Language is the most important means of communication for human beings. It has been, it is, it will be. Besides verbal languages, we have non-verbal languages such as sign language, body language and so on. Without a language, no communication is possible.
When a pharmaceutical company hires a medical representative, it makes sure that the person being hired is conversant with the doctor’s language; because a doctor cannot be convinced by a person who does not speak his language. When an engineering company hires a salesman to sell its equipment, it makes sure that the candidate selected is well-versed in the engineering industry.
How do media houses hire people to sell their advertising space or time? There are two types. One is the owner who does not want to invest in fresh people. Instead, that person looks around and finds a person who has already proved himself in the field. That recruiter is the one who believes in fresh talent (which is really a good thing considering the number of unemployed graduates around).
Unfortunately, the good intentions of the latter don’t go much further because such media owners haven’t recognised the need for professionalism.
They hire fresh graduates and push them into the field with one-line brief: ‘Go and get some ads’. These poor freshers who have had no exposure to marketing and advertising move amongst advertising professionals without any direction. Worse, they don’t even know the language of the advertising agency, media planners or the product managers at the advertises’ office.
They have been told that their job is to get some ads. So, they visit advertising agencies and advertisers and start asking, quite literally, ‘give me some ads’.
Some of the other demands which one often hears from media sellers are:
How about an ad? (just like that).
Give me an ad. My job is at stake (it happens about once a week).
You handle so many products; you must give something to us too.
I saw your ad in X. Why was it not released in our publication or channel? (occurs about once a day )
What should a media owner do to avoid getting himself the image of a “scrounger”?
First, recruit people with a marketing and advertising background. In the case of fresh graduates, please provide them with adequate training in marketing and advertising. It will eliminate to a large extent the re-occurrence of the scenario mentioned earlier. When a media seller makes a fool of himself, it reflects more on the media owner than on the person himself through sheer ignorance.
Media owners must familiarise their representative with the media planning process in an advertising agency; so, when his representative visits an ad agency, he can speak the media planners’ language.
A good media seller, in my opinion, is familiar with inter-media comparisons. He is the one who understands the target audience for his client’s products, understands the nature and seasonal patterns of various products. And above all, he is thoroughly familiar with the singular characteristics of the medium he represents.
Unless media owners understand the need for talking to advertising professionals in their language, they will continue to be in a difficult situation, as most are today.