|Calling Ad Agencies and Advertisers|
What to say when calling them?
I would appreciate if you guys could please give me some advice on approaching advertising agencies and advertisers when selling advertising. I am not very familiar with the process and would be grateful for your help.
When approaching an ad agency, say you called the main number, what would be some things to mention to the receptionist? Also, what might be some things that should not be mentioned, maybe until I have the opportunity to speak to a media planner or media buyer? Would I have to mention specific websites? Should I mention the specific client of the agency that I am trying to target? What might be some things that I can say to increase the chances of being connected to a media planner or media buyer (can you tell me who it would be) or whoever the next person that I am supposed to speak to might be (if it is someone else, can you please mention who)?
When speaking to a media planner or media buyer (or whoever is next) at an agency, what would be some things to mention at the outset and some things not to mention? Would I just have to mention the websites and say why they would be a good place to advertise for the client and then sort of just continue the conversation along those lines?
When approaching an advertiser directly, say you reached the receptionist, what would be some things to mention and not to mention? If I can only get a customer service number for a company, what might be some things to mention and not to mention? Should I ask the customer service department to connect me to the media planner or media buyer or marketing department? Would I have to mention specific websites to the receptionist or customer service department?
When speaking to a media planner or media buyer or maybe someone in the marketing department at an advertiser, what would be some things to mention at the outset and some things not to mention? Would I just have to mention the websites and say why they would be a good place for their company to advertise and then sort of just continue the conversation along those lines?
I apologize if some of my questions seem a little repetitive, but I think knowing the answers to some of them before speaking to advertising agencies and advertisers could be very helpful.
I really appreciate your help.
I have to sell advertising for a print publication so the approach may be a little different but the steps that I take are:
1. Identify prospects
2. Research prospect to identify contact
3. Written approach with sample copy of magazine.
I have the advantage of working in a small specialist niche so I am probably personally acquainted with a lot of the major players.
@piatkow, Thanks for the response.
I have a few questions that I was hoping to ask you.
Are you contacting the advertisers directly to ask them about advertising in the print publication that you represent? Do you speak to the media planner or media buyer at the advertiser or someone else? Also, when you speak to the individual who purchases the advertising, if they don't know you, would describing the print publications or other medium that you represent be the best way to start? If you can only call the general number or customer service number of a company, any advice on a good way to start?
Have you dealt with ad agencies, perhaps for some advertisers who advertise a lot and have an agency handle their media buying? Would the way you approach them or what you say to them be different from if you were contacting an advertiser directly? Also, if you don't know exactly who to contact an agency, any suggestions on what might be some things to say to whoever answers the phone.
I am asking these questions because I am not known by the people at the advertisers and agencies that I will be contacting. I have to make an approach.
I appreciate your help.
Yes I contact advertisers direct - always by snail mail with a sample publication enclosed.
The sector is a mix of arts organisations, small business and artists. For corporations and voluntary organisations I look for the "Publicity Officer" which is the usual title in the sector.
The sales pitch is in the letter and, frankly, if the product can't sell itself then I should give up as editor. I don't need a hard sell approach as I can sell out every issue and sometimes turn advertisers away. That is painful but I have to give readers a decent proportion of editorial otherwise we loose circulation.
The sector doesn't normally work through ad agencies so that isn't an issue.
I would be contacting people by phone.
Since you have experience in selling advertising (even though it is in print advertising), any suggestions on how to begin or what to say on the phone based on your experience selling advertising.
Would I just mention the websites and go into the sales pitch? Would there be anything that you would not mention right away?
keep in mind that these agency people are getting a ton of calls/e-mails per day. telling them about your website will most likely get ignored. differentiate with charts, pictures, or any type of visuals that makes your outreach a lot easier to glance over.
another good tactic is to show examples of what their competitors are doing on your site. not very strategic but it works.
|another good tactic is to show examples of what their competitors are doing on your site. not very strategic but it works. |
Do you mean when you call an advertiser directly, telling them what advertising competing products are doing on your site and also when calling an agency representing a brand, telling them what advertising a competing brand maybe represented by another agency is doing on your site?
|keep in mind that these agency people are getting a ton of calls/e-mails per day. telling them about your website will most likely get ignored. differentiate with charts, pictures, or any type of visuals that makes your outreach a lot easier to glance over. |
Would bullet points in an email highlighting some of the benefits of advertising on a website be good? Or are charts, pictures and visuals necessary? I was thinking maybe some good bullet points might help to interest them.
Also, do you think calling the agencies and speaking to a media buyer or planner and mentioning some of the strengths of your websites as a way to start and then following up with an email with bullet points would be a better approach than just sending an email with bullet points?
I appreciate your thoughts.
|because I am not known by the people at the advertisers and agencies that I will be contacting. I have to make an approach |
Advertiser and agency personnel are accustomed to contacts with new media and media personnel.
