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How to make better use of meeting time

How to make better use of meeting time Jim Meskauskas

It seems that the season for media planning, buying -- and selling -- is kicking into high gear. The third quarter is winding down and all eyes are on fourth quarter and 2008 budgets.

This means that a lot of sales representatives are going to be making a lot of calls, and a lot of media planners are going to be sitting in (or skipping out of at the last minute) a lot of meetings.

My team and I have gone to quite a few meetings ourselves lately. Most are the same review of site statistics, standard creative size review, rich media capabilities and the now-requisite "we can do video" propositions. Some meetings are less than spectacular, but every once in a while they are over-the-top terrific. (I was told by my team that the nextnewnetworks meeting was really a great meeting.)

The product being featured certainly plays a role in how good or bad a meeting might be, but the old saying "content is king" holds true for the content of a meeting just as much as it does the editorial of a website, magazine or television network.

One of the factors contributing to how cool the nextnewnetworks meeting was is that the company itself has great content (you can go to the site and check out "Internet People" and it brings back some memories).

The audience, too, has influence on the quality of the meeting. Little is worse than a room full of several surly, overworked media planners who think that taking vendor meetings is outside the purview of their jobs.

After a couple of weeks and a host of meetings, a member of my team mentioned to me something that she noticed was common among all meetings. This got me thinking that a brief overview of things to make sure are brought to every meeting -- which by themselves may not make those meetings better -- might certainly go some way toward making sure they don't go worse.

  1. Bring a printout of your materials. I appreciate the conservations of resources -- be they time, money, material -- as much as anyone. But it's surprising how often there are no printouts of the materials being reviewed. The room sits and looks at a laptop screen and then that's it. While not wanting to lug paper around is understandable, and one doesn't want to be wasteful, it helps to have a tangible visual aid. Also, we planners and buyers are a note-taking breed. While we should always have implements ready at hand, printouts are a big help.

  2. Have knowledge of the agency's clients. Nothing kills more time than the "So, who are your clients?" discussion. Not only that but the representative in the room is then being pressed to come up with fetching ideas on the fly. While demonstrating one's ability to be creative on the spot might be a fine challenge, it doesn't in all cases produce the best ideas for the client, nor does it feature the media property being discussed in the best possible way. A few minutes of looking up a list on an agency's website or doing a quick AdRelevance run can be the difference between a disaster and writing the business.

  3. Bring personality. Don't try to make them like you… actually BE likable. When I was a younger lad, I used to do a whole lot of theater (musicals, straight drama, improv). The key to good acting was always to believe in your role to the point where the words weren't recited from memory; the words were your own. There are some people out there who just don't get along with certain other kinds of people. But that doesn't mean you can't be a likeable you. While the business of the business should never be far from your mind, the fact that people try harder to do business with the people they like more than the people they don't nearly always supersedes the business of the business.

Media Strategies Editor Jim Meskauskas is vice president and director of online media for ICON International, Inc., an Omnicom Company. .

Jim Meskauskas is a Partner and Co-Founder of Media Darwin, Inc., providing comprehensive media strategy and planning.  Prior to that, Jim was the SVP of Online Media at ICON International, an Omnicom Company, where he spent nearly five years.

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