In Part One of this series, we discussed what it means for a media planner to become fully immersed in his or her B2B clients’ business. As an extension of our clients’ marketing department, it is critical that we understand the intricacies of their trade, and take those into consideration while planning. It is our job to confidently make sound media recommendations that we stand behind, so this is a critical step in the process. After all, we’re responsible for their advertising budgets, so the more we know, the better.
On the other side of the coin, as planners and buyers we also must have a clear perspective and strong understanding of the B2B publishing landscape for each industry. While media kits and audit statements are certainly viable resources, it’s important that we investigate further into what makes a true media partner. In this article, we’ll once again draw from our experience and expertise in the B2B automotive space to illustrate our approach to cultivating the perfect (ha!) agency / publisher relationship. Here we go.
Step Two: Create Longstanding B2B Partnerships with Leading Publishers
As planners and buyers, it takes only a brief glance at our overstuffed mail slots and top-heavy media file cabinets to recognize how over-published many B2B categories really are. How then do we weed out the “me too” pubs from the industry leaders, so we can make strong recommendations for our clients? At McCulloch+Company, our approach begins with an in-depth study of every publication in a particular trade. Our Trade Media Analysis is the backbone of our publication selection criteria and includes the following pieces of information:
- Audit Data – paid or unpaid audit, publication circulation, publishing cycle and frequency, breakdown of distribution by a recipient’s position, job title and geography, longevity in the category, etc.
- Rate efficiency – unit rate, cost per thousand (CPM), effective cost per thousand (ECPM) against our target audience, etc.
- Media Value Rating – a weighted average and numerical rank of each publication in the category based on target coverage and rate efficiency
- Summary Overview of publication ranking and overall advertising value
Once we have a clear understanding of the major players in a particular category, it is our job to begin cultivating relationships with each of them. Enter our strategic planning event we call MediaSummit™. These face-to-face meetings are designed as an exchange of information and ideas between our clients and their key media partners. We at the agency coordinate and moderate these discussions, which often center around content, audience, industry trends, special advertising opportunities, sponsorships and digital capabilities.
In the B2B automotive space, we have coordinated many successful MediaSummit™ events for our clients AutoTrader.com, vAuto and Manheim. A co-branded “Best Dealerships to Work For” sponsorship with Automotive News was conceived at our in 2012 MediaSummit™ event, which exclusively positioned our clients as lead sponsors of this prestigious industry recognition program. The package included print, digital and on-site media exposure, as well as individual face time with each of the finalists at the culmination gala – the icing on the cake for our clients. This program has grown over the past few years, continuing to evolve and further reinforcing the leadership position of our B2B automotive clients.
Having a firm grip on the B2B publishing landscape is especially critical in the digital space. While some publishers are still in the Stone Age when it comes to digital sophistication, others are doing quite a good job in this arena – which speaks volumes about their vision of the future of media, and ultimately their staying power in the trade. AutoNews.com, for example does a fantastic job in the automotive space incorporating display, pre-roll and in-banner video, native advertising and channel sponsorships on their website; all the while, maintaining the integrity of their news content. Keeping abreast of new technology and digital trends has helped us create successful digital programs for our B2B automotive clients, some topping out at over 1.0% click-thru rate (CTR). Proof of performance in the digital world is also of the utmost importance, but that’s a much larger discussion for another time!
At McCulloch+Company we strive to align ourselves with industry leaders and continuously press the envelope. Publishing partners that are willing to walk the line and pioneer new and innovative media programs are partners worth having in our corner. It’s also important that we’re always a step ahead of the competition. We want that first call to come to us when the pubs are throwing around new media ideas, so it’s important we stay active and keep open the line of communication.
Lastly, the agency / publisher partnership, like most others is about relationship. The days of buyers strong-arming sales reps (and vice-versa) are gone. Ultimately it is about meeting our clients’ communication goals and increasing their bottom-line, so transparency and open-mindedness with our media partners is key. And, let’s be honest, free golf and tickets to the occasional Braves game doesn’t hurt either!
Stay tuned for part three of my approach to B2B advertising.