One way to look at this is that it is in the best interest of the company / client / product to take your call and listen to your pitch. BUT: you've got to have a good elevator pitch to get their attention, and either get the F2F appointment, webcast appointment, or commitment to view your presentation.
I suggest a web-based presentation, customized (to client, or at least market segment), with a log-in / registration required to view. It will confirm that they made the commitment to view, and allow you to determine an appropriate follow-up schedule.
|these agency people are getting a ton of calls/e-mails per day |
One way to differentiate yourself might be to have a web-based video conference with the prospect. There are a variety of viable, commercial services available, and it offers the benefit of realtime, F2F interaction without the travel cost. In that vein, although customizable only to market segment, and not to specific clients, might be a scheduled webcast introducing your media, and presenting the benefits.
I deal with ad agencies. Funny story, I just fired two of them. Told one to take a flying leap, not putting up with their crap anymore no matter how good the money was. Two days later, another ad agency called and took up the ad space that just freed up. Then the first ad agency grovelled, so I agreed to take their money from them again. True story, sometimes I am just too nice. The second one then decided my terms weren't acceptable (though it's what we'd agreed to) so I asked for a premium to change - which I could justify. They said no, I said sorry, let's stay in touch because I do want to work this out. They thought about it, decided it was good for their clients, and came back and negotiated. So despite my best efforts to rid myself of taking their money, they've managed to persist and overcome.
Anyway - I have the same problem. No idea how to crack this market head on. I do have something I do that gets their attention but it's not as direct as I'd like.
One person who is a contractor in the business was kind enough to tell me that generally I want to speak to the 'new media' person. That'll get me to the right department.
Unfortunately, when I start talking about the innovative services I offer, I draw blank stares from them. They like to talk about social media and SEO, but when I put it together in a package like nobody else has, they've no idea what I'm talking about.
I take consolation in that while I don't have a clue what these people are about, they're probably looking at these new internet punks showing up in their turf, and thinking the same thing about me.
I first wanted to say thank you to all of you for your excellent suggestions and advice.
At the moment, I would not be able to do a web-based presentation, web-based video conference or meet face to face, but I do think they are very good ways to approach a potential client.
I would be calling people on the phone and telling them that the websites have targeted traffic, and I think they would be good places to advertise on. I would then provide more details on the visitors to the websites.
Do you think that even though I would not be able to make the types of presentations that you guys have suggested, the targeted traffic would help me to sell advertising?
I have heard that targeted traffic is something advertisers look for, and I would also not be asking for a lot of money. If these things are important, then I am thinking that even though I would not be able to present in one of the ways mentioned, they might be interested?
Please tell me what you think.
That's all I sell is targetted traffic. Geo and niche targetted. three observations:
- finding the right ad agency is difficult, because not all have clients in my niche. I've no good answer for this.
- I'm pretty proud of how much inventory I have. the ad agencies laugh at it. I actually got asked once "Is that all you have". It's like high school all over again.
- If it's targetted enough AND quality, it will perform for them. I've found though that they will recognize this, but won't tell you this (see my previous post). They'll want you twisting on the string of their cash. Be careful, but don't forget that if you do have targetted niche traffic that performs, that you've got something special.
|and telling them that the websites have targeted traffic |
Perhaps you are being conversational with this statement, and have left much unstated. But if not, may I suggest that the fact that the traffic is targeted may not be enough. Do you have some specifics about the audience you are delivering? How many? Geographic origin? Demographics? How long do they stay on the site? Repeat visits? Etc. These may or may not apply to advertiser needs. However, by having these facts at your command, you may begin to create some value beyond "targeted".
|and I think they would be good places to advertise on |
I am sure there is more that you left unsaid here.
Two things to think about: 1) can you justify your position (opinion)? Why is your site a good place to advertise? What benefit / value does it provide the advertiser? Why is it better than other sites? 2) More importantly: how can your site help the advertiser achieve their advertising / marketing objectives? What are they trying to accomplish: recognition of product or brand name? Drive traffic to local stores? Capture prospect data? Perhaps you could consider an approach of introducing your site, providing some descriptive information, and steer the conversation to the advertiser, and what they are trying to accomplish, their present usage of various media (including web advertising), etc. ... get them talking! You'll be demonstrating an interest in providing a solution to their objectives. Maybe there is a need there for which you can custom tailor a solution. It's not about you or your website ... it's about them, their company and products, and their objectives and needs!
BW100 makes some good points. I've found that the ad agencies are tracking crazy. It's like tracking is more important than conversions or anything else - as long as you can track it they're interested.
|finding the right ad agency is difficult, because not all have clients in my niche |
Wheel, I strongly suspect you already know all I'm about to state, but ... And, this is more difficult because of the lack of specifics, but ...
Is the product business to business or business to consumer?
