Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Newspaper ad sales training: Your ad reps are your brand


Last week I was conducting a two-day session with Toebe Bush and Jerry Bean's people at Century Group Newspapers, publishers of the Yucaipa/Calimesa News Mirror, when something clicked for an ad rep in a powerful way that reminded me why I love this business.

I was talking about the key to selling dramatically more advertising. That is wasn't about selling advertising space at all but instead focusing all your energy on proving, ahead of time, that the prospective advertiser will get a response. It's something most newspapers (and their competitors) don't think is even possible, let alone recognize it as a highly effective way for their department to approach the sale.

It's really two steps (besides the easy part of making a case your print and online newspaper reaches enough of the right people). First is being able to create an ad strategy that'll work consistently, week after week. Second, and the real trick, is to get the prospective advertiser to believe in the ad strategy enough to know that he's not putting his money at risk and actually spend it.

Which means it needs to fit into their view of what an effective ad is, not yours. Unfortunately, since most local business' approaches to advertising can be unreliable, the ad rep has to change the way the prospect believes effective advertising works. Sometimes I jokingly call this conversation a "therapy session" which involves saving the prospective advertiser from themselves.

For one particular ad rep at this session, that point really clicked. The fact that I showed her how to take advertisers who claimed they had no money and turn them into big advertisers was beside the point. It was that the newspaper was going to be doing some real good in the business community that she liked. She was going to help save their businesses.

When I was selling local newspaper advertising, I loved the job because every day involved trying to solve a different business' challenges. I felt like I was really having a positive impact on the community. I wasn't just selling space but helping to solve problems and doing some good. Which is exactly where my ad sales techniques I teach came from--help your local advertisers succeed and, before the ad even runs, the publication will succeed.

So want to make it a whole lot easier to sell more advertising that's larger and more frequent? Make sure your ad reps have the tools to convince a prospect the ad strategy they're presenting is solid and all those objections they're facing about money and circulation and print is dead will disappear when the prospect realizes it's not the medium that was the problem, but their message.

Better yet, your prospective advertisers will quickly learn that the biggest advantage your publications have over your competitors' is the your reps' ability to drive response, which is all they really care about anyway.

It'll drive your competition crazy.





Thursday, April 10, 2014

A skeptical ad rep who learned a new way to sell


Do you find it challenging to get your ad reps to put the time and effort into learning the techniques taught to them in ad sales training programs? The problem is, of course, if they don't put the effort in to learning them, they're never going to see how well they work, and your money will be wasted.

That's why the video accompanying this post is like gold to my clients. It was recorded by Lauren McLaughlin, a new ad rep in Michigan in a very difficult territory (actually she didn't have an actual territory, she was a floater who had to go into other ad reps territories after prospects they couldn't budge).

She had emailed me telling me about some early and dramatic successes and when I called to thank her she went on to explain how highly skeptical a person she is and how she wasn't completely convinced my approach would work until after she learned it and started using it. I thought that would be something that my other client newspapers should hear so I asked her to record her saying it. It turned out she also added in a couple of case studies.

I have over 1,000 newspaper clients at this point so I'm posting it on my blog to make it easy for the managers and their staff to access. I think others in the industry might find it interesting, too.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

New home sales are up 25.4%. Time to meet with your area builders!

The Commerce Department today released some figures showing sales of newly built single-family houses rose 25.4% from September, and were up 21.6% over October 2012.

I just released to my Presentation Pack members a fantastic series of tutorial videos showing them how to sell big ad contracts to builders and this news is going make it even easier to close the sale.

Any serious builder will be budgeting now for next year, so this is a great time to meet with them, come up with a recommendation, and return with a recommendation.

Remember, if your publication is editorial-based your readers love to read so let the builders know that. This means your builder can share real specifics in the ad related to what prospective new home buyers care about including materials used, experience of the craftsmen, styles of homes they can build, value, ability to finish on time and on budget, and exceptional follow up.

For someone who's about to choose a builder, this information will be invaluable and read.

Contact me at 631-477-2505 if you'd like to hear more about how I can help you and your ad staff sell to a builder or all sorts of other local businesses.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Join me in Michigan for 2013 ADCON!


I'm thrilled to be leading a full day of workshops and panels. Join me on September 27th at the Lexington Hotel in Lansing, MI, where we'll be discussing how to tie print and digital and social media together for bigger ad sales! For more info on the sessions, click here.

