Demand More Value

So things are slow right now and the economic forecasts show no sign of improvement. You have two choices – read the news all day long and wallow in the negativity or take advantage of the opportunities that volatility creates. No matter how bad things get people will still buy things and will seek out businesses that can provide a great value. At the same time, you need to demand more value from your partners and suppliers as well.

For the foreseeable future the supply of advertising inventory will significantly exceed demand. Consumer spending is down, advertisers are pulling back, and there are more options available than ever before to communicate with customers. For the intelligent marketer this is actually good news because it means you have the opportunity to squeeze more value from every dollar you spend*.

As you begin negotiating your advertising contracts for 2009 here are 5 things you can do to maximize your investments:

1) Demand lower rates.
The simple truth is that supply exceeds demand. The political spending is over and every other category is down. Even online spending forecasts are being revised downward. If your media partners are telling you that rates must go up, it’s time to find other partners.

2) Expect added value.
Most media vendors have plenty of incentives they can offer you in addition to paid inventory. Ask for features, sponsorships, preferred placement, bonus advertising, promotional opportunities, third-party partnerships, links, mentions, category exclusivity etc.

3) Expect preferred placement.
We’ve all heard of under-booked airlines, hotels, and cruise ships offering free upgrades to passengers. As a loyal advertiser you should expect the same type of VIP treatment from your media partners. Ask for larger ads, higher traffic locations, higher-rated programming, better daypart rotation, or prime positioning at no additional charge.

4) Expect more favorable terms.
Avoid restrictive contracts. The market is turbulent and you need to remain agile. Getting locked into anything restricts your ability to rapidly adapt to changes. Make sure that all contracts can be revised or canceled with reasonable notice. Ask for discounts for timely payment i.e. within 15 days, 30 days etc.

5) Expect better service.
If you only hear from your sales reps when it’s time to renew it might be time for a change. A good salesperson should keep you informed about your campaign, offer ideas and research, and care about the success of your business. Let them know what your goals and expectations are and ask for their ideas on how to get there.

Please note – this is NOT about beating up your partners. A strong working relationship with your vendors is essential and will pay dividends. At the same time, it would be irresponsible to not take advantage of the opportunities that a slow market creates for advertisers. If you do not raise your hand and ask for these incentives then they will go to someone else. Ask nicely and be sure to remind your sales reps that any extra value they can provide now will come back to them in the form of increased budgets as your business grows.

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