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Breaking With Tradition

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As we continue to plan and replan strategy for 2009, the media community must not follow the norm. Traditionalist buyers need to look beyond their purist ways and actually be, well, creative.

On both sides of the desk media people who in better economic times would simply take orders must now go out and actually create their opportunities.

In many ways, it appears that some of us have been stifled by recessionary metrics. Now, more than ever, sticking only to "tried-and-true" business practices spells "dead and buried." Let's strive to make a clean break from our old ways and proactively make changes that improve client services and what we should begin referring to as the "strategic sales process."

During the past two months alone we've experienced a huge increase in calls from prospective clients looking for innovative options for media planning and buying. They can no longer afford the traditional agency model approach. Over the same time we've had illuminating discussions with media sellers that previously had just taken our buy orders, but now are willing to actually invest time and imagination in our clients' goals.

Being creative can mean partnerships, integration and public relations stunts, to name a few ideas. The reality is that these will probably work for companies that are also looking for added-value opportunities. As much as these media organizations need to drive ad revenue, they also need to look for ways to reinvent and grow their brands with less cash.

On the rare occasion in the past when marketing and advertising sales attempted to work together, the process typically became riddled with idle asks and no real upside revenue potential.

Times are very different today. We must force this relationship to work for our collective benefit. While seemingly a reasonable request, let's face it-as much as ad industry executives want to change or be progressive, they tend to get pulled back into the large media company mind-set or a personal sameness rut. But not pursuing or forcing creative sales/buying strategies will surely hurt now and in the long term.

There are a few things to keep in mind. First, clients rarely have the large budgets that are required to accomplish what they want via traditional paid media plans. Second, we all must look beyond the numbers. It may hurt and possibly we'll be viewed as crazy, but take a chance on quality. Consider creative avenues that will significantly increase the value of the plan beyond your client's spend-it will pay off in both the short and long term.

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