How to better support your partners by helping them tailor their content to your audience.

By Elaina Hundley

When discussing advertising opportunities with new partners, it’s important to remember that that the placement is only as good as the content. A publication might have great reach and the ad might be highly visible, but if its boring, an eye-sore or not speaking to the needs of the readers, it wont perform. Weve all had an advertiser that submitted an unattractive ad or one that didnt make sense for the audience. As a sales manager, it’s not your job to dictate the marketing or design strategy for an advertiser—but an ill-conceived ad is not likely to generate the results they are looking for, which can impact their decision whether or not to renew.

When it comes to your platform or publication, you should be an expert on your audience. While the advertiser with might be a leader in their industry, category or at least their product or service, they might not know exactly what will most resonate with your readers. Sometimes approaching the topic of how to develop content that will grab the attention of your audience can be tough, but it can save you and your advertiser a wasted placement, in addition to helping build a stronger relationship. So we thought through some simple ways to support advertisers in this particular challenge in tactful, proactive and respectful ways.

Start Early

Even in your initial conversations with an advertiser as youre pitching some opportunities, it can be helpful to cite anecdotes of content pieces that seemed to work best from other advertisers. By offering concrete examples from the outset, you not only help clarify their goals and highlight the value of your placements (reach, visibility, etc.)—its also a great way to remind them that a top competitor advertises with you!

Repeat & Be More Specific

You mightve mentioned some examples in those early pitching conversations, but more than likely your advertiser won’t remember when the start of their campaign rolls around. At the same time, you want to be careful not to boss them around or make them feel like you dont think they know how to design an ad. Instead, take the time to walk through deadlines, discuss ad specifications or word counts for sponsored content (here is a great place to mention article titles that have performed well) and remind the advertiser of your audience once again.

Continuously remind your advertiser that youre there to help! By making your willingness to answer any questions or brainstorm with them clear, you can subtly open the door for them to request insights. When it comes to ads, most advertisers will have a plan in place. But, depending on your industry, things like content marketing and other more unique or trendy options will have your advertisers asking for guidance. If they ask, its even easier to help!

Use Deadline Reminders

When youre reminding an advertiser of a deadline, don’t be afraid to mention once again that you are there to answer questions and support them as they formulate ideas. If an advertiser is stressed about a submission, they should latch on to your reminder of support. My rule of thumb is to be a little extra supportiveduring the first year or first contract with an advertiser. Once you have a rapport with a company and a sense for what type of content they regularly submit, you may be in a position where you can help them fine tune it OR youll have the peace of mind that they consistently submit relevant materials. 

Do your best to provide specific and strategic content guidelines for your advertisers. If they submit something that really takes off on your platform, everyone wins! Sometimes its as simple as opening the door to questions and brainstorming support. Providing content support is another way to make your company stand out and provide top tier customer service. It also emphasizes that youre not just looking to make money, you care about your advertisers success.

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