Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Why print is not dead (and how to make the case it's alive and well)

If you're a newspaper ad rep who's getting the objection "print is dead", you're not alone.

I always kick off my ad sales seminars by asking participants what objections they encounter most frequently. This month, I ran two three-part newspaper ad sales training programs via Webinar with a number of publications of various sizes participating. Almost every one brought up the "print is dead" objection.

You'd think overcoming this objection would be as easy as proving that your publication is still reaching plenty of the right readers in the right places. Traditionally, this would be done by showing readership and market studies, audits, publisher statements, print run reports--whatever is available.

But ad reps are finding that even after they provide proof of superior circulation, readership, and demographics that many prospective advertisers are still too skeptical to risk investing any serious money on a medium that appears like it will get results but too often doesn't. Without a good reason why this is happening, they blame the print publication itself when too often it's they way they used it. But since they can't see that, "print is dead" is a convenient explanation.

To truly overcome the "print is dead" objection, you'll need to make a case to the prospect that "it's not us, it's you" without actually saying that, of course, and then be able to move on to prove how a new approach would work beyond a doubt.

I'd encourage any publication interested in learning how to do that to watch my free Webinar on selling response.

We all know print isn't dead. The objection is simply an attempt by local businesses to explain why print isn't working for them (if it was they wouldn't say it). If you haven't already, watch my Webinar and you'll see how to overcome this and most other objections in the process.

Monday, January 22, 2018

6 Ways To Increase Ad Sales Right Now

There are lots of things you can do to try to increase ad sales. But you should do these six things now for the biggest gains.
by Bob McInnis  

If you need to drive up advertising revenue in your ad department, here are the big things you should do first if you haven't done them already. They're based on my experience over the years helping over 1,000 newspapers and other local publications increase sales quickly. I've found these things, in particular, make a quick and substantial impact on the success of each sale as well as the size of the contracts your ad reps ultimately sell. They're taken from my award-winning ad sales and management system.

1. Go after the highest-potential advertisers first
There are some businesses that can and need to spend dramatically more money than others on advertising, even when they claim (or really believe) they don’t. For a quick shot of revenue, encourage your ad reps to go after those prospects first. 

Not long ago, part of my ad sales training services included actual on-site sales calls on behalf of my client newspaper (I've since replaced that part with a huge self-service site full of presentations and 100+ videos on how to sell each one). Since part of my compensation was based on the revenue I'd bring in, I’d send ahead a "hit list" of 50 categories of prospects on which I only wanted to focus. They were the ones I found were the easiest to sell and to sell big. Knowing who they were enabled me to close, in just a few days, $300,000 worth of sales because I knew exactly where the money was before setting foot in the market.

They're actually pretty easy to identify and here's how. Look for businesses who have a high average sale. When you think about it, even with a bad response, they’d probably still be making money from your publication, so it's not a huge risk for them if you can make a case they'll get any response.

But that’s not the reason they need to spend more money. They need to because, for an expensive item, typically there are much fewer people in the market at any given time compared to people buying less expensive items. For example, think how often you’re in the market for a car, jewelry, or a new driveway. All expensive things you buy infrequently.

With a smaller universe of people each week who is about to buy these more expensive kinds of products and services, these businesses need to go all in with a large ad that all those few people see. That's because of the natural drop off that occurs between the amount of people who actually see the ad and those who ultimately buy. They can’t afford anyone in the market about to buy their products missing their smaller ad, or they might run out of people before anyone even comes into the store or buys.

So, they both need to run big and they can. The perfect combination. So who fits into this category? Doctors, lawyers, real estate agents, flooring dealers, furniture dealers, