10 Things Every Media Buyer Should Do

This list was inspired by a piece from Television Week’s Media Planner column. It was a list of new year job resolutions for 2007 that I've kept on my desk ever since. So now I've added my own spin - enjoy!

1. Be media neutral.
You love TV. Or magazines, public radio, outdoor, whatever. Not everyone else does. So don’t just recommend media that you love and don’t spend hours negotiating great TV rates while accepting the rate card of the local magazine. It’s not fair to the client!

2. Use your reps.
But not in a bad way. Use them for their knowledge and experience. They likely have had clients similar to yours and they may give you tips that will make you a rock star. So take time away from your oh-so-busy day to actually ask for their opinion and advice. I’ve won business by taking their advice.

3. Be nice.
No one likes mean people. Unless you’re one of those guys that love bitchy girls (never understood that!). I’ve instated a “be nice media buyers” policy in my agency’s media department. We don’t yell at reps. We don’t make unfair demands. We approach problems by asking, “How can we fix this?” rather than, “How could you let this happen?” Again, I’ve won business by being easy to work with and fair. Notice a common thread here?

4. Be organized.
Unfortunately, this advice is more of a “do as I say and not as I do.” My desk is pretty cluttered right now. But by the end of the week, everything will be in its place and filed. If you are organized, you’ll have no trouble covering your little butt if something goes wrong. In the media world, something always will!

5. Call your reps.
Email is awesome. But we all know that sometimes written communication can be misconstrued. Just call your reps when there is a problem and talk it out. And call them on their birthdays. It will make you their favorite media buyer and that will get you better rates (seriously).

6. Watch a lot of TV.
Who could ask for better homework? You can be a total couch potato and it’s considered proactive research. With hundreds of programs to choose from, you’re bound to find something you enjoy. I never knew how obsessed I’d become with the Food Network. And you know what, I made Tyler Florence’s upside down Cranberry-Pecan French Toast for my dad this weekend and it was fabulous! Benefits outside the office, too!

7. Learn to play golf.
It’s hard. Really, really hard and frustrating. But you don’t have to play well; a self-deprecating loser can be endearing. If you can’t play at all, at least learn the rules so you can be part of the group without slowing them down. If you’re a chick, like me, knowing how to play golf will open doors and get you in “the boys club.” Plus, you get to ride a golf cart and drink beer.

8. Read constantly.
But thoroughly. I tend to engulf any material that comes my way, only to later have the reference on the tip of my tongue when I could have really wowed someone if the knowledge had just flowed out like a river of wisdom. Missed opportunities suck big time. Oh, and read stuff other than business books. Need help? Oprah’s book club. New York Times best-seller list. Amazon.com. There you go. No excuses!

9. Educate yourself.
No, you don’t have to get a masters degree (unfortunately, I’m 30 credits deep). Just make sure you know all about the latest and greatest. Don’t know what Twitter is? Figure it out. Don’t know what Hulu is? Figure it out. Media buyers and planners need to be up-to-date.

10. Send Christmas cards.
This goes back to #3. If your agency doesn’t already do this, go find some generic, politically correct cards and send them to all your reps. It’s thoughtful and creates good feelings.


Ben Kunz said...

Great list. I would add No. 11, predict and measure results. It's a great way to set your media planning group apart.

Most media planners still rely on impression forecasts, GRPs and CPMs. But if you can predict response rates and number of customers generated from advertising dollars, you'll get the CEO's attention.

PS -- we're usually nice. Usually!

michelle marts said...

We've had a similar conversation here at Kidd. It's hard not to rely on GRPs, CPMs and all those traditional measures. But I agree that measurable results (relevant to the client's biz) are the most impactful - and clients understand those better. Who cares how many impressions you get if no one actually buys!?

The problem then is - what if you don't deliver on your promises? (gasp!) Was it a result of bad media planning? Bad product? Improper pricing? I can control how many GRPs I buy, but not how many products get bought.

I think you end up putting yourself in a very real position to fail. But if you can't deliver on your promises, then you shouldn't be getting paid anyway, right? Can

PS - Being nice really should be my number 1, I think. But not soft - no wussy buyers allowed!

michelle marts said...

*not sure where the "can" came from. Sometimes I type too fast and add extra words! lol