Media Strategist: Steve Carter

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Steve Carter
Title: Media planning supervisor
Company: The Martin Agency
Location: Richmond, Va.
Key b-to-b client: United Parcel Service of America
Years in media business: 11
Most unusual media placement in the past 12 months: Sponsored an online “Friends” quiz on MSN Entertainment that coincided with the show’s May finale
Top trend: “We’re looking at new ways of connecting with people, whether it’s satellite radio or more Web-based things.”

Steve Carter, media planning supervisor at The Martin Agency, believes you can’t target the marketing message to the right audience unless you first understand the business.
So Carter, whose sole account for the past four years has been United Parcel Service of America, didn’t just walk through the company’s delivery and logistics operations a few times. He also donned UPS’ signature brown uniform and spent a day as a driver of its ubiquitous brown delivery trucks.
“I got to wear the cute shorts and I worked very hard that day,” he said. “We really have to understand and live their business.”
Before focusing on UPS, Carter worked on such b-to-c accounts as Geico, CareerBuilder, TV Land and Nick at Nite. However, he likes the challenge of b-to-b, both in trying to segment audiences and then quantifying that the messages are hitting home.
“You’re trying to reach some very finite audiences. Getting stable research—that is challenging,” Carter said. “We want to know that they’re just not reading it or watching it but are really involved in it.”
On the creative side, UPS‘ evolution from a domestic package delivery service to a global logistics company has spawned the taglines “What can brown do for you?”, introduced at the 2002 Winter Olympics, and the more recent “Synchronizing the world of commerce.” On the planning side of the equation, the company’s growth has meant tailoring its message in integrated campaigns for four distinct markets—shipping managers, front office personnel, corporate executives and small businesses—and defining what those taglines mean for each group.
“There’s no more cookie cutter,” Carter said, adding, “UPS requires such a level of customization.”
“We’re much more sophisticated about targeting over the years,” said Carter, who declined to explain his media placements, citing competitive concerns. “Each of our targets is very individual and distinct, and has its own goals.”
Still, he remains a believer that mass media placements will remain part of the strategy, largely as a means to initiate contact with potential customers and lay the foundation for a more vertical strategy. And Carter said they can’t get a much better mass media vehicle than the UPS truck. “The trucks are a daily reminder of [a customer’s] relationship with their driver, which is probably the best advertising there is. It’s free media. You can’t beat that.”

 —Mary Ellen Podmolik

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