Some of my clients advertise on trashy sites. How can I dissuade them from this form of brand suicide?

Dear Aunty B,

I am in advertising sales and want to know how to change the behaviour of my clients. Many of them are really picky about where they put their ads in print.

For example, they wouldn’t want their ads running in crappy semi-porn magazines. But on the internet some of them don’t seem to care. They put their ads anywhere, which reflects really badly on their brand.

At first I thought the internet was changing the way people want to advertise, like they don’t care where their ads go anymore.

But several of my clients have had really bad experiences with their brands because they bought advertising across the type of sites they would never touch in print.

It’s really awful to go to meetings and have these top companies tell me where they are advertising. I don’t want to bag these sites, as I avoid a negative sell, but I really feel like I need to warn them that the huge money they have spent on building their brand is going to be impacted by these decisions and can even backfire on them!

How do I get my clients to understand they have to be as discerning online as they are in print so they don’t associate their brand with trash and focus on quality?

Pulling my hair out,



Dear Pulling my hair out,

Doesn’t it make your hair curl. It’s like watching companies suicide in slow motion. And they pay for the privilege!

Look, some of your clients have made the transition into the internet world extremely well. They apply “quality” standards when they are choosing where to put their brands: The same standards that they applied to other mediums. But some don’t understand quality or they are experimenting and put “brand exposure” before “brand safe”, which can quickly become brand disaster.

So here is what you have to do. First of all listen to what they want. And I mean listen. What are they trying to achieve. Then, at the start of your reply, compliment them that they are talking to you because they understand the importance of the association with quality brands. Make sure you then can show them how you have delivered for other premium companies that have had a similar challenge or strategy. Pepper your conversation with words like “brand safe”.

I agree with you about negative selling, but there is nothing wrong with pointing out how clever your client is in understanding your premium environment. And you can always express concern that competitors/players have found themselves in strife by wandering into unsafe environments. You are, after all, a caring sort of person!

Do find out though why they are being attracted to unsafe environments and make sure you cover those advantages off in your pitch.

Be smart,

Your Aunty B

To read more Aunty B advice, click here.

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