This year's sessions include: 
Ad Sales Face to Face For new and veteran ad reps alike (as well as the publishers and ad directors who manage them), Bob McInnis will share powerful techniques to getting prospective advertisers running and running larger and more frequently than ever imagined. New approaches to every step of the sales process will be discussed as well as overcoming today’s most difficult objections. Techniques will apply to both print and digital. 
Prospecting for Gold, Silver and Green There’s major revenue hiding in plain sight in your market, you just need to be able to recognize it. Bob McInnis and a panel of newspaper pros will show you exactly where it is and how to get it. Techniques will apply to both print and digital. 
Using Social Media to Tie it All Together As consumers change how they buy, local businesses are responding by putting too much emphasis on social media and too little on print and digital advertising. Learn how to help your prospects improve the way they use social media and, in the process, they’ll recognize why print and online advertising needs to be a major part of their marketing effort. 
Whether you’re trying to get your fair share of print and digital or you want to start offering social media services, this session by Bob McInnis will get you off to a great start.

Click here for more info and the full schedule of workshops. Hope to see you all there!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Use me as your personal presenter to CLOSE MORE SALES

Imagine an advertiser who hates print and has no money. Now imagine that advertiser taking out a loan to pay for an entirely new campaign. That's exactly what happened when an ad rep from the Ithaca Times took me up on my offer to make the final presentation for him over the Web. 

All members of my Presentation Packs service have this option. I can step in at any point, especially the critical final sale and help sell the ad. In fact, I recently did two presentations for an ad rep at the Ithaca Times, one for a dentist and one for a chiropractor. Going in, neither were interested in running, having received no response from print in the past (including in their own newspaper).

Both ended up buying. The dentist bought digital only, and the chiropractor bought 6 half-page ads in print, plus he's considering bumping that up to a 15-week contract. In fact, the chiropractor was so excited afterward that he was willing to take a loan out to run the ad!

This week I want to show you exactly how we did this and how I can easily do the same for you. These are the steps we followed with both prospects, but really, at the heart of it, what follows is the chiropractor's story: 
  1. The ad rep stopped in and introduced himself. He listened to the upfront stalls and objections, agreed with them, and explained his newspaper's philosophy of helping with overall response (here's the piece he followed).
  2. The ad rep told the prospect that he's working with an advertising guru (that's me) who has helped many advertisers like him get a dramatic response. He explained that I even had experience helping chiropractors. While talking, he showed the prospect my website set up specifically to show during a conversation like this. He started playing the video about the service on his iPhone (again, produced with the prospect in mind). 
  3. The ad rep then offered my services: I would take a look at some information about the chiropractor's business, create a new strategy, design the ad and even jump into a Web meeting with the chiropractor to discuss it. There would be no pressure to run the ad. The chiropractor had nothing to lose. In fact, if nothing else, he'd gain the new perspective of having a fresh set of eyes on his advertising efforts.
  4. They set up an appointment. Then the ad rep and I worked on customizing the chiropractor ad so it was more specific to his practice (and resized to a half-page tabloid in the process). You can see the final spec ad at right.
  5. We had a short, 30-40 minute Web meeting at the chiropractor's office where I taught the chiropractor our approach to getting a response, drawing both the approach and the ad out of him (just like in my video), and then took him through the logic of the ad. I also talked about why he needed and could run the right size and frequency and he agreed. I then handed the meeting back to the ad rep who went over the rates and other details.
  6. The chiropractor was blown away, very excited and, after consulting with his wife (who in retrospect should have been there), agreed to a 6-time contract at $834 per week (though they still might upgrade that to a 15-time contract for $750 per week). Although money was very tight, they were so eager to run they agreed to take out a loan to pay for it. That's when you know you're doing things right!
These one-on-one Web sessions go wonderfully, are surprisingly easy to set up, and are an extremely effective selling tool. Your prospective advertisers will see that your ad reps have some phenomenal resources to help their local businesses. Get in touch with me and let's set some up for you today.

To find out more about our affordable Presentation Packs service, click on the link or give me a call at 631-477-2505 and we'll hit the ground running today.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Is it time to fire your ad staff and start over?


Newspaper publishers and advertising directors across the country are stumped as to why so many of their legacy ad reps are still having trouble making the jump to selling digital.

Selling digital is not that complicated, is it? Is it a coincidence that many of those same ad reps are having major trouble selling print, too?

As print ad revenue continues to decline, it's all too easy to miss the relationship between the two problems. As managers, we're quick to explain away print revenue losses as simply what happens as readers and advertisers migrate to digital. We cut the ad rep a little slack, and let him keep doing what he's doing.

Of course, the cause of and the solution to both problems are really the same: we've hired, kept, and rewarded the ad reps who brought in revenue for us, no matter how they did it.

