Advertising Guest Columns
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Opinion: The ‘great advertising deal graveyard’ and how to avoid it

There is a place where many great advertising deals go to die. Once they were pipeline diamonds. Target busters. They were commission earners. They were the talk of the publishing sales floor, but now they are just a memory.

Where did they go and how did they end up there? More importantly, how can media sales teams ensure that the next great deal doesn’t end up in the same place?

There is a point in every great advertising deal’s life where it needs to switch from being an exciting vision shared by a salesperson and a marketer and become an actual campaign signed off by a committee of buyers. Too frequently, this is where so many great ad deals die – this is the ‘great deal graveyard’.

Why are so many advertising deals not closing?

Part of the problem is that great ad deals are no longer simple – a series of print ads and some inserts are a distant memory. Today’s advertisers are looking for new and innovative ways to engage your audience across several platforms. What’s more, they expect transparency, measurability and a healthy ROI. As solutions get more complex, so does the advertiser’s decision-making process. A great campaign now touches an awful lot of people within your advertiser’s business. Many won’t be marketers. They all come to the conversation with a different view point, a different set of experiences and a different set of objectives. Some might like your proposal but most will be uninterested and at least one is going to say that it’s a bad idea.

The numbers say it all:

Senior publisher players are seeing this change first hand:

Fergus Gregory Group Commercial Director at The Drum: “The number of people involved in decisions, and consequently the amount of time to get a deal across the line, continues to increase.”

On average there are now 6.8 people involved in every ad buying decision and when it comes to complex multiplatform advertising or marketing solution deals, the stats are no different. The likelihood of your proposal ending up in the ‘great advertising deal graveyard’ increases by almost 20% as soon as another stakeholder is involved. Once there are 6+ stakeholders involved, the chances of it avoiding the graveyard fall off a cliff.

The impact of more decision-makers

You are not only dealing with 6.8 different people, you are dealing with 6.8 people who are paid to have different perspectives. How much do Marketing, Finance and Tech tend to agree on within the average publishing business? Not much. It’s exactly the same within your advertiser’s business. When they do get together, they quickly look to find something that they can agree on. Unfortunately, normally, that’s to avoid risk, save money and not change.

So, how do we avoid the graveyard?

The obvious answer is that we need to tailor our solution so that it appeals to each stakeholder individually.

But research from the CEB shows that when you attempt to tailor your solutions to multiple stakeholders, you are likely to exacerbate the differences between them and they will revert to their common denominator: avoid risk, save money and not change.

So, what’s the answer?

Chris Daniels, Automotive Sales Director at Haymarket says: “With more decision-makers involved it is taking a far more collaborative approach with the key stakeholders to get the deal across the line quickly.”

To quote Brent Adamson: “You are not looking for a collection of ‘yeses’ but a collective ‘yes’.”

The trick here is not to try and tailor your solution for each stakeholder, but to identify and articulate a challenge that the entire group can identify with before presenting your solution as uniquely placed to overcome it.

A CFO will not be interested in an expensive, complex marketing campaign just because it has some fancy new targeting capability. She will only sign it off if she sees how it will overcome an underlying challenge for the wider business.

Rachel Middlewick, Strategy and Planning Director at The River Group says: “Listen, understand the true business needs and focus on offering an outcome; be seen as a true partner who cares about solving a challenge. A deep understanding of your client’s business and the market that operates around it, is the only way to secure sustainable business relationships.”   

While the ‘great advertising deal graveyard’ will continue to grow, that doesn’t mean that any of your deals have to end up there.

Paul Cruise, Lead Trainer & Coach of Flume Training  @Flumetraining

About Flume: Flume are the PPA’s Sales Training Partner. They drive sales performance through high impact training, coaching & consultancy to the publishing, media & events industry. They believe the way clients buy has totally changed and what works in sales will never be the same. Through challenging the conventional approaches to both sales and sales training, Flume help businesses rapidly increase revenue and maximise the return on training budgets.

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