7 Reasons to Hire an Ad Manager
Updated: May 6, 2020
Over the years I've had the privilege of working with publishers possessing a wide range of backgrounds. Some are seasoned veterans of the publishing industry while others are entrepreneurial desktop publishers with no previous experience. One thing that they all have in common is that the success of their business is hinged upon well managed advertiser relationships. Even for publications that have a strong subscriber base, advertising represents a critical contribution to cash flow and the health of that flow is a representation of the quality of relationship the publisher provides to those partners. For those who get it right, advertisers not only appreciate the quality of service but they also begin to see the publication as a critical component of their business' success. With that in mind, I've compiled Seven Reasons that a Publisher should hire an Ad Manager.
1. Minimize Opportunity Cost of Sales- Whether you personally drive sales or have a team of sales personalities, using your sales heads to manage the relationship with the advertisers is costing you dearly. Every activity you ask of your key networkers represents time away from that most valuable activity: Selling. What's worse is that, by having your sales team manage the ad development and placement process, you inadvertently create a time penalty for selling each additional ad. Every new ad sold represents a time commitment to continually manage that account. Eventually, the sales rep will reach a critical mass where the time to manage the relationship with an advertiser is substantial enough that it significantly hinders the selling process, thus creating a dramatic slowing of new business development. Assigning the task of managing the design process with the client and the ongoing communication to a dedicated team frees up the sales rep to stay focused upon selling. A well planned Ad Management program will create a simple hand-off dynamic wherein the account is sold and then immediately introduced to the Ad Manager to 'take it from here'. Then sales can rinse and repeat.
2. Protect Your Designers- Finding quality designers is like capturing wild horses. What they do is beautiful and majestic, but their spirit and creative inspiration can be easily broken if they have a bad encounter with a client. Unfortunately, many clients don't understand the value of promoting the creative capacity of a designer. Rather, they tend to be very demanding and, in some cases, demeaning when a proof isn't exactly what they envision. A good Ad Manager understands the dynamics at play here and will act as a necessary insulative barrier between the design team and the client. Much like a bilingual translator, the Ad Manager learns how to listen to what the client is saying and translate that into design speak that the designer can execute upon. What's more, when the client feedback is less than positive, the Ad Manager will deliver only the necessary communication to the designer so that they can make the appropriate revisions to gain client approval. Most importantly, a truly effective Ad Manager will help direct the attention of a client AWAY from the layout and look of an ad and help them to focus, rather, on language and ad copy. By doing this they allow the designer to be creative and do something unexpected while opening up the advertiser to be more receptive to various interpretations of their ad. An Ad Manager will help an advertiser to stay in line with the rule: An ad is 10% how it looks and feels and 90% what it says. Design is the hook, language will close the deal.
3. Provide the Community Your Clients Long For- There's one thing that's even better than great customer service and that is feeling a sense of inclusion into a vibrant community. Each publication is representative of a community of people that have a common interest which brings them together whether it's golfing, traveling, raising a family, bicycling or living in a particular neighborhood. Bottom line is that an advertiser is looking for a way to gain entrance into that community and you, as the publisher, are the gatekeeper. At the end of the day you aren't just selling ad space on a page. You're also providing access to your community. An Ad Manager should be the daily face of that community; someone who is welcoming and will help your advertiser understand what your members look for. By creating a deeper customer experience, having an Ad Manager allows you to broaden that sense of connectedness that your advertisers will feel towards your publication. When it comes time to renew contracts, it's a lot easier to walk away from a business relationship than it is to walk away from friends.
4. Elevate Your Design Game- Hiring an Ad Manager can help you to get better ads. This is quite possibly one of the most understated values of an Ad Manager. While an Ad Manager is not a designer, the most effective Ad Managers have a strong understanding of design language, layout, and brand messaging. An Ad Manager can take the input from a client and communicate to the designer in a way that facilitates the best possible ad, many times challenging a designer to deliver higher quality designs. Moreover, an Ad Manager will help your business to take a proactive approach toward advertisements. By having an Ad Manager evaluating your current ad portfolio and then attacking the lower quality ads for improvement, over time the look and feel of your publication will realize a marked increase in quality. Many of the publishers we've worked with over the years have expressed that this has actually elevated their confidence in their magazine which translated into stronger meetings with prospects and a higher closing ratio. Additionally, every publisher struggles with the ratio of content to advertising. No one wants a publication that feels like a book of ads and having mediocre quality ads only exaggerates this problem. When the ads are stunning, however, they can have the effect of actually enhancing the content and driving a sense of exclusivity. It's like the difference between selling ads into the Dupont Registry of Luxury Homes or the local dime real estate staple bound newsletter.
5. The Value of a Second Set of Eyes- I once read that in the 1890's the New York Times required every staff writer and editor to read the entire paper, cover to cover, before going to print. The idea was that the paper should be perfect. They did this everyday. Running a private publication is much easier in the age of the desktop publisher, however, having an Ad Manager can help to ensure that your ads get the extra attention that they need to ensure accuracy and quality. An effective Ad Manager will spot check your final print proofs to ensure that every ad is accounted for and the appropriate changes are reflecting. YOU WANT THIS... I dare say, YOU NEED THIS. As we all know, if you miss something, your advertiser will let you know once they see it in print.
6. An Ad Manager Can Create an Upsell Opportunity- Running a publishing business exposes one to a variety of opportunities. Unfortunately, few publishers actually realize these opportunities because they lack the savvy to expand and sell a feature beyond the basic ad space and a freshly designed ad. When you have a team of talented individuals under you who can execute upon your directives with a client, however, you are then at liberty to take on a deeper consultative marketing approach to the relationship you have with your advertisers. I recently took the time to introduce our entire team of Ad Managers to the Story Brand method of marketing and we started talking about this with the publishers we work with. Many immediately leapt at the possibility of offering consulting services and sought to obtain their Story Brand certification. With an Ad Manager who understands a brand script, a publisher can then monetize an entire stream of services that build up to the actual ad in print. This can include consulting service, brand scripting, logo and graphic design, and the final execution of the advertising agreement. Each of these represent dollars that are otherwise left on the table. Having an Ad Manager in your back pocket enables you to execute the on the very concepts discussed with the client. This is next level... almost agency level publishing, but when you arrive there, it's the difference between being a handyman and an architect.
7. Deadline Management- Deadlines. I could almost stop there. We must all be crazy getting into a business that can be this demanding and on a deadline. Depending upon your level of organization, you either thrive upon wrapping up your deadline or it is the bane of your existence. You know who you are. Having an Ad Manager can help you to thrive. Effective Ad Management means having a process plan in place that establishes exactly how to approach each deadline and then effectively communicating the deadline requirements to your advertisers in a way that doesn't stress the relationship. We've learned over the years that every client handles the reality of a deadline in a variety of ways. Some easily integrate it into their schedule. Some push back hard, demanding every last second before approving an ad for print. Others disappear entirely... ergophobia we think. And then there are those procrastinators. You need to be able to effectively manage each of these... actually, your Ad Manager needs to be able to manage each of these, with your support, of course.