Selling advertising to businesses to support the media dates back to 1704, when the first newspaper advertisement was sold. Radio followed soon after, and by 1923 advertising was a regularly part of its programming. All the media have since followed the pattern, with the Internet being the latest to seek dollars from businesses.
The people who make it happen are called media sales executives, media sales reps, advertising reps and many other titles. The job is the same, though, whether in the local, small-town media or working for CBS, Time Magazine or Google—selling a business on the idea of spending money with you to gain more money in the end.
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Finding new clients is the beginning of the sales process for a media sales executive. Prospecting is done by examining which businesses are advertising in competing media, searching for newly opened or expanded businesses and by matching the demographics of the media audience with the like-minded demographics of a business. Prospecting includes identifying the client, gathering information about him, initial contact and the appointment setting.
Needs and Campaign Design
The goal of the first appointment with a prospective client is to determine his needs through a series of questions designed to probe for his problems. A media rep looks for such things as new merchandise that is incoming, old merchandise that is not moving well, overstocks, grand openings, expansions and any other reason to promote the idea of people buying what the merchant is selling.
Often the media rep will come back for a second appointment and present a planned campaign that is designed to match the need and the available budget. This includes dates, saturation of the medium, campaign style and costs.
The media rep is responsible for closing the business owner or her representative on the media campaign. Objections have to be overcome after the presentation is finished, and negotiations accomplished over potential changes to one or many aspects of the proposed campaign. A contract is presented for approval and signature.
Sales reps at smaller media outlets are often involved in the production of the campaign, either through writing the finished copy or overseeing the production to ensure that it is as promised. Larger media companies have specialists who do this in accordance with instructions from the sales rep.
Once a prospective client becomes one in reality, the follow-up is very important. The media rep is always looking for ways that the client will benefit from more advertising. This includes staying in close contact and involving the client with various proposals that will spark an interest and desire.
Keeping the paperwork and information straight and properly filed is a very important part of the media rep's tasks. For instance, knowing that a client ran a successful Independence Day Sale last July gives a reason to call on him in April to begin planning another one. The previous budget figures and nature of the campaign provides the media rep with much of the work for the next one already accomplished.
Media sales executives at all levels are almost always compensated with some form of salary, commission and bonus. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, in 2010 those working in a small market can start in the low £13,000s annually for the first few years, while those who work at the national network level make well over £65,000 per year. Because it is a performance-based income, the stress level is often quite high.
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