When I was an ad director, I was certainly guilty of this. My reps had different ways of getting the job done. Although I encouraged them to approach the sale the way I had taught them, some on my team thought they knew better and did their own thing.

They relied on sheer enthusiasm, persistence, aggressiveness or outdated sales techniques. They took shortcuts and focused on selling the media instead of getting the advertiser a response. They made poor recommendations that weren't in the best interests of the advertiser. They left money on the table.

But as long as they were hitting their goals, I could justify looking the other way. I always had bigger problems to deal with: new ad reps to train, empty territories to fill, and pressure to make my own departmental goals.

Shame on me.

I know I'm not alone. I've seen countless publishers and ad directors cringe as they watch some of their ad reps sell. But as long as ad reps are making their numbers, it's easy to look the other way. Until they're not hitting their goals anymore.

With increasingly attractive and less expensive options available, the chances of prospective advertisers choosing to spend money with your newspaper is at an all-time low.

The marketplace that forgave less than optimal sales behavior is gone. We're discovering that even a salesperson who once made their numbers may not be such a great salesperson after all. And just as we can't blame the decline in ad revenue just on digital, we also can't look to digital as the only solution.

In order to survive and thrive in this increasingly competitive environment, ad reps need to be executing perfect sales calls every time. There's simply no margin for error anymore.

Here's how to make that happen:

1. Don't allow your ad reps to choose a selling style
Many ad reps believe it's as much their right to choose their style of selling as it is to choose what color car they drive, what kind of music they listen to, or their political beliefs. They'll defend it just as passionately. Sure, everyone has their own personality, but there's a precise selling process they should be following on every call if they have any hope of thriving as a print and digital ad rep in today's market.

2. Give them a chance to improve
Teach them the right way to sell. If you teach them how to be strategists for the prospective advertiser, it won't matter what product they eventually recommend. The techniques need to be sound and the training program needs to sell them on the fact that there's a better approach to the sale. Case studies help a lot. I actually wrote a 25-page free e-book about exactly what goes into a successful training program (and we practice what we preach).

3. Coach and support them
You may not have hired some of them for their analytical skills, so they're going to need some major coaching, which should include help identifying where the money is and step-by-step hand-holding through the sales process. You'll probably need to help them build the presentations (we do all that, too).

4. Hold them accountable
Test them. Make them prove to you that they have it down. And make sure they know you'll be testing them periodically. Because we all get distracted easily with more pressing things, have them show you that they approached the sale properly on a weekly basis.

5. Fire the ones who won't adapt
No matter what you say, some of your ad reps won't believe that the approaches they've been using so successfully for years is now the problem. They'll blame it on tough times. Others might not be motivated enough to change or just afraid to change. Fire them before they bring your newspaper down and get somebody in there that'll do the right thing for your advertisers.

6. Hire true ad strategists
Want to make sure your new ad reps succeed with print and digital? Make sure they're analytical. They need to be able to properly analyze a business, its competitors, and target customers and put together a strategy to drive business to them. It's these strategies that will set your publication apart and it's something your competitors, (including many digital and social media experts), aren't doing.

Teach your existing staff the right techniques or hire new sales reps that gravitate to analyzing businesses and they'll be able to sell all your products and services, print and digital combined.

In short, don't be so fast to write off your publication's print revenue decline to digital. You work hard to create a fantastic publication. Insist your ad reps are doing their part flawlessly, too, or what they're hearing about print being dead might just come true.

I hope this helps. Leave a comment sharing your thoughts below (including how much you disagree with me). Share this post with your friends. And subscribe to my Twitter feed and check out my Facebook page for other interesting resources.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Congrats on the Cash for Gold ad sale, Shannon!


A quick congratulations to Shannon Oseen at the Post Register on her sale of last week's "Cash for Gold" Presentation Pack ad.

Shannon took a coin dealer from running a 2 column x 3" ad to a weekly 4 col x 15" ad by simply following the process outlined in the videos

These days, there's at least one of these places in every territory, so unless you already have more ad sales than you can handle, there's no excuse why members to this service haven't gotten out there and presented this already.

If you're still feeling shaky on the sales techniques (for shame!), pull me into a Web meeting with the prospect and I'll present it for you. We could even do it in an iPad Web meeting.

Among other things, the ad has so many ways of proving that people will receive top dollar--the only thing people really care about when selling their gold and silver--that it was a no-brainer for the advertiser, especially after Shannon reviewed the content/size/frequency concepts I talk about in the videos.

Here's the link to everything:


If you're not yet a member of our inexpensive live training, coaching, and presentation service for newspapers, you should learn more about our Presentation Pack service.