Making Your Story Come Alive

In our last column, we addressed the issue of building audience quality. How? By investing in market research that enhances your understanding of your users and builds your ability to create targeted inventory.

This week we’ll be looking at how to take that information and put it to work in building compelling pitches for advertisers.

Earlier in our series, we noted that advertising success begins with understanding how an advertiser thinks about her market. The key to building an effective pitch, however, requires being able to make the connection between what the advertiser cares about and the audience that your site has attracted.

This point was brought home to us in a survey we recently completed with media buyers. In the survey, we asked them what interactive reps do well, and where they could use some improvement.

On a scale of 1 to 5 where 5 is the high score, media buyers rated a rep’s skill at explaining how their site meets their client’s needs as a 4.50 in importance. However, when asked how well reps perform that function of their jobs, they gave them only a 3.31 in performance.

Media buyers also rated “understanding my client’s marketing objectives” as a 4.19 in importance, and gave online reps only a 2.88 in performance.

These gaps emphasize the need for advertiser-focused, consultative thinking, a well-thought-through and targeted pitch, and last but not least, a commitment to ongoing rep training. (BTW, the full results of this survey can be found at our web site.)

Let’s compare the components of two advertising media kits to make the point a bit clearer.

Kit one provides four pages of tables and graphs that share every bit of demographic information the site has about its users. The pages regale the reader with the age, income, and occupational make-up of their audience.

Interesting? Slightly. Compelling from an advertising perspective? Definitely not.

The media buyers and clients we talked to in our survey field dozens of calls, hundreds of emails, and untold number of pounds of snail mail a day. They don’t have time to ferret out the relevant information in pages of tables and charts. This type of kit (all too common) suffers from a self-referential perspective — the publishers think the nuances of their site are fascinating and they’re sure their readers will think so, too!

Kit two organizes its pitch around its products for three distinct user audiences: IT professionals, Internet developers, and systems developers.

The kit then goes on to support its claim to reach each audience with a handful of select but powerful data points. In other words, they did the work for the clients and the media buyers by spelling out the story for them and providing them with specific and defendable reasons to believe. It doesn’t overwhelm readers by inundating them with every piece of information available; instead, it presents only the data that supports the point at hand.

So remember, think like an advertiser (or media buyer), make it easy for people to make the connection between your site’s audience and their needs, and package it intelligently but simply.

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