Getting Ready to Buy Media? First, Ask Yourself These 5 Questions

Media buying only looks easy.

To someone new to the media buying process, it can feel overwhelming trying to figure out markets, prices, and other factors. Making sense of legacy media, like TV, radio or newspapers, was hard enough, but the newer digital media landscape has added even more terminology and complexity to the buying equation.

As a company owner or a top manager, you can try to learn the lingo from scratch, but it’s easier to turn to trusted media consultants who have been buying media for so long.

You will still have input into the final decision-making, but at the same time, you can trust them to handle much of the media buying strategies while you keep a handle on the big stuff involved in keeping your company going strong.

Remember, as 19th-century merchant John Wanamaker once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

For those considering larger media buys, continue reading these useful tips to help you think of ahead of time or discuss with your buyer to make sure effective – and affordable – buys are made that present your brand in the best possible light.

Learning these answers can help you feel good about their representation and ultimately help you get the word out about your products or services in the most efficient way.

1. Define what your audience does

This goes beyond basic demographic info like age, gender, and financial info, but figuring out optimal opportunities to get your message to them. Where do they spend much of their time? What do they do before or after work, or while commuting? Do they like reading the paper every morning, or listening to the radio or a TV newscast? Do they read headlines on their phone or tablet first thing every morning or before they go to bed? Do they listen to podcasts when exercising or in the evenings? All of these answers  can help guide your plans for the media buy.

2. How do you define the success of your upcoming buy?

Every company – and every consultant – may utilize different methods to measure the success of a campaign or buying effort. To a business, the ultimate metric is sales/money in the bank, but there could be other positive indicators that you’re connecting the right people to the right message, or there are areas that need to be improved. Corporate Finance Institute, which offers educational resources for businesses, suggests starting with five key areas using  the SMART goals concept – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic/relevant and timely.

At the same time, it’s easy to get distracted by vague, general or irrelevant numbers, whether you’re doing your own research or someone is compiling them into a long report. Focusing on the true successes in the media buying process can help you focus on the more vital key performance indicators, or KPI.

3. Learn about your media buyer

Since this person or firm is advising you on where and how to spend your money, it’s important that you get to know them and build trust. What’s their media experience? What are some past campaigns they’ve worked on? What successes have they seen? What adjustments did they make to a campaign that started out slow? What do they know about your target markets or audiences? What do they suggest for future growth?

4. Plan your outreach options

If your buyer wants to focus on digital-only, find out why. If they want to avoid digital, find out why. If they want a more integrated approach, which is usually the smartest path, find out why. Your buyer should also be able to work with you on other elements beyond basic “air” purchases. Can your commercial also go on your social media channels? Do you need more social media channels to reach your target audiences? Any local offline efforts like signage? Should you look into streaming audio or video? Although it’s tempting to start small and test the waters, one campaign or media buy at a time, your consultant may suggest thinking bigger about ways to expand your audience with general brand-building and awareness.

5. How flexible are you and how flexible is your buyer?

Are you comfortable with listening to their suggestions and are they comfortable with yours? If they seem like they only want to focus on one channel at a time, what will happen if you want to try several at once? Or if they only specialize in certain services, are they willing to try something new? Can they customize certain services?

Since the modern media market is moving and evolving so quickly, it’s important to find consultants who are creative, eager to collaborate, and willing to try new avenues with you. A media consultant may know the technical details of the media buying process, but they also understand  they have a vital role in your success. Essentially, you’re investing in a person or firm to help you with the heavy lifting of the buying process, so look for people serious about their goals, and yours.

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