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Tips on Negotiating Rates

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Tips on Negotiating Rates:

Prices for print advertising are fixed, as the print media can be flexible in matching supply with demand. They have expandable space; if they sell more advertising than usual, they can print more pages.

Your negotiations with print media will revolve around what other services they can offer you, such as reader response cards, additional ads in a special issue, special position, free color, and so on. You will probably not be able to negotiate an actual discount off the rate card.

Prices for radio are negotiable, because the amount of inventory is fixed. There are only so many minutes between the programs themselves that can be sold. If there is competition for those minutes, the price goes up. The effect is really noticeable when there's a sudden surge in demand for commercials.

Spring is the beginning of the broadcast media buying season, since networks issue their fall schedules in May. Networks like to get money early, so to encourage you, they will usually offer attractive package deals at this time. This is the best time to negotiate for overall lowest cost.

Opportunities come up throughout the year as other advertisers change their plans. You can make good buys at any time, but the deal might be structured differently. If you got a call from a radio station tomorrow saying that it has a highly prized time slot available during the morning newscast, and it will cost only $22 per spot, but you've got to decide fast, would you have an answer ready? A good media plan can help keep you focused on how that deal fits into your overall strategy. If it delivers an audience you want, and if it's available at a price that fits your budget, you're in business. It helps to have a well-documented plan to assist in these fast-breaking decisions.

If you plan to use broadcast media heavily, I recommend that you work with an agency or media service. Those who know the territory thoroughly and are working on your behalf will be better able to find the best buys.

If you are buying your media time and space yourself, here are some tips:

  • Be sure your chosen medium delivers your target market. The media sales reps are expert at putting their offerings in the best light. Everybody can find something to claim "We're Number One" about. You don't care. Does the medium deliver the audience you want to reach? That's the key question.

  • Beware of bringing your personal biases to your media decisions. Don't buy a certain radio station just because you listen to it--ask instead if your potential customers do. And it works the other way, too. Don't not advertise in a certain newspaper just because you hate one of its reporters.

  • Look for verifiable information from your sales reps. Audience size, share, gross rating points--these calculations should be based on information from third-party ratings sources. Beware of any statistic described as "estimated"--ask about the source for that information.

  • Representatives from the various media will call on you; no matter what the title on their business cards, they are salespeople. Do not allow them to make your decisions for you. High-pressure sales techniques are fairly common. Rely on these people for information, but do your own calculations, and make the decisions that are right for you.

    * Source Streetwise Do-It-Yourself Advertising
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