Low Cost Marketing

You might be wondering why I’m predicting the end of my own business. Well, it’s not necessarily the end. It’s actually more of an evolution.

It all started recently when we compared the efficiency of one of our media buys to that of a series of distribution deals that were put into place for a client. For this particular client, the distribution arrangements were more expensive, but more efficient as far as the client’s goals were concerned.

When the numbers were sitting there in front of me on an Excel spreadsheet, and I was able to make an apples-to-apples comparison, I began to wonder…. “Hmmm. Perhaps I should have seen this coming and recommended that the media department assist the client in brokering the distribution deals instead of executing a media buy.”

At the time, I dismissed the thought. However, the opportunity to enter into non-media distribution agreements and other such arrangements has presented itself many times since. And in some cases, I’ve capitalized on it, funding the distribution deal under the media budget (with client approval, of course).

Content syndication, co-branding opportunities, CD distribution, distribution through ISPs all of these are great examples of non-traditional arrangements that could compete efficiency-wise with a media campaign. The trick is to know when to recommend a media campaign and when to recommend something else.

Does this spell doom for the interactive media planner? Heck no!

Let’s say a client is asking you to promote the trial of a free software product. Many planners immediately think of a media campaign with a cost-per-download pricing component. But what else can be done easily, cheaply and more efficiently? How about these suggestions:

  • Call up some relevant software magazines that poly-bag CDs with their pubs. See what it costs to burn your client’s product into the CD.
  • Speak to some ISPs and see whether the product can be included on their installation CD.
  • Register the product at all of the software download sites.
  • Open discussions with some of the major portal sites to see if they’d be interested in developing a co-branded version of the product for distribution to their users.
  • Speak with a computer manufacturer about having the product pre-bundled with its machines at the factory.

You might think that some or all of these are the responsibility of the client’s marketing department. However, I would argue that there’s no better person to broker these types of arrangements than an interactive media planner.

Think about it.

  • Media planners are familiar with a product’s target audience and typical user. We know what they like to do in their spare time, what they like to read, what types of things they do in their leisure time and more. This knowledge is extremely valuable in brokering the types of deals above.
  • Media planners have lots of industry contacts. We can set up negotiations, create relationships, and bring opportunities to our clients that they may not even know exist.
  • Most of the arrangements listed above don’t make sense unless they are evaluated in similar fashion to evaluating a media proposal. Cost, demographics, psychographics, audience composition, coverage and content synergy are all relevant. Sound like any of the media proposals you’ve evaluated recently?

I’m not saying that interactive media is dead. Banners still work. Text links still work. Rich media rocks. And sponsorships are ramping.

What I’m saying is that there are alternatives to online media campaigns that can be more efficient in some cases. Planners have a responsibility to know when to recommend a media campaign to a client and when to entertain other ideas.

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