Carrying A Bag

Selling media isn't complex, but the technology behind serving an ad is.   

Making media sales sound more complex helps those contributing to the complexity appear more valuable, while conversely making others less confident about what they thought they knew -- leaving them feeling less valuable.  When you cut out words like platform and ecosystem, and eliminate the acronyms, you are left with one word that has been part of the conversation between buyers and sellers of media since the conversation started: "targeting." Nothing more, nothing less.   

You don't need to explain how to build an engine in order to sell lots of cars or how to grow coffee beans to charge a lot for a latte.   And you don't need a Ph.D. in ad targeting technologies to sell media programs that alleviate client problems.  Selling media isn't that complicated.

Step One: Get meetings with people involved in the decision of buying media (not easy, but not complex). 



Step Two:  Once you get a meeting, always arrive fifteen minutes early. You can't recapture the positive energy lost through stress that occurs inside those fifteen minutes when they are spent trying to get where you need to be. 

Step Three: Check in with the receptionist and focus on remembering his or her name.  Then say it out loud like this: "Thank you, [insert name]."  This will serve as practice in remembering the names of the people you meet with -- so you can use their names in your conversation while looking into their eyes, and not down at the cards they handed you with their names on them.

Step Four: Make the people you're meeting with feel very good about their decision to meet with you and create a compelling reason for them to meet with you again.

Step Five: Repeat these steps until your quota is met. 

Of course I am oversimplifying the process of selling media, but as publishers we need to do this in order to combat the over complication that has transpired.  "We" let this happen by allowing third-party companies selling from a platform built on skimming off the price of an ad impression we create, and grabbing our seat at the head of the media sales table.

These third-party companies are like a waiter at a restaurant who took a warm smile as an invitation to sit down and join the group -- leaving those dining wondering when the uninvited guest will ever shut up about the specials. 

Let's recognize a couple of items.  One -- all of this nifty targeting has a 50% chance or less of hitting the target these companies claim to reach 100% of the time, inside households with multiple users of the same computer.  Two, everything "performs better" when it's priced cheaper, so the real advantage is the arbitrage nature of these company's business models we mistakenly fuel.  Three, no one thing makes anybody do anything. Ads may influence the subconscious, but that's about it -- so promising something will work is an empty promise.  And lastly, buyers do not have the best interests of publishers in mind - so don't mistake a buyer's desire for extreme targeting as a reason to provide it at all costs. 

Targeting solutions are just a complement -- something else in the bag -- carried by people who carry the weight of a quota and the success of a company on their shoulders.  Selling media is not complex -- it's just not easy.  Which is why those good at this craft make a great living and those not competent in the art, try to turn it into a science.   

To be successful selling media, you need: 

A.   An abundance of confidence in yourself.

B.   An ability to demonstrate the attraction your audience has to your content.

C.   Creativity to match this demonstrated desire with the communication needs of your clients. 

D.  Leverage to induce buyers to act on an opportunity, and the strength to say no to demands that don't help your business.

E.   A boss who understands that while you're working for him,  he also works for you -- to clear sales obstacles, not create them (a decision to make the site's inventory available for sale through other channels creates problems for your own salespeople -- period.). 

So here's to those who carry a bag, and to blocking and tackling their way to a great year.  Don't lose sight of how uncomplicated this job really is.

5 comments about "Carrying A Bag".
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  1. Helene Kremer from L'esprit de Vin, January 20, 2011 at 1:15 p.m.

    Great advice, Ari! Thanks for coming back and writing more this year

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, January 20, 2011 at 1:40 p.m.

    You are so far ahead of the game, it's not funny....except for E where the salesperson is not in control. Certainly, a salesperson can help or hurt a situation, but a boss who is not of such nature and nurture cannot be addressed. Most supervisors (where I worked) came from the sales floor, so to speak, who never made their goals and the only ones who wanted a guaranteed salary with limited hours and wanted the job. The highest earners did not want their incomes cut in half either.

  3. Jason Krebs from Tenor/Google, January 20, 2011 at 3:47 p.m.

    Always well thought out, honest and helpful Ari. But your next article that doesn't bash all ad networks as being harmful and valueless, will be your first. I look forward to reading it as always.

  4. Wendy Hidenrick from AwesomenessTV, January 20, 2011 at 6:35 p.m.

    Always to the point. I love it!

  5. Ken Nicholas from VideoAmp, March 16, 2011 at 3:09 a.m.

    Astute insight & vision as always, Ari.

    I'm always surprised at how [E] above is the one that gets overlooked, and yet is the one too many [as Paula Lynn says] in a Sr. position that are totally unqualified, and are disingenuous to themselves, their people, and the Sales process as a whole.

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