Ten Ways to Strengthen Relations With Your Media Reps

Every once in a while I like to remind myself, our industry, and of course my team how important it is to maintain strong relationships between media buyers and reps.

Don’t get me wrong, reps know my team drives a hard bargain. They understand that we, like all other agencies, represent the client and their interests. Yet they also know that my team appreciates the hard work they put into formulating programs that will work for our clients.

When it comes down to it, reps will fight harder for deals for the buyers they like and respect. You need to acknowledge the work that a lot of people do to make your agency more successful. So this column is about things you can do to show gratitude to your reps for all the hard work they do for you. These tips are based on things I’ve heard reps talk about, things we try to do, and things we’ve discussed doing. Remember, you can attract more flies with honey. (If you are a rep and feel we aren’t doing at least the basic things here for you, my apologies. Please let me know.)

  • Be polite. Return calls and e-mail, even if you aren’t in buy mode. It only takes a couple moments. It will help reps do their job to connect with media buyers, acknowledge their effort to reach out to you, and give you both the opportunity to get into each other’s contact list.

  • Acknowledge their value as educators. Sales reps are the continuing education professors for media buyers. They keep us in the know about all the new placements and technologies in the pipeline. Admit it, media buyers: How did we learn about all this stuff that we recommend to our clients? How did we amass much of the information that makes us experts in online media? We got it by letting the media reps give us their dog-and-pony shows. We got the information from the source, which is exactly where we should get it from.
  • Help their careers. When a rep comes to visit your city with her boss or her boss is in town, throw her a bone. Even if you are busy and not in buy mode, this is a critical time when you can really hook your rep up with a favor that doesn’t include singing an insertion order. Hey, we all want to look good in front of our bosses, right?
  • Share the awards and celebrations. You know all those award shows you attend to celebrate your campaign’s success? Think about inviting a rep or two who helped bring that creative ad unit to the world. Thank them for being a part of what made that nomination or award possible.
  • Send a holiday card or gift. You know all those gifts and cards you get from the reps? What a nice surprise it would be for them to get one from you.
  • Take them out to eat. I’ve enjoyed many meals on the expense account of different reps. Again, what a pleasant surprise it would be if you offered to take a rep out — especially when you’re in the midst of a tough negotiation.
  • Throw a party. How about a little media party at your place to bring all the reps in to meet your staff? Of course we get to do this at big industry events, but this smaller get-together is about the reps just getting to know your staff and your agency and thanking them for their hard work.
  • Tell their boss. When a rep does a great job for you, was diligent and timely, and really came though, send his boss a note signing his praises. When a client sends me a note praising an employee here, it makes me feel good. And when I share it with that employee, it makes her feel great.
  • Don’t leave them hanging. Tell reps when you didn’t choose them and thank them for their efforts. It’s always a bummer to get a rejection letter or call, but it’s better than hearing nothing at all. Generally, reps appreciate when we let them know they didn’t make the final cut.
  • Thank them. This is the big one. Yes, we’re all doing our jobs getting the buy done, but after negotiations thanks all around are in order if you came out with a package that makes you and your agency look like heroes. So thank the reps when they go to bat for you.

The reality is that reps want our programs to be successful as much as we do — especially if there’s a cancellation clause. Show your gratitude for them being in your court and trying to create success for your clients. Reps are like anyone else: they’ll fight harder for and give better deals to people they like and respect. So make sure they like you and your team.

Join us for a one-day Online Marketing Summit in a city near you from May 5, 2009, to July 1, 2009. Choose from one of 16 events designed to help interactive marketers do their jobs more effectively. All sessions are new this year and cover such topics as social media, e-mail marketing, search, and integrated marketing.

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