Let's start with the basics

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | December 04, 2009
A media sales person needs to be armed with more than the circulation figures to convince a client

A smart attire, a smarter phone and sleek laptop may impress an advertiser. The circulation figures or other numbers reeled out in a baritone or husky voice, depending on which side of the gender one is, may stretch the client's spine enough to stare at the face. Pleased with the display, a coffee would gladly be offered and pleasantries exchanged. But the discussion frequently ends soon without the ad-sales person carrying home the assurance of a confirmed cheque. Back in the office, the boss is ready with the same refrain. Where is the deal?

& #BANNER1 & #"Life is hell," curse many ad sales persons in such situations. "Why is the client so rigid?" is a refrain often heard in the ad sales circle - be it in print, television, radio and web, "when our product is so good". The truth is, even a "so good" product, needs to be made palatable with dollops of imagination and insight. Merely flashing a rate card often results in what-is-so-great kind of a look in client's face. One has to be smarter. "An ad-sales person need to step into the shoes of the client to understand the client's need before pushing his interests hard," says the marketer of a leading brand.

But don't misunderstand. Knowing one's product and taking pride in it is imperative to make the first impression. After all, there are multiple products in every category and across the different medias. In newspaper, there are general interest and business newspapers in English as well as in vernacular mediums. The magazine category has sub-categories. The television, radio and web too has categories and sub-categories. In such a complex ecosystem, invariably, the ad-sales person plays the role of an unpaid brand ambassador of his/her product too, telling how it is different from its peers, and how the advertiser could reap the harvest from it to solve a particular challenge or objective, behaving a bit like a management consultant. "Wearing two hats makes my job easier," says an ad-sales person of a leading newspaper brand, who has invariably made his pitch after identifying just how his 'solution' meets a specific client need.

The entry of MNC's with their structured approach to marketing, and the consequent trend of Indian firms matching them with their own enhanced spends had led to a significant expansion of the advertising pie. This has led to the proliferation of media. But the perception that media is expensive continues to be a hurdle. Result? Smaller clients tend to think, and rethink their media spends.

So is winning in this game a matter of luck? No. There are a few essentials. "The brand to be advertised has to be aligned with the media product," says seasoned marketer Rajeev Karwal, "which means that the target audience of the brand to be advertised should match with the reader/viewer profile of the media product." Geographic reach of the media product in case of newspaper and magazine is very relevant. "After all, what is the point of advertising a product in an area where it is not available," asks Karwal.

Imaginative ideas are a favourite with the marketers such as false covers, pull outs and special size book-lets given with the media product. The preference for these is high from the belief that the brand registers better with these kind of strategies. A class of marketers with interest in publishing would get further into nitty-gritties such as where the ad would appear—left side or right, top or bottom, bargain for special positions and so on…so that "maxium value for the money invested is derived."

When figures are not available, which happens with a new product, the marketers gauge the potential of the platform by asking how much money the promoter has invested in the media property and the ways devised to promote it. Such queries were raised by media buyers when Kaun Banega crorepati was launched a decade ago.

The evolution of technology has opened new avenues of growth for media houses, but it has also made the scenario complex. With media companies in print, television, radio and web, the basket selling has become a norm resulting in "Buy one, get one free" type offerings across different medias. When one places an ad on the TV, it gets discount from the group's print or web platform. "A marketer should only buy those space that is aligned with his/her brand," cautions Karwal, "the multiplier effect rarely works."