“Customer centricity is a new focus in media, and we’re not doing that well yet. We don’t have metrics across the customer journey, and we need to start tracking it. The data is there, we just need to understand how to use it to show customer value and ROI.” – VP Business Operations & Strategy, pure-play digital firm
The customer is ever-changing. But is media keeping up with the changing customer? This was the big question presented at Alexander Group’s Leadership Series Media Advisory Council (MAC) held at the 2019 Executive Forum in November. As advertiser needs and demands diversify, publishers are scrambling to figure out the sales motions, solutions and data that can evolve publisher-driven customer campaigns into the new realm of value-driven customer success. What truly defines customer success? Executive leaders from 30+ top media ad sales organizations discussed their current challenges as they look to transform from simply selling products to becoming trusted advisors to customers.
The New Customer Relationship
Customer retention has long been a focus in media ad sales, especially the past decade. However, as advertiser demands continue to evolve, so must the way sales and marketing interact with the customer. Publishers must shift from sales generalist models to a new paradigm with multiple sales and support roles providing each customer with a unique, value-added experience. The new collaboration develops the capacities between sales and marketing, known as “sales motions,” and seeks to improve customer experiences and drive retention and growth.
Deeper customer knowledge throughout all stages of the buyer journey is not only necessary for success, but is critical to remaining competitive. Sales management faces difficulties in determining which resources to deploy and how to do so efficiently. This requires product-savvy sellers across all platforms, product specialists and the addition of pre- and post-sales roles. But it doesn’t end with just having the roles. Knowing how and when to deploy which resource to which customer is the real game changer.
According to an executive vice president of sales from a leading integrated print organization, “We face this issue every day. The challenge is the complexity of roles. It takes a lot of bodies to service pre- and post-sale effectively.” Urgency is also a factor. To deliver a unique customer experience, firms must take action swiftly and prioritize activities that align with growth initiatives. And with many publishers investing in new emerging revenue streams, having the funds and resources to invest in these initiatives can be challenging.
Big Data Has Changed; Client-Centric Is In
As advertisers become savvier and demand extensive campaign reporting to determine a more precise ROI, investment in automation and client-centric data is paramount. Per a senior vice president of sales, “We can’t bet on just big data. We need to be very specific with our data solutions with clients, not just measurement studies.” Evolving data solutions create a new avenue for publishers to deliver value to the customer. But it all starts with understanding how to position data as a tool. According to a chief customer officer, “We need to better monetize our data solutions without giving it away for free.” However, participants agreed that the biggest challenge is how to derive value from customer data and how to effectively translate this value to advertisers to deliver impactful ROI in custom campaign solutions.
To create a unique customer experience, media ad sales firms are investing in additional resources to respond to new advertiser demands. From new sales specialists and support roles, to better campaign tracking and reporting capabilities, multiple touchpoints throughout all stages of the buyer journey are vital to develop a value-add partnership for customer success.
Interested in becoming a member of the Media Advisory Council? Visit our MAC page for details on how to participate.
For more information on Alexander Group’s Media Ad Sales Practice, please visit our industry overview page.