Marc Mallett is vp of sales for Season, a division of Silver Chalice, providers of digital sports video. Follow him on Twitter @mmallett.
Sellers sometimes get a bad rap in ad land, and while we’re not the first profession listed on the altruism meter, there are a lot of compassionate, intelligent and dedicated people working in this field who would all welcome the chance to stretch our entertainment dollar just a bit further, both helping something or someone outside of locking down the next IO.
The seller’s entertainment budget is used on a monthly basis to entertain or wine and dine brand clients and prospective agency partners. There are the beer pong and flip cup tournaments geared toward the younger media buyer demographic, and then there are the dinners, the concerts and tickets to games. Whether its jeans, sunglasses parties, or “Apple picking” outings (I’m referring to the Steve Jobs variety, not Granny Smith), everyone in the industry knows this is happening on a regular basis, but it’s usually not the first (or second) topic brought up in conversation.
During a meeting with some sales peers, I raised the idea of leveraging our entertainment budgets for something more positive than a quest for inebriation or an outing that invokes envy in the media buyer’s friends when they post about it on social media. That money can be used for the proverbial (and clichéd) win-win scenario, where a seller builds or strengthens relationships with buyers, the buyers get a memorable experience, and a charity or cause receives some benefit.
There is an opportunity to work within the industry to get a little smarter about how we spend our time entertaining the client. I started thinking about a way for the digital media industry to tap into a marketplace of worthy events, ideas and gifts that have a charity component to them. I’ve tasked myself with committing at least 10 percent of my team’s annual budget to go toward entertainment that helps something larger than buzz or the quest for cool that our industry’s entertainment dollar chase so frequently.
I’m pushing my sales team to look for charitable events to attend with clients, as well as causes with which to get involved. Another worthy idea is a marketplace in which members of the online sales community can pick specific experiences, events or goods, and a portion of every dollar spent entertaining clients goes toward a set group of charities. This requires a lot of work to be effective, as well as tremendous buy-in from the sellers themselves, but I’d absolutely steer my entertainment budget toward a service that provides top-tier schmoozing opportunities while delivering a portion of my budget to a charitable cause that appeals to both me and the client.
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