lot themselves.
As an advisor to a number of big and small advertisers, I constantly have to deal with situations where my clients are being pulled in all sorts of different directions. Media sales reps hound them – most of who promise a secret, one-stop, elixir for success.
What my clients want is a package of advertising, not bits and pieces from all over the place.
In desperation they phone or e-mail me for advice on what to do and it is extremely difficult trying to make a judgement call on an advertising idea or media offer on a piecemeal basis.
It is equally difficult to create any sort of cohesive advertising policy or programme when one is dealing with bits and pieces.
To make matters worse, the majority of media sales reps continue to promote the fact, especially among lesser skilled advertising managers, that their medium is a one size fits all solution.
Interestingly enough, while television reps still push their luck with regard to claiming that their media will do the whole advertising job, they seem, these days, a lot more ready to accept the concept of media synergy than their counterparts in the radio and print industries.
I don’t know whether its because of the massive wake up call that newspapers got in the middle 1990s when their circulations started going south, taking ad revenue along for the ride, or whether the people who purport to be in charge of marketing newspapers are naive and unskilled in what they do. But, newspapers and magazine people are paranoid to the extreme when it comes to their opposition. Almost as bad as the radio industry.
A while ago, a newspaper cut off delivery of a free, unsolicited, copy of their product they’d been sending me for years on the basis that as a media commentator and corporate advisor it would be a good idea for me to understand what they do.
When I asked why, I was told that they were put out because I gave a talk at one of their competitor’s conferences. Talk about cutting of one’s nose to spite one’s face.
It is this kind of petty jealousy mindset that hinders most media.
Now, I am not suggesting for a minute that newspapers, radio and TV along with magazines all start colluding with each other. All I am suggesting is that they co-operate.
That they all understand that individually they can at best supply less than half of an advertiser’s needs.
Intelligent media owners and sales reps will be those who are able to identify who will best be able to supply that other half and then get then to go along with them to visit clients and offer a package that works.
My own experience tells me that even the most naive of advertisers are getting to the point where advertising needs to be subjected to the same return on investment criteria as other aspects of the business.
Advertising has become so perceptively expensive that it has to prove itself to even the smallest advertiser.
And even these advertisers are getting sick and tired of the barrage of phone calls, faxes and emails from media owners, promising them one-stop solutions.
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