Why Our Customers Advertise

by Joe Rafael

We have turned another page and are embarking upon a New Year, which leads me to ponder our current media marketplace.  Again, we have been burdened with a continuing tough global economic climate. Our media industry is still in transition, changing rapidly into digital and e-based solutions, with print properties struggling to create a well-balanced integrated package that effectively puts the advertisers’ messages out.  Selling advertising has become a complicated balancing act.

One of my first thoughts during this reflection is how much we as advertising salespeople get caught up in the minutiae of recommending one advertising vehicle  or another rather than the substance of the message itself as it relates to our particular audience.  It seems in this cost-conscious environment we worry more about cost of delivery than we do about the message and perception we want to create and convey.

I ask our salespeople to always keep in mind the question, “Why do successful companies advertise?”  Is advertising a luxury and a waste of budget in this current economic marketplace?  Or, is advertising fundamental to growth and success of a business?  These are questions that we must return to and answer to reinforce our commitment to grow and prosper our organizations.  Again, it might not be about the way our customers advertise but the reason they advertise to our audiences and the message  they want to send out.

Why do successful companies advertise?  They advertise to brand, direct, inform, entice and procure interest for their product and/or service.  We ask, is it fundamental to our clients’ business?  Only if they want to survive today’s marketplace.  Why else would long established companies such as Coca-Cola continue to advertise and spend the amount of money they do on a product so well known internationally?  Whether our clients rely on brand advertising or direct response, the only way they can convey their value proposition to their potential customer base is to market it to the right people.  Advertising opens the door, makes the phone ring and creates online opportunities.

The most important and practical back-to-basics approach is to be more concerned with the message the advertiser wants to relay than the method of relaying it.   What advertisers accomplish with the right kind of messages about their companies and services is to create a perception in the minds of their potential customers.  That perception becomes the customer’s reality.  We emphasize to our salespeople that an advertiser may have the most insightful, cutting-edge technologically advanced product or service, but if the perception of value is not there, neither will the sales be.  

We as salespeople must be a conduit to our audiences, and we must not be fearful in expressing our thoughts and reservations about the advertisements we place.  When the decision is made to advertise in our media vehicles, we have entered into a partnership as an extension of our advertisers’ marketing departments.  We owe it to them to give the best possible advice we can so they can get the most favorable results for their advertising investment.  We must help our advertisers make their messages count to create a solid value proposition.

These days, it is too easy for salespeople to get caught up in the many competing media options. I contend that, until we agree that we need to get back to the fundamental understanding of why customers advertise, we cannot be any value to them much less to our own business.  Why else would successful athletic coaches and prominent business leaders, always in times of concern, voice that “we need to get back to basics.”     

May this 2012 bring you all the promise and accomplishments of your projections and goals.

Joe Rafael is Western Sales Director of James G. Elliott Co., Inc.