Why You Should Never Trust An Advertising Sales Rep

Advertising Sales Reps Sell Institutional Advertising

What is institutional advertising? Here’s a definition: “Promotional message aimed at creating an image, enhancing reputation, building goodwill, or advocating an idea or the philosophy of an organization, instead of sales promotion.” (BusinessDictionary.com)

Institutional advertising promotes the name of the business and the brand but is not used to create sales. Large advertisers use institutional advertising to increase their name recognition and, hopefully, market share. With a larger market share, increased sales are expected to follow.

Most of the advertising we see everyday on television comes in the form of Institutional Advertising. It’s the big companies with household brands working hard to entrench their brand even further into our brains. While that may be an effective strategy for billion dollar, multi-national companies, it’s a devastating plan of action for smaller, local businesses.

Very few small business owners have a grasp on marketing. When they do advertise, they simply do the same things others are doing. Media salespeople do an excellent job explaining how advertising works when they’re selling the advertising. They also are great at explaining why an ad didn’t work. The number one reason: The business owner didn’t buy enough time or space. The number two reason: The ad wasn’t run for a long enough time period.

Beware of the Advertising Sales Representative

Ad sales people are not marketing experts. They actually do not know much about marketing at all. They have been trained to do one thing: sell ads. In that respect they are formidable. Ironically, most small business owners believe that ad salespeople are indeed marketing experts. Ad sales reps use this to their advantage and often help small business owners actually create the ads that will run on their network, publication, billboard, etc.

The entire system represents a conflict of interest. The goal of advertising is to increase sales for the business owner. But the ad sales rep’s goal is to sell advertising. The ad sales rep acts on behalf of his or her employer and does not maintain a fiduciary relationship with the client. So the advice of advertising sales reps is never given for the benefit of the small business owner. When they urge their clients to buy ads, they do not have the expertise or training to know if the ads will have any positive impact on sales or profitability. They are not qualified to suggest when an ad should run, how long the ad should run or even the frequency rate. They can not suggest other forms of advertising or marketing that might be more suitable because they are employed by a single media outlet.

This conflict of interest is unique to ad sales. Imagine if you had a medical condition; let’s say Acid Reflux. Instead of going to a doctor, you consulted with a drug sales rep. Like the ad sales rep, the drug rep works for one company. If she worked for Pfizer, she would recommend Viagra to treat your acid reflux condition. When you found this to be ineffective, the drug rep would suggest increasing the dosage or advise that you simply continue taking the drug longer and give it some time to work. Once you’ve run out of money, the drug rep would move on to the next patient.

Small business owners must learn that ad sales reps do not have their best interests at heart. The ad sales rep hopes that the ad works so that the client will buy more ads, not because their goal is to increase sales for the client. Only independent marketing experts have the ability to act objectively on behalf of their clients. This is an important distinction. They actually represent their clients’ best interests when it comes to marketing. As experts, they provide valuable insight as to which marketing program (or mix of programs) will generate the greatest return on their clients’ marketing investment.

Traditional Advertising is often Institutional Advertising

Most traditional advertising, be it local or national, is a form of institutional advertising. It is done with such repetition that people will remember the product or service when the time comes. The products or services are so commonly used that people have an easy time remembering the message. But local business can not afford to advertise in this manner. When they do advertise, they can only afford to run the ad for a short time, at an infrequent rate. Therefore, Institutional advertising does not work for small businesses. When it comes to marketing, local business owners need to market themselves in a modern fashion and expect a tangible return on their marketing investment.

So next time an institutional ad sales rep comes knocking on your door, remember, they are there to sell you something that is ineffective and does not provide a positive return on your investment. They do not understand marketing, they are sales people. Don’t trust their facts or figures. They are based on data that can not be analyzed easily and is only used to back their statements. Instead, search for a local, independent marketing expert. Not only are they much less expensive, they will be able to advise you based on your best interests, not their own.