High tech agencies embrace industries and lexicons that are changing every day. If media salespeople, media buyers and clients pooled their marketplace knowledge, they might all perform better.
"It will take openness on all three parts," said Dianne Hayashi, media supervisor at Hyett, Broadbent & Heimbrodt Advertising, San Francisco. "There's a lack of common knowledge on everyone's part."
Agencies draw information from clients, clients' competitors and outside market research organizations. Media salespeople could locate the most suitable prospects, tailor their product and make a stronger sell by studying that same information.
"Unlike consumer markets, in high tech it's a good thing for the sales folks to have an opportunity to communicate with the client," Ms. Hayashi said. "It's a great opportunity for reps to understand the client's product and marketing needs so they can serve both the agency and the client better."
The more information agencies have, the more room they have for creativity.
"Now we're talking about people in the agency," said Bob Stein, account supervisor at Bozell, New York. "The more they know about the client, the more they can determine what magazine and what categories to look at. I like it when the customer gives me as much information as possible so I have a broader palette to work from in terms of coming up with ideas."
In the IntelliQuest study of high tech agencies, more than half said media salespeople are only somewhat aware of high tech companies marketing needs and category position.
Agencies and clients are aggravated by repeated calls from those media salespeople who have no understanding of high tech clients' markets.
"They have their own agenda to sell space whether the book fits the client's needs or not," said Larry Rosenfeld, president of Stackig Advertising, McLean, Va. "A lot See Resource, Page A-18
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haven't done their homework. They're off-target and they don't listen. They don't realize they aren't the right book and they continue to harass the client."
"Account people probably don't give [media planners] all the information they need," Mr. Rosenfeld said. "They don't always provide the in-depth information that they should."
"With all the databases available, they should do what we do," Mr. Rosenfeld said. "Call on Lexis/Nexis and find out everything you can about a client. Then you can go in and talk intelligently about their needs."
Information may be the industry's most powerful tool, but in-depth data can also add confusion.
"Sometimes [media salespeople] don't even know what to do with the information once they have it," said Mr. Stein. "They're focusing on the pinkie and I'm working on the hand. They just want to know how many ad pages I'm buying this month."
Media buyers and planners have an insatiable appetite for client market data. Without it, they would be paralyzed.
"If you don't have basic information about who the product targets and who the competition is, you really have half the information to produce a fill-in-the-blank," Ms. Hayashi said.
Changing media salespeople's mentalities, however, might be difficult because they know they can make the sale without thorough knowledge of the market.
"They are focused on the sale," Mr. Stein said. "They don't really need to know a lot about what's going on with the client's business. It's helpful, but not crucial to perform their jobs."
In the IntelliQuest study, about half of the media buyers and planners said better information regarding clients' markets would improve their efforts.
About one-quarter put better media information at the top of their wish lists.
Because of the specialized nature of the industry, many high tech agencies are small and lack full-fledged media personnel.
"The bulk of the agencies don't have professionals doing this," Mr. Rosenfeld said. "That's why you see the account people making a lot of the media buying decisions."