Working with advertising agencies doesn’t need to be adversarial. You are in charge and you can change your situation by changing what goes into your brain. Here are Four Keys to Improving Agency Relationships.
Don’t Assume the Agency Knows How to Buy Radio.
How effective would your local salespeople be if you just sent them out on the streets to sell advertising without a rate card or any instructions on how to build an effective schedule? Chances are they would come back in with an order, but not necessarily an effective order at the right rates.
Do you blame the salesperson for not knowing how to sell Radio advertising correctly? No. You understand that you need to teach your local salespeople how to build an effective schedule that will build enough reach and frequency to build audience awareness.
Advertising agencies are extra salespeople on your sales team. They work for you. You pay them 15% commission to sell your advertising.
Make sure you keep your advertising agencies up-to-date on new packages, new rate cards, coverage maps and station promotions. Do all your advertising agencies have a Radio station staff list with direct dial numbers and emails for your key department heads?
Teach your advertising agencies how to buy Radio advertising properly.
Understand the Game
Advertising agencies try to play the rate game with all media, not just Radio.
I’m reminded of a story a New York City advertising agency told me. They had fun messing with the Pandora reps when they came in to present. Pandora was asking for a digital rate, which was higher than a Radio rate. The agency said they would only give Pandora the Radio rate, because, after all, they were Radio. They went back and for with the Pandora reps just to have fun. So, when it happens to you, just realize they are trying to see how far they can push you. Don’t get offended, just realize what’s going on and know your limits.
Sometimes, the advertising agency hierarchy is incentivized to bring the advertising plan to market under budget. So, when the buyer tells you the Cost Per Point is $20, it’s probably higher.
ALWAYS REMEMBER THIS – A gross rating point on station A is the same as a gross rating point on Station B, even if station A has four times more listeners. A point is a point. The lowest rated Radio station can deliver points too.
Get to Know the Agency Team.
This is the most important Key to Improving Agency Relationships. By the time the media buyer contacts your station about “a buy”, all the decisions have been made. There is not a lot you can do at this point. They have a number of points to buy at a target cost per point. It’s too late to sell the benefits of your station. You need to get out ahead of the power curve for the next round of advertising.
You need to build an organizational chart for the advertising agency. Depending on the size and structure of the advertising agency, there could be several influential people you should know and work with in advance of “a buy” being placed.
The most influential person is the account manager. In some advertising agencies, the account manager is the person who sold the advertiser on hiring the advertising agency in the first place. The role may have different titles, but the person at the top of the responsibility ladder, the person who is accountable to the client, is the person you want to know.
Working with this person you will learn what the ideas and plans are before they start to take shape. This is the point in the process where you want to make the case for Radio before they start down the decision journey with other media.
Get to know the agency team. Find out what the schedule is. Get in sync with their time table so you can influence decisions early on, not when the media buyer calls.
It’s Your Client Too.
For the Radio Station / Advertising Agency relationship to work best for all involved, we must show respect for the advertiser’s decision to hire the advertising agency in the first place. But, it is your client too. The advertising agency is just that, an agent. They are not the advertiser. The advertising agency is working for you. You pay them a 15% commission to sell for your Radio station.
You should try to maintain contact with the advertiser because advertisers change advertising agencies all the time. The advertising agency may lose the client, but the advertiser is always your client.