4 Ways Media Salespeople Can Build More Value for Advertisers
Media salespeople face a daunting task in today’s publishing industry. Print advertising revenue continues to decline while digital ad CPMs face downward pricing pressures from programmatic. And the task for marketers has not gotten easier either. Banner blindness has made display ads significantly less effective and marketing budgets are stretched thin across new digital media like social, email, and mobile. To solve these issues media salespeople need to change what they sell and how they sell it.
We explored these challenges at yesterday’s Reboot: Radically Transforming Media Sales, a hands-on workshop that arms media salespeople for success in the modern media industry. One of the biggest takeaways from the event was that media salespeople cannot sell what they have in the past -- space on a page -- and expect to succeed in today’s multimedia, multi-platform, and multi-device world. A banner ad cannot cut through today’s media noise, and as a result advertisers will not pay what they have in the past for display. Thankfully, publishers have the audience advertisers want to reach. It’s up to media salespeople to develop creative solutions that connect advertisers and readers in more powerful ways. Sales experts and publishing leaders discussed a number of ways media salespeople can do this at yesterday’s Reboot:
1. Focus on selling big ideas for long-term deals. If a media salesperson enters a meeting with a prospect and simply sells off of a rate card, they are setting themselves up for a conversation that revolves around product and price. That method of selling undermines the value publishers can provide advertisers. Instead go into the sales meeting with an idea that will help the advertiser accomplish their goals and sell more of their products. For example, Duc Luu, VP of advertising sales at Foreign Policy understood that his prospect AARP wanted to grow its presence abroad. He sold the organization an idea: sponsor a research project on international aging populations and have that research distributed at the Davos Summit, the premier gathering of international leaders, and on ForeignPolicy.com. The content presents AARP as a thought leader on the international stage and connects the brand to Foreign Policy’s valuable global audience. This idea has evolved into a multi-year deal and driven six figures in sales revenue, Luu told attendees.
2. Take the time to build trust with the advertiser. Selling large advertising deals like the one above doesn’t happen overnight. It’s important to cultivate trust between yourself and the prospect. Luu said that he did this by sending AARP research that his team had conducted in the past, inviting executives from AARP to Foreign Policy events, and eventually selling them a smaller event sponsorship to test the waters. Although this trust took a couple of years to build, the effort has helped Foreign Policy develop a lucrative, long-term partnership.
3. Cut out the agencies. Advertisers want to tell a story that compels consumers to buy their products and they’re willing to spend millions of dollars with public relation firms and advertising agencies to get that story out. But both the PR firms and ad agencies turn to publishers to distribute brand stories because we have the audiences that their clients want to reach. Publishers have an opportunity to take market share from these agencies, said Chief Media Alchemist and Reboot emcee Andrew Davis. That’s why major publishers like Time Inc., Condé Nast, and Hearst are investing in creative studios that are developing native content. This content connects brands with the audiences they want to reach most, which are audiences that these publishers own.
4. Work with editorial to develop new solutions. The Great Wall between Church and State is coming crumbling down. That’s because in today’s industry editorial and sales teams need to work together to find compelling solutions for readers and advertisers. “Sales and editorial need to realize that they have the same goal,” said Sarah Snell Cooke, strategy leader at ALM Media. She said that sales and editorial must collaborate to identify topics that readers and advertisers are interested in and then develop solutions around those topics. For example, editors at Credit Union Times identified cybersecurity as a trending topic among readers. They shared this insight with the sales team, and together developed a free, virtual trade show on the topic of cybersecurity. The sponsored event captured the interest of readers and advertisers and was a huge success in its first year, said Cooke.
Davis summed up the key to media sales success at the onset of Reboot: “You have to understand how the marketer thinks and understand their problems. Once you can do that, you can add real value to what their doing and do more than just raise awareness for their brand.”