While it is true that the job of us media planners is to a) create media plans that connect our clients to their target customers and b) get them the best deals we possibly can – it is also our job to create great relations with the media reps. A rep that likes you, and likes working with you, is much more likely to go to bat for you and your client when it comes to getting a great deal or layering in that value add. You know – the things that makes us media planners look like heroes!
So, it is super important that while we are negotiating with reps on price and being hard bargainers, that we are doing it in the spirit of partnership. That we are making sure that it is all done in a way that strengthens the relations between the media property, the client, and of course the agency.
Here are some tips to making sure you or your media planners are showing the love to the reps:
- Join the team. The first secret is media planners and media reps are actually on the same team. Make friends with them. Don’t beat them up as though they’re your adversaries. Build a collaborative relationship with your reps that makes them your ally in the good fight. They want your online campaign to work as much as you do, more so if you have a cancellation clause in your insertion order. If the buy doesn’t perform, you can cancel and move the dollars to something else. It’s not a huge loss for you, just part of the optimization process. For the reps, however, it can be huge. Their commission goes flying out the window.
- Ask reps for ideas. When you send them a request for proposal, always ask for new and special things they might have or tactics they have seen work for other advertisers. They will often come back with something new or something you haven’t thought of. Remember, the folks who work at these properties are online media experts too and have a lot of exposure to things that work and things that don’t work.
- Turn the tables. Even though it isn’t 1999, we still get nice cards, lunches, and even an occasional dinner from reps. How many of you return the favor? Make sure you send reps holiday cards, thank you cards, and even take them out here and there for a job well done.
- Holler back. OK, so it’s hard to speak with every rep in the world and you don’t have to tell them everything you are working on. However, make an effort to return their calls, hear their pitch, and meet when you can. Reps remember that you at least took the time to return their calls. And how else are you going to build your rolodex?
- Tell them no. Sound strange? Well, it’s actually not – if they worked hard on a proposal or request for proposal and didn’t make the final cut, at least have the courtesy to send them a sincere letter telling them that they didn’t get it and thanking them for their time. I know it’s bummer news for them, but at least you are letting them know what’s going on. I cannot tell you how many thanks we get for being proactive in this way and not just leaving reps in limbo. It also leaves the runners-up in the cue if more money comes along or you cancel something and want to try something new.
Remember that an agency’s relationships with media reps are a big part of why clients come to us. So, in addition to developing expertise and technology, one must not forget to cultivate good media rep relations!