Can you identify most of the companies in your niche? If not, I would suggest doing that first. With that data, finding the agencies can be relatively painless. (Wading through the agencies to find an account fit is just not efficient, unless the niche is so specialized that there are only a handful of agencies serving it).
At what level are you trying to play? National, regional or local? Big bucks, or whatever you can get? (Analogy to unsold airplane seats here: when the plane takes off with empty seats, that is unrealized profit. Do you really care about the size of the person in the seat, as long as the seat is sold? Arguably, full at whatever price is still full, and, presuming performance delivering the audience, you can always raise the rates or get new advertisers at a higher rate later).
One easy and cost-efficient way to identify the agency is to ask the client. The client person who handles marketing / advertising, etc. might be willing to share that, and you are going to want to pitch that person, at some point in time, anyway. All for the price of a telephone call.
After that, there are several national advertising / media trade pubs (print and digital versions) that can be mined for account data. Also, a very famous directory that has both agency (provides edited list of clients) and client (states the agencies of record) versions.
Pricey, but valuable.
Mining news releases specific to identified companies and products can many times yield the Advertising Agency or PR Agency names.
Just a start, but maybe it will help.
Thank you again for those helpful responses.
I wanted to answer some of the questions asked.
Some specifics about the audience being delivered: M18-34, college-educated, from USA. They sometimes ask me to recommend products that I think are good. Enthusiastic about subject.
In terms of why are the websites a good place to advertise, in addition to the above, there are not a lot of ads on a page so I think visitors will remember an ad if they see it.
I think advertising on the sites would help the advertiser with online sales and people buying more of their products from local stores selling their products.
Do you think these characteristics would be something that would interest advertisers and agencies?
With regard to tracking, I think you mean more than traffic. Can you please tell me what ad agencies want to have tracked?
Product is business to consumer.
I am looking for national advertisers. I am not looking for big bucks at the moment. I think your advice about raising the ad rates later is the way to approach this.
I can identify some of the companies in my niche but I would have to find out who their ad agency is. I know this is going to be hard but I think the suggestions that you made are some good ways to go about this.
I will ask the client and if they tell me who their agency is, that would be great or I will try to look at some advertising publications and on the internet and see which agency is handling an advertiser I would like to target.
I appreciate your advice.
|audience being delivered: M18-34, college-educated, from USA |
Nice, desirable demographic. How much traffic do you deliver?
|why are the websites a good place to advertise, in addition to the above |
A challenge to your thinking: Without regard to traffic, how many websites are delivering the same demographic. What distinguishes your site from theirs? Your audience from theirs?
|there are not a lot of ads on a page so I think visitors will remember an ad if they see it |
Think about putting some "spin" on it: Limited ad placements per page / Exclusive product on page / Exclusive (only) ad on page. Create value.
Adspeak: "Drive traffic to their sales site"
|advertising on the sites would help the advertiser with online sales |
Adspeak: "drive traffic to store locator"
|buying more of their products from local stores selling their products |
Do you have any click-through rate data that could establish value?
(Yes, more tracking)!
My market is national, multi-billion dollar companies. There's about 10 prospects in my niche/region, though there are different operations within each company. They're doing business to consumer. The companies doing the advertising are at the level of say IBM/Dell (though I don't work in the tech sector). And I'm a one person operation out of podunk.
I've tried calling the prospects directly, I get nowhere. Best case they've referred me to their ad agency who normally seem disgruntled that they're getting pushed down from the top. 0 success rate that way.
It's interesting, because I see a similiar operation in the US, same niche, that has their own sales team and they appear to sell directly to the client instead of the ad agency. Another one of those things that proves I don't understand the traditional big brand advertising model.
|Nice, desirable demographic. How much traffic do you deliver? |
About 10,000 visitors a month.
|A challenge to your thinking: Without regard to traffic, how many websites are delivering the same demographic. What distinguishes your site from theirs? Your audience from theirs? |
This is something I have to give some thought to.
Thank you for telling me the ad industry speak on some of the things that I said and also how I may want to mention not having many ads on a page. I think these are very helpful things to know.
|Do you have any click-through rate data that could establish value? |
(Yes, more tracking)!
For some of the pages, I do. In addition to traffic and click-thru rate data, is there other tracking data that agencies like to see or consider important?
I appreciate your help.
|It's interesting, because I see a similiar operation in the US, same niche, that has their own sales team and they appear to sell directly to the client instead of the ad agency. |
If an advertiser is represented by an agency, does it also purchase advertising on its own if it is directly contacted by someone selling advertising and the advertiser feels it would be a good place to advertise?
I know it is the advertiser's money and they can probably purchase an ad on their own if they want, but I just wanted to ask to understand the process a little better.
I think not. I've always been deferred to the ad agency - always.
Remember, they have budgets for the advertising, and they've hired the ad agency. They're not going to go get a new budget just to advertise with you. They won't even decide if they want to advertise with you. They'll defer all of that to the people they've appointed as the decision makers for that process.
Worse, I think in my case when it comes to the ad agency from above like that, I think the ad agency gets disgruntled. Perhaps thinks it makes them look bad. So the last thing they're going to do is shuffle budget through to you.
You'd have to convince the company at the top level that they need to advertise with you, and take the steps to force the ad agency to contact you. I don't think that's a conversation that's going to take place.
But I could be wrong. I do not understand this aspect of the business or the people running it. I just like the money.
|the audience being delivered: M18-34, college-educated, from USA ... About 10,000 visitors a month ... business to consumer ... I am looking for national advertisers |
As a general interest site, this may not be much traffic for this demographic, and may not be of interest to a national advertiser. However, what is understandably, conspicuously absent is the specific niche audience being delivered. Check the traffic stats of your competitors, and compare yours to theirs. See who their advertisers are.
You may wish to consider your time allocation, and outsource the ad selling while you use the time to build traffic.
|national, multi-billion dollar companies ... 10 prospects in my niche/region ... business to consumer |
A nice, geographically defined, quantified market. What's not to like?
|at the level of say IBM/Dell |
I am going to guess that you mean "BIG". The company cultures are miles apart, as is their respective levels of sophistication
|a one person operation out of podunk |
they don't know that ... and, so what?
|Best case they've referred me to their ad agency |
Results are results ... some people probably don't even get that referral
|who normally seem disgruntled that they're getting pushed down from the top |
Of course they do ... they are the "experts", and they are supposed to know everyone and everything of value. They didn't know you, so they are embarrassed, and need to compensate. Just part of the game.
Based on the implied company size and associated cultural sophistication, I doubt this is a one-call close. Or even a two-, three- or four-call close. This requires expert pressure and attention, consistently applied. With ten prospects it is doable. A lengthy effort, and significant investment of time, but when you "hit", it will be worth it! Don't give up!
|a similiar operation in the US, same niche, that has their own sales team |
If it truly is their own sales team, they must either be raking in the big bucks, or have a huge overhead (but maybe not with a straight commission deal ... which if they have, maybe you could have).
Do they sell to some or all of your defined prospects? If so, perhaps some analysis of their sites, content, traffic, advertisers etc. can be used to open a door or two.
|appear to sell directly to the client instead of the ad agency |
Well, appearances can be deceiving ... but, never say never ... my guess is that they are cross-selling both client and agency, which is twice as effective as just dealing with the agency. When the agency knows you are doing that, and delivering the same message both places, it's very difficult for them to not pay attention to what you are saying / offering. There is no way they can know what is on the client's agenda at any specific moment, and they wouldn't want to be in a position of negating the value of something the client has to say. As challenging as it is, there is something to be said for extending the "consistently and firmly applied gentle pressure" to both the client and the agency.
Good luck!I'd be interested in future developments.
Back to work for me.
Do they sell to some or all of your defined prospects? If so, perhaps some analysis of their sites, content, traffic, advertisers etc. can be used to open a door or two.
I meant to ask this question before.
Can you please tell me, when you are paid by an advertiser directly or by an ad agency, how are you paid? Is it by check?
If it is not, what payment methods have advertisers and agencies that you have dealt with used to pay you?
What would you recommend as the best ways to collect payment?
Thanks for the advice bw100. It's great that an expert is willing to help us newbs.
|when you are paid by an advertiser directly or by an ad agency, how are you paid? Is it by check? |
First things first, let's make the sale ... BUT ... you are right, let's be aware of payment methods, terms and conditions. You may wish to consider developing your preferences: maybe, electronic invoicing, terms of net 30 days, payment methods of paypal, ACH funds transfer, credit card payment, etc. Then, work in some flexibility with the invoicing and payment methods. There's nothing wrong with a check. But, a thirty-day payment is a pipe-dream. [You will invoice the agency,and the agency will invoice the client. Then, the client will pay the agency, and the agency will pay you. Think this will happen in 30 days? 60 days?(Maybe)]. Now you are involved in book-keeping, collections, etc. Who knew things could be so complicated? This is business reality. (Biting my tongue, and tasting the blood) ... this is where advertising networks of any name or type have a value,since many of them will absorb some of that float,or at least control it without any effort one your part. Sure, you give up some earned value ... but you get compensated more quickly. Be sure to read the contracts carefully, and keep copies of what you agree to (electronic and paper, backed up).
I hope that some of this was helpful. This happens to be something in which I have a lifetime of experience, from several perspectives. So: experienced in this, but a newb in most other areas of web development.
Glad to find an opportunity to make a positive contribution to your sites development, and "give-back" as well as "pay-it-forward".
Your information on the different payment methods and payment process is very helpful. You really know a lot.
Also, thanks for the advice on the contracts. That is definitely true.