By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
There’s no extra cost to have professionals handle your media placement work.
As your external advertising budget grows, eventually you’ll want—make that need—professional help in setting and managing the entire media placement and buying process. Let’s say your your healthcare organization has an advertising plan that covers several broadcast media, with scheduled flights starting and stopping according to a well-considered marketing plan.
Keeping track of an occasional media purchase is a small distraction for the office, and you can usually handle that without help. But when you grow to a significant advertising budget—with amazingly complex options and six-ga-zillion details—it makes a lot of sense to use a media buying service.
It works like this…
Media buyers or buying services work something like travel agencies. The media placement that they purchase for you earns a fee (for them) from the print or broadcast media. Typically, they buy at a discounted or trade rate direct from the media. So there’s no added cost to you.
But it’s better than free.
If you’ve got a good firm working for you, they’ll save you money. Their overall buying power (your account plus many others) in the media may earn other special rates that the single “retail rate” advertiser never sees.
As a result, your media budget goes up to 50% further. Because they know the media intimately and all the complex options that are available, they can help you make smarter choices. A good service will negotiate favorable rates and this will be more effective than what you could do on your own.
Here’s the rub: Finding the right fit for you.
All that sounds pretty sweet for you. But the problem is that most healthcare businesses will usually have a tough time finding ANYONE to take their business. The big companies only want giant/national budgets and won’t return you phone calls. If they are a small outfit, they’ll be all over their biggest clients and, at best, you’ll be treated like an incidental step-child.
You want to find a successful and experienced company or consultant to partner with; one that delivers results from your overall strategic plan. (Fortunately, we know just such a firm… but more about that below.)
Here are some guidelines to finding the right fit for your needs.
A good service will devise an individual plan that fits your target, budget and objectives. What any media really sells is exposure to its audience, and knowing precisely who-is-where is more of a science than you might realize. Media Planners and Buyers use research tools, surveys, audience analysis, (plus their experience) to focus the audience numbers into an efficient and effective plan.
They will walk you through the process as well as recommending what media to use, when and how often to run, etc. You’ll learn about ratings, reach and frequency. It’s very much a numbers game, so learn the lingo and study the reports you’ll get. (Combined with your internal tracking of results, you’ll eventually want to make adjustments to improve results the next time out.)
Generally speaking, most services work with a range of media—radio, television, outdoor, newspapers, online—and can plan and execute local, regional and national plans. But look closely before you decide; they are not all the same.
Consider size. You’ll be better served with a company that’s not too big. Although they may have some advantages, you risk getting lost in the stew of many other clients. Look for and expect personalized attention and service. You want a professional business that will spend your money like it was their own—and deliver results at strong value.
Look for experience. Being good at numbers and keeping score is not the same as being really smart at playing the game. Some media buyers are young and skilled at math and Excel spreadsheets. They may be missing the experience of knowing and doing what works best. Talk with the person who will do the work, not just the sales person at the front door.
Caution: a media specialist is OK; a “my-brand” specialist is not. Some media buying companies are media-specific… only print or radio-only, for example. Depending on your needs, that might be a plus for you. But beware, there are some “planning and buying” services that pretend to be independent, but only push the media exclusive to their portfolio (one or two publishers) or media that you don’t need or want.
Help sorting it out…
When your media budget needs supervision, a buying service can be a good resource to your Strategic Marketing Plan. We’d be happy to help in your selection process. It’s not easy. After having worked in this area for many years, we’re lucky to work with a service that not only does a great job, but respects their clients with quality service and performance.