Doing the Biz Dev Tango: Part II

Last week I discussed the move toward more agency involvement in the business development process. As more and more of the dotcoms are coming on the scene with little or no prior online advertising experience, the online agency is being asked to serve as the client’s resident expert for how to best assess that which gets put on the table for a business development buy.

But the dance can be tricky sometimes. Agencies have relationships with clients and sales reps at a site. Business development personnel have relationships with clients. Clients have relationships with agencies, sales reps, and business development personnel at a site. Some publishers have both sales reps and specific personnel do business development, others have their functions separated. Clients sometimes have marketing managers do advertising, and brand managers doing business development Well, you get the picture as to how complicated it can be.

So, how do you move gracefully across the floor without falling down or stepping on toes if you and your agency are getting involved in these kinds of deals?

First, be very clear with the client about how you are going to proceed with this endeavor. This may be new to the client, and they may have certain expectations of what should be included in such a deal. They may even have an opinion about how negotiations should take place. I’ve done deals like these in several instances where the style of negotiation was very much at issue.

Be sure you have laid out for the client how you intend to approach the site, what you are thinking of asking for, and what your negotiating tactic will be (if you have one). That way no one is surprised.

Then, go to your day-to-day sales representative at the site. The representative you deal with on a regular basis, or who is assigned to the agency or client, should be brought in first. They are your first and best resource for what opportunities are available on the site. And if they do not know, they can point you in the right direction.

Next, either through the sales rep or someone from business development, get as many ideas on the table as you can. Work closely with the site to get as many regular media inventory, sponsorship placement, and content integration components on the table for consideration as possible.

Go through the same process as you would during a brainstorming session. “White board” every idea you’ve got, and categorize them as ‘response mechanism media’ (your basic banners, buttons, text links, text flags in email and the like), ‘awareness/branding media’ (rich media, sponsorship placements, branded HTML enabled email, ‘beyond the banner’ stuff), and ‘content integration.’

This final category can often times be the most difficult to quantify for the agency, as it is generally the purview of brand managers.

The first two components can be evaluated qualitatively and quantifiably the same way most all media buys can. Apply the same principles of projective analysis for the response mechanism media. Will it pay out?

For the awareness/branding media components, ask the questions, does this stay true to the objective? Is it on strategy?

The content integration component will most likely require the client’s input, as the advertiser will most likely be responsible for producing it.

Once the pieces of the puzzle are identified, put together two or three different packages that represent varying levels of engagement and, thus, varying spending levels.

Once you are confident with what you’ve put together, present the options to the client. Have the representative from the site present with you. They are your partner in this, and will be able to address some of the client’s questions than you, as they will know (or should know) the site more intimately than you.

At this point, you’ve made it through the first round and arrived at the cafe ‘La Giralda’. It is very unlikely that what you end up with will look like what you presented, but the process has begun. Now there will be back and forth with the site as to what can be tweaked.

Maybe the client wants another placement that is already occupied by another advertiser. Maybe they want a different (read: “lower”) rate. The client may even what to take over from here, feeling comfortable with the packages that were put together and being able to use them as a touchstone for moving forward.

It won’t all be smooth, and for sure, if it’s the first time you’ve gone down this road, you will probably not do it “right.” But not to worry, La Cumparsita is still being written and this is your chance to contribute a line or two.

What ever happens from here, you’ve demonstrated you are an invaluable asset to your client, and you’ve contributed to beefing up your agency’s core competencies.

Here endeth the dance. Ole!

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