After four decades in advertising and media, I’ve seen so much in terms of how marketers behave, create impact and productivity. I’ve also seen how an advertiser can create value in media: it’s not always the biggest spenders that get the most from their investment.
Clout provides a degree of privilege in marketing spend but small- and medium-sized spenders can carve out an advantage if they behave differently.
The biggest bites
Let’s take a look at the US market: the top 75 advertisers take up 23% of advertising spend, according to a 2021 Nielsen report. The next 225 only represent 23% of adspend – the next 700 represent an additional 8%. The rest of the market (those below the top 1,000 spending less than $20 million) represent 46% of the market.
It’s a massively long tail. Small and medium sized companies own a larger share of the market than you may think. It’s logical for a seller to think that having bigger clients with huge spends makes you more attractive to media partners. It’s easier to find, prospect and sell one advertiser that will spend $250 million a year versus finding 10 partners spending $25 million a year.
Small spend – big impact
Being a smaller spender looking up at the spending giants is difficult and intimidating. You need to find your selling point, an angle that helps your brand develop a solid position to punch above your weight and get the most from your media partners. Here are five instant tips I’ve learned through my career.
- Have an open plan of what you’re trying to do
Establish your priorities and how you’re going to accomplish them. Share this vision with your agency and media partners. Eliminate mystery – make your goals simple, specific and clear.
- Be famous for innovation
Compensate for not being the largest spender by being that brand people want to work with.
- Be that brand that pushes to do that new idea
- Trust your media partners to do what’s best when painting with their pallet
- Media owners value brands that trust them to leverage their platform the best way and not micromanage the content
- Make sure what you innovate is scalable, don’t just do stuff for the hell of it; a fair amount of your work needs to be scaled and expanded when it is successful
- Reward success
Make sure you reward (both monetarily and with praise) your success. Build in incentives to exceed your business goals; pay your agency and media platforms bonuses when they succeed
- Select a comprehensive group of partners
Work with people that help you stay motivated but don’t turn you into their cash cow. This includes agencies, technology companies, research companies, trade and many more. Ask specialists for help in areas where you’re not an expert.
- Expand your network
There are many benefits to being an active member of the community. We’re all busy but there’s no better way to share and learn from others, motivate your partners and grow as a professional. The only way to do this is to expand your network.
It's important to have a clear idea on mechanisms measuring success including business and relationship metrics. Small- and medium-sized spenders can create an advantage for themselves in the industry if they laser in on that unique selling point and leverage opportunities through networking. Good luck.
Ben Jankowski has 40 years’ experience working both agency and brand side, working at Grey and MediaEdge/ WPP, MPG/ Havas and for most of his career Omnicom agencies. Ben moved to lead the paid media specialty for Mastercard, helping Mastercard become a top 10 brand (according to Brand Z).