Becoming an effective outdoor advertising salesman
Selling OOH services requires deep knowledge of the advertising concept of DOG (demography, orientation and geography), which the Outdoor Advertising Association of America refers to as the advertiser's best friend.
As an out-of-home (OOH) advertising practitioner for several years, I have done my work with utmost professionalism and had the opportunity to manage a good number of international and local clientele. Over the years, I have witnessed a lot of transformation in the industry, notably since the turn of the 21st century. The transformation has made it imperative for the outdoor advertising salesman to rethink his approach. (Salesman is used generically in this article to refer to both male and female practitioners.)
Alvin Toffler, American sociologist, writer and futurist, wrote: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Toffler's provocative comment is, nevertheless, pregnant with some important lessons. The 21st century economy is a knowledge economy driven by technology, competence, personal development, networking, customer engagement, and service delivery. It, therefore, behooves any OOH advertising practitioner to constantly learn new strategies, unlearn the tired and ineffective ones and keep relearning.
Even if you are not a professional in the advertising industry, consider the current economic downturn in Nigeria and try to imagine what the impact has been on utilization of OOH campaigns. High inflation has reduced purchasing power of consumers. Job losses, delayed payment of wages and non-payment of contractors have combined to diminish disposable income and cut consumer spending. Therefore, this is not the time for suppliers to discuss rates. This downturn calls for far more effective
In marketing, customer lifetime value helps to predict the value a business will derive from its entire relationship with a customer.
salesmanship. The OOH professional needs to create solutions to reach his client's target audience and achieve their campaign objectives.
While outdoor advertising entails above-the-line marketing communication activities, which are focused on the mass audience for the purpose of brand awareness and recall, strategic salesmanship is required to optimize OOH marketing communication channels under the current economic circumstances more than ever.
Selling OOH services requires deep knowledge of the advertising concept of DOG (demography, orientation and geography), which the Outdoor Advertising Association of America refers to as the advertiser's best friend. A good knowledge of the DOG principle facilitates decisions on matching site locations with consumers, using the appropriate OOH platforms, among others. It is pertinent that the astute OOH salesman understands the importance of DOG in the context of outdoor site planning so as to appropriately target the right mix of advertising campaigns. For instance, a billboard for a luxury brand would be mistargeted if placed along a thoroughfare leading to a low-income part of town.
The right positioning for the client, combined with differentiation brought about by good service delivery metrics such as site management, pre-campaign and post-campaign reporting, and good ethical practices are qualities of a professional salesman. The ethical conduct of the salesman must be aboveboard. Some of the ethical considerations for the salesman should include providing verifiable proof of performance, timely placement of client's campaign, routine updates to client throughout the duration of campaign, and transparent billing of the client.
The transformation in out-of-home advertising has made the industry more competitive than it used to be. There are myriad platforms and innovations that are available, and making decisions on which platforms and providers to use is
often not easy. There are also regulatory issues to contend with. A good salesman is, therefore, one that shows deep understanding of the regulatory environment as well as the emerging technological trends that are enhancing OOH advertising. Most clients would prefer to commit their businesses to the salesman with strong understanding and appreciation of the marketing communication value chain.
Competence is needed to achieve success in a crowded marketplace such as outdoor advertising. The competent OOH salesman is entrusted with client servicing, proposal development, operations and accounts management responsibilities. The salesman should also be able to play an advisory role concerning budget allocations. All this requires continuous personal development by learning new trends in and outside the industry.
Gaining the loyalty of the client is also a metric for judging the achievement of the salesman. Strategic initiatives, such as incentives and bonuses, can be designed to support the client's marketing communication goals. Some incentive schemes could include offering extended timelines beyond the contractual period for the campaign. Incentives could also come in the form of offering additional locations at no cost to the client so as to enhance customer lifetime value (CLTV). In marketing, customer lifetime value helps to predict the value a business will derive from its entire relationship with a customer. In other words, CLTV is the dollar value of a customer relationship. The concept of CLTV encourages companies to shift from fixating on the minimum cost of acquiring customers to the long-term value of the customer relationship.
While developing the client base for my organization, we introduced some incentive schemes to attract patronage. The scheme was tailored to offer bonus campaign opportunities for brands across all the retail locations that had our LCD advertising screens. The scheme paid off and we were able to recruit a multinational brand, which became one of the early adopters of our OOH services. Strategic outdoor advertising salesmanship requires evaluation of the market and designing schemes to attract and retain client's patronage.
Selling outdoor advertising to clients is a business-to-business (B2) activity, which necessarily requires considerable networking. A salesman worth his salt develops a network across the industry, building relationships with media agencies, contemporaries and clients – past, present and prospective.
Stakeholders such as Advertisers Association of Nigeria, Media Independents Association of Nigeria, Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria and Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria should also be strategically targeted to be in the network of the far-sighted salesman.
A vacant billboard