Pushed out of the multiplex by Big Hollywood's parade of CGI superhero vehicles and gross-out comedy sequels, Little Hollywood - the creators - responded with a creative programming renaissance in cable, OTT and streaming channels.
Pushed off the digital media plan by Big Platforms and the relentless growth and consolidation of Big Programmatic, Little Publishing - our creators - have responded with their own creative programming renaissance. Custom events, podcasts, influencers, social optimization, content marketing - I'm sure the list of possibilities has grown just since I began this post. Publishers new and old have become more creative than ever before in all aspects of their businesses. Except one: Sales.
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In boardrooms and bullpens all around New York and Silicon Beach, execs at creative companies are scratching their heads, puzzled at why their amazing creative ideas are not fetching the attention and premiums they often deserve. The answer is deceptively simple: you are feeding those ideas directly into a transactional ad buying system that was built to manage cost against standardized ad units. Dress that business up in the language of creativity and ideation - hire gurus, launch divisions - and it's still the same buyer (with the same calculator) on the other side of the table.
As content and experience have become multidimensional, sales has doubled-down on transaction. And the results have been predictably underwhelming. The challenge for the next generation CRO - the "moonshot" of the next 2-3 years - is to reinvent digital and integrated media sales; to make the sales process as intricate and creative as the ideas it represents. This is going to call for four big intellectual and behavioral shifts:
- Embrace enterprise selling. The standard call to "go see the client" is not enough. We need to break out of the advertising channel entirely and sell broader and deeper within the client organization.
- Find new budgets. Why do we always start with "the digital ad budget?" What we do has as much in common with PR, sales promotion, shopper marketing, research, compliance...you get the picture.
- Learn to love Scatter. Planning cycles, campaigns and RFPs are looking more than a little tired. They exist because media agencies need them to exist. Those who will win are those who will set their own pace and not rely on inclusion in a process that's getting less relevant by the week.
- Think like a producer. The old questions were "How am I going to win a spot in this campaign?" and "How can I sell them this product?" The new question is "How can I get my project funded?"
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