Full Sale Ahead: Are Social Media Buys Eroding Your Media Buys?
It has always been necessary to sell the importance of your brand's content, but now another wrinkle is added to the equation. Today, within your market, you compete against dozens of social media information sources including blogs, forums and Facebook postings. Something to add to your sales conversations should be a description of why the content from your publication brand provides a better media buy than the social media in your market. Hopefully, you have social media offerings that you can talk about when these new competitors are bought up. But the real competitive advantage a magazine brand has is in the aggregate content it can push into a market.
When we research readers' media-consumption patterns these days, including all print and all possible digital media, we typically find them to be highly fragmented. But while social media may have given rise to dozens of new voices within a market, it does not automatically grant widespread readership to them. However, bloggers with little widespread support may have among them passionate followers (including executives from your advertising clients), and they can razor-blade your advertisers' support away.
Here are some tips to advocate for publication-branded media on calls:
1. Describe the collective force of unity.
Position your content against editorial generated by influential individuals. Influential bloggers and experts who attract a following may exist in your market, but as a publisher, you are not speaking to the market as an individual, but as an editorial platform encompassing the expertise of many individuals. Point out that the whole editorial platform your brand presents is a better way to reach a market. It's possible a blogger has tremendous influence in one narrow niche, but he or she has only one voice. Depending on how powerful his or her last post goes, so goes his or her readership. A typical portfolio a media publisher brings to market is a more consistent readership.
2. Sell your editorial team.
In a world where individual bloggers can compete with your publication/brand for readers and advertisers, your editors cannot be invisible experts. You need to explain how your editors and contributors bring their unique points of view collectively. Most media buyers will not spend a lot of time evaluating the relative expertise of your editorial staff, so you will have to do this for them. Have a list of your editors and content contributors with a brief description of how each one brings insight to your brand. The sell here is to make sure advertisers see your media buy as representing a team of experts, not just one.
3. Talk through categories of content.
It's difficult to get buyers interested in a discussion about editorial. To do this you will need to prepare ahead of time and boil it down. Take a month (or week) of your current brand's content, and categorize the articles and posts. For example, if you work for a tech magazine, you might have "new technology" articles, articles on overall trends and applications stories. If you place all the content for a month of your media brand into these lists from your magazine, newsletters, blogs, website (etc.), you can demonstrate just how encompassing your media brand is. Sure, one blogger might have a following because he or she is known as a trend spotter. But in any given month, you might have 10 unique trend articles. Question: Where does the overall attention of a market go? Answer: To where the most complete content is.
4. Share content anthologies.
In most markets, content exists that is of special interest to specific advertisers. For example, camera manufacturers will naturally gravitate toward articles on camera technology. Collect these articles your media brand has generated in the past 6 months to a year, and present them to demonstrate the substantial volume of content your brand creates. Often advertisers don't care about your editorial vision, but care about content that relates to their business. Collecting and presenting articles where the two intersect often helps them see value in your content.
5. Sell to the top.
Selling content value is often an "expertise sell," where you are selling your content as having more weight than competing content. Often this approach is best received when there is market expertise on the buyer's side. Typically the higher in an organization you go, the more expertise is found. If you can meet with the chief marketing officer level or higher, you will encounter more expertise and appreciation for quality content than at the media buying level.
6. Sell print power as a content marquee.
When a print magazine is part of your brand portfolio, you have an advantage. Even if your client does not buy ads in your print publication, print provides an offline "promotion," which constantly reminds readers about its online content. While search engines can blur the boundaries between different online media, there is no blurring about the ability of print to provide media brand exposure before and after readers go online. If print is part of your media brand, it has an offline marquee in the market it serves.
All of these tips reinforce the idea that your brand is not just a guy pounding out a blog, but a content system, which regularly attracts the attention of a target audience. While individual pieces of content can attract a market's attention, successful marketing campaigns need the ongoing consistency that a media brand can provide. PE
Josh Gordon is president of Smarter Media Sales (SmarterMediaSales.com), where he helps publishers monetize their content assets. Visit his blog at AdSalesBlog.com.