Prior to this explosion of vendor options, it was an understood yet understated mandate that media buyers met with all salespeople who made enough of an effort to do so. Back then, one of the benefits of selling a tier-one content property was the easier access buyers would grant you--but at that time, even reps at tier-three properties could get a meeting with minimal effort. Today, however, thanks to an invasion of media properties and the ability to e-mail a media kit in lieu of presenting one, it has become acceptable for media buyers not to accept meetings. Consequently, the issue of securing face time with buyers has become the single biggest problem for sellers of media today.
Those sellers who have confided this difficulty to me harbor resentment of "today's media-buying community" for keeping representatives of even the most prestigious publishing brands at a distance. This resentment is understandable given the immense pressure sellers are under to meet meeting quotas, but reminiscing and resentment are not going to fill their calendars.
So what can media sellers do to increase their face time with media buyers? Follow this two-step process.
First, sellers need to both accept and embrace media buyers as celebrities. Nothing buyers may do or say will shock your composure once you fully digest this concept. However, if you cannot accept this idea, while still keeping your pride, your continued resentment will inhibit your success in today's media environment.
Now, Hollywood celebrities are notorious for expecting things for free--behavior that media buyers have always mimicked. Step two in securing more face time puts a unique twist on the common practice of showering buyers with free stuff. Instead of offering lunches, tickets and weekend getaways, media sellers should feed media buyer's celebrity hunger for free goodies with something their content property's audience is willing to pay for. For example, while selling Tennis magazine, I gave tennis lessons to media planners at a private tennis club. This exercise gave me face time with media buyers inside the very environment I was trying to sell them.
Let's apply this approach to other content categories. Financial properties can schedule meetings with media planners to provide financial coaching. News-oriented content properties can conduct an educational seminar series designed to dissect recent history and current world events (outside the world of advertising), so media buyers can own a better-educated perspective.
Fashion-oriented properties can invite media buyers into a design studio and let them walk out with a pair of $150 jeans. Home-style content properties can set up meetings at media buyers' apartments and give them design tricks to make their living space more comfortable. If by chance you represent celebrity-centric content, invite your media-buying celebrities to experience beauty treatments practiced on the stars.
Whatever the content property you represent, identify something your audience values and media buyers will enjoy receiving. Most importantly, make sure that when buyers receive their freebies, your attendance is necessary--so you get the face time so necessary to open and close opportunities.
Of course, these unique approaches are expensive to provide and time-consuming to plan and execute. But if getting meetings is harder (and it is), publishers need to work smarter and harder to obtain them. In addition, unlike traditional lunches and even sales calls, these approaches multitask by both providing a unique setting for sellers to sit face to face with buyers, while promoting the unique sales proposition of the media property at the same time.
Although step two appears to be more of a challenge in this approach to securing face time, step one of fully accepting the status of media buyers and letting go of any resentment is much harder. Good luck getting to that place--and please feel free to e-mail me with any questions on how to adapt this strategy for the content brand you are selling.