Local Media Companies are Running Out of Time

By Adam Burnham, Senior Vice President, Interactive Sales and Services at AffinityX.

Local media companies are running out of time. Please don’t take that as a death knell (despite their well-reported struggles). What I mean is their employees actually need more time in their day, their week, their year to succeed in a highly competitive environment.

William Penn once said, “time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” Time management may elude many of us in our professional (and personal) lives, but it especially impacts an industry that is continuously under pressure.

The digital age was obviously a sea change for companies dependent on local business spending, such as newspapers, cable TV, local TV, and radio. They’ve had to reinvent their core revenue and content distribution models. Most have expanded beyond their “legacy” advertising revenue model, offering local businesses advertising and marketing services based on non-owned media such as search engine marketing, Facebook advertising, and targeted display ads across the internet. These services may be lower margin than core media products, but they must be offered to stay relevant and compete for local budgets. Today’s advertisers can turn to many different sellers (both in-person and do-it-yourself online) beyond their local media rep, unlike the past when those reps had a virtual lock on the market.

Additionally, these media companies are challenged in hiring, training, and keeping digital-savvy salespeople. Not every media salesperson can successfully migrate to selling new services, and there are many companies — even Google and Facebook — competing for the best digital sales reps.

So that brings us back to the time problem. As local media companies rush to keep pace by offering the latest and greatest digital marketing and advertising services, they often fail to understand the impact that selling five or 10 products, instead of one or two, will have on their operations and sales teams’ time and effectiveness. The workflow required to get something new into the market and then process and fulfill orders can be a nightmare. It’s complexity that most media salespeople can’t handle in the limited time they have each day to research, generate leads, sell, and follow-up. That complexity is only getting worse with the arrival of “shiny new objects” like OTT, people-based campaigns and programmatic audio ads that require new types of creative and reporting metrics.

If you are tasked with growing digital revenue, what’s the solution? You need to create more time for your sales and operations teams across the five key advertiser touchpoints of sales — onboarding, fulfilling, supporting, measuring success, and renewal. Building this all internally is often out of reach financially. Not to mention that working with multiple partners across this lifecycle and managing multiple workflows and multiple reporting systems ends up crunching your time further. Do an honest assessment of your internal capabilities and roadmap, and look for a partner who can fill the gaps now and as the market changes.

A few key questions to ask as you assess your next steps:

  • Sales: How much are we willing to invest in training? How will we differentiate our offering vs. others in the market when we are all selling basically the same tactics?
  • Onboarding: How will we know if we’re doing it well? How do we make it seamless when selling multiple products and services?
  • Fulfillment: How will we ensure consistent design across channels? Can we shift budget easily across channels during the campaign to optimize results?
  • Support: Who does the advertiser, and our sales team, talk to when things go wrong? How will we manage seasonal volume spikes?
  • Measurement and Renewal: Do we have a sufficiently deep understanding of what metrics advertisers will require now and tomorrow to build flexible dashboards? Are we able to create reporting that helps advertisers (and our own sales team) understand what to do next?

Don’t misuse your time or that of your teams. Invest that time upfront by asking the right questions to gain dividends for years to come.