It doesn’t sound right, I know – especially from a St. Louis ad agency. You may be thinking: “If I stop buying ads, how will anyone know about me?” I’m telling you today: stop buying ads. At Kolbeco, we encourage clients to “Stop Doing Marketing Stuff,” the act of buying ads falls under the umbrella of marketing stuff. Instead, I’ll offer an alternative.

Stop Buying Ads and Start Building Media Partnerships

When I first got into this business, buying ads was about reach and frequency – determining what mix of outlets and programming would give the client the most exposure in their target audience for the right cost. Then we’d take a look at the value-adds and what the outlet was throwing in for free or discounting.

Is this still important? Absolutely. But it’s no longer just about the numbers.

Buying media has evolved into the act of building media partnerships. It’s not just about the printed word or broadcast message anymore. Here are some things to consider when planning and executing an advertising expenditure:

  1. How well does the outlet understand and embrace my business and goals? The partnership starts with your ad rep. That person should truly listen to your strategy, learn about your audience and grasp what you’re trying to accomplish. If you don’t feel connected with the rep, but want to explore the medium, ask for a new rep. Remember, this is a business partnership and you and your partner have to be in sync to get results.
  2. What does the medium have to offer? A good media partner will go beyond making recommendations for where and when to advertise, and which of their branded events you should sponsor. They will come up with creative solutions that fall outside the boundaries of what they already do and create something just for you. This may be an event. It may be the opportunity for you to create thought-leadership content for their outlet, or it may be outside support for your business or a community service endeavor in which you’re involved.
  3. What are all the moving parts and pieces related to the medium? How active are they on social media, and how well do they execute in that space? Does their tone and behavior match up with your brand? Do they put on events that are relevant to your audience? Do they sponsor events that are in alignment with your brand? Find a partner that is in alignment with the less tangible parts of your brand.
  4. Is there a personality or reporter who aligns with your brand, who gets your business, and wants to help you succeed? We’ve seen it time and again – when the personality clicks with the client, great things can happen.
  5. Are both sides truly viewing the relationship as a partnership? Partnership is a two-way street. It’s not transactional. Schedule ongoing meetings with your ad rep, and ask for occasional meetings with others, such as promotions managers, editors, and others who may be appropriate in the relationship based on what you’re doing and what you’re trying to accomplish with the outlet. Get feedback at these meetings, brainstorm ideas, be open about what’s working and what’s not, and create plans together to get you to your goals.

Article written by

partner/marketing visionary/Don Henley worshipper