How To Stay Ahead of Your Customers

Use leadership to get ahead of your customersA couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how Kimberly-Clark works to keep up with its customers by evolving its marketing to meet the ways their customers use information and interact with brands.

In our business, the sales and marketing of advertising, the customer-sales relationship is even more challenging; it requires leadership, not just keeping pace.

If you are not providing leadership to your customers, you will be relegated to the commodity media file. You’ll be the company that occasionally receives business when it suits your customer-base. On the other hand, as a leadership media company you’ll drive new business, win greater market share and expand your market.

This raises the questions: How do you, a broadcaster or publisher of advertising-supported media, stay ahead of your advertising customers? How do you lead rather then follow your prospective advertisers?

As leaders of your media company, editors and producers, publishers and advertising sales managers must be experts in understanding the information interests and needs of your market.

Recognize Your Strengths

Editors and producers seek to fulfill the needs of their readers and viewers, and expand their readership, by being so important in the market that they attract more and more readers. Beyond fulfilling needs, good editors lead their market.  They show their readers news and stories even before readers know they want them. The greatest service editor’s play is selecting, developing and publishing an important story before the readers go looking for it.

Whether your market is chemical engineers or upscale city residents or teenagers, the best editors understand what their audience wants and needs, and they provide it ahead of the need. Editors do it with instinct, with experience, with interpersonal learning and with research.

If editors are experts in what their readership wants and needs, publishers must be experts in how to deliver that content. In the last era, TV stations simply broadcast TV and magazine publishers simply published magazines. Today content companies deliver their content on multiple platforms: print, broadcast, social, mobile, desktop, out-of-home and even in-person. Readers, or viewers, may want different parts of your content delivered in different ways for use at differing times.

Business-to-business editors and publishers can lead their advertisers by being expert in the evolving ways their market gathers and uses information to make business-purchase decisions.

Consumer publishers and editors must lead their advertisers with new insights on how consumers, teens or millennials or seniors, seek inspiration and information.

How to Gather Leadership Information

  1. Have your editors talk to your advertising staff about how they understand readers to use media so that advertising sales team can communicate that vision to advertisers.
  2. Collect research on how people are using media that is published by others.
  3. Conduct brief video-interviews of readers and others in your market at live events such as trade-shows or community events.  Ask them what kinds of insight and information they seek and how they use media.  Edit those videos into a short presentation for your advertising prospects.
  4. Invest in quantitative research among your market on how readers use your media and how they’d like to use it in the future.

Then use this information to add value to your advertising sales presentation. Be sure your  presentation includes a section on how your market, whether it is surfers or seamstresses or sewer-workers, uses media for information, inspiration or insight that leads them to new purchases. And be sure your proposal includes media elements that logically flow from the insight you are providing to your prospective customers.

Delivering value in the advertising sales presentation is especially important when you are selling to influencers or real decision-makers as opposed to “buyers.” Only when you are bringing valuable insight and information about their market to the senior management of a client will they feel it is worth their time so see you. Investing in research on how your market, which is your customers’ market, seeks, accesses and learns new information and makes purchase-decisions is the magic bullet for elevating your ad-sales process to leadership status and to win more business.





About Daniel M. Ambrose

Ambrose, launched, corp. in 1994 to provide sophisticated strategy consulting and advertising sales training to advertising-driven media clients in the U.S. and abroad. Starting with the founding of and iVillage in 1995, has worked with hundreds of clients to help accelerate advertising revenue growth.