The Great Budget Chase.

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The Great Budget ChaseSince The Drift is primarily aimed at the sell side of our industry, I tend not to get very many comments from ad agency execs.  But I’m hoping what I write today will ring true with agency leaders and that a few of them might take the time to respond.  If you feel so moved, perhaps you’ll forward this to someone who runs an agency or a major account to see what they think.

The subject today is budgets.  Most of the sellers and sales organizations I work with are in constant pursuit of the digital ad (or mobile or video or DR) budget.  Media planners are constantly saying “we haven’t gotten the budget from the client yet.”  After a short silence, we hear that the elusive budget has arrived, but is far smaller than anticipated and has already been allocated.  The seller then balls up his fists and curses either the fates or the duplicity of the agency.  But I think both the approach and the reaction are ill-considered and cheap.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Bionic Advertising Systems, an advertising technology company focused on delivering innovative software that streamlines and automates media workflow for marketers, their advertising agencies, and publishers.

Instead, let’s look at it from the agency’s perspective.  Relatively few sellers put in much time and effort before the budget is set and the planning process is in full swing.  A few of us will “check in” from time to time:  Any budget yet?  No?  OK, I’ll check back later.  Others will quiz each other at events or on Seller Crowd with questions like Does anybody know if a budget’s been set on the AT&T Wireless business yet?  As soon as a budget does materialize, sellers begin to swarm like so many five-year-old soccer players around the ball.  Now that you have the money and are as busy as you’re going to be all year, how about seeing me and hearing my story?  

For every thousand sales people who show up to help an agency spend an existing budget, only one or two ever talk about helping the agency grow budgets or tap into new ones.

The dirty secret is that many media agencies operate on razor thin margins. The way they get healthy is by getting existing clients to spend more with them than initially planned.  Sellers are in a great position to help them if we just step out of the box and start to think creatively about all the budgets and pools of funding that are in play today.  Shopper Marketing.  Promotion.  Retail Co-Op.  Compliance.  Research.  Public Relations.  Branded Entertainment.  Social.  Video.  Mobile.  There’s a guerilla war going on among agencies, consulting firms and other service providers who are constantly raiding one another to steal away budgets through creativity and guile.

If you want to change the way you’re seen by a key agency, reach out to a senior executive and tell her that you’ve got an idea that you think may drive additional spending by one of her clients.  Also tell her that your organization is prepared to run the program or capability so that the agency doesn’t have to put any real staff time against it.

Now you sound like someone worth meeting.  Now you sound like profit.

Interested in the immediate future of digital video?  The next Upstream Seller Forum is happening on Tuesday June 24th in New York.  If you’re a CRO, EVP, SVP or VP of sales and sell to agencies and clients, let us know you’re interested and we’ll tell you more. 

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