How to present to an ad agency.

If you work in advertising (and even more so on the media side), you have attended MANY vendor presentations. Sometimes they are from media companies who want to show you why you should be buying space on their sites, or partnering with them on content creation. Some are measurement companies, social dashboards, app developers, Facebook community managers, the list goes on and on.

I’ve sat through hundreds of these presentations and have brought many of my friends’ companies in to speak to my colleagues. So here, from my experience, are the best ways to present your company to a room full of advertising people (in no particular order).

  1. BRING FOOD (I know I said these were in no particular order, but this is the most important). Seriously. If you want harried, overworked ad people to come and listen to your pitch, the least you can do is feed us (or give us beer. Or both). Bonus points go to vendors who bring in interesting or unusual food. We eat a lot of pizza and sandwiches. My friend at OnSwipe once brought us Chinese food. That was a good day. 
  2. Bring examples. As much as we want to learn the ins and outs of how your platform, technology, app, service, etc is new and exciting and different, what we NEED to hear is how it’s being used. Not how you think people should use it – how are people actually using it. Tell us about other agencies that you have partnered with, what client bought in, and what they did with it.
  3. Show results. Like above, tell us what really happened! Too often vendors either present case studies that are so new and fresh they don’t have results, or they can’t/won’t share the results, or they don’t even have them because they are compartmentalized away from the broader marketing.
  4. Do your homework. Find out who our clients are ahead of time. If you know we work with Pizza Hut or Ford, come prepared with some ideas about how you would use your platform for those brands. If those teams are in the room they will appreciate the ideas.
  5. Get a sponsor. It’s always a better presentation when someone inside the company is helping to bring you in. They can round up their friends, tell people about the presentation, etc to help get a better attendance. They can also remind people about it later when they want to use your product/service.
  6. Be patient. It’s rare that a vendor comes in, shows off their stuff, and we have an immediate need for it. More likely, if you make a good impression we will remember your offering when we are concepting and then give you a frantic call about how we need your help right away.

What else? Anyone want to chime in with some other ways vendors can make good impressions on agencies (and don’t say give us free stuff like Xboxes or ski trips – that only happens at media agencies).

“Here’s $2 and a chance to win a vacation” – The most effective marketing you’ll see all day.

two dollars.JPG


This is what greeted me today as I left Back Bay Station on my way to work. A guy was handing out these envelopes to anyone who passed by announcing “Two free dollars and a chance to win a vacation.” I’m usually in the camp of people who would prefer to pepper spray anyone who attempts to talk to me, or hand me anything, on the street, but I figured, two bucks is two bucks.

And as you can see, it was a real two dollar bill. and a real chance to win a vacation (I didn’t win).

But ask me about the last banner ad I saw? NOTHING. The last banner ad (or “OLA” as us in the advertising world like to call them) that I can remember was a home page takeover of the NY Times, where the “I’m a Mac” and “I’m a PC” guy pulled a lever in a unit on the right-hand side, and it changed the headlines on the leader board banner at the top. And that was probably 2008.

Not only did I tweet and Facebook about this promotion, now I’m blogging about it. Well done TNT Vacations.

In order to find out if you won the vacation you need to enter your email address. How many address will they collect today? The guy handing out the envelopes had a big stack. And he had probably been there for a while already. Multiple that across a few cities and you have a nice email recruitment effort. A nice, CHEAP, recruitment effort. Even if only 1 in 10 people check to see if they have one, it’s still only a cost-per-acquisition of $20.

Compare that with average click through rates of .05% for display ads and it seems to me that you need to run A LOT of banners to get that same person to take action. Granted, there is no opportunity for storytelling here, no brand-building creative, they didn’t change my perception of TNT Vacations (although they did make me aware of it, so that’s pretty good).

I often wonder, when my clients tell me that want to spend millions of dollars on banner ads, whether or not it would be more effective to simply pass out money on a street corner.

If anyone from TNT Vacations (or their parent company Funjet Vacations) is reading this and want to get in touch and share some data, I’d love to see it.

Just so you know, banner ads used to be A LOT more effective:

BEHOLD: The First Banner Ad Ever – From 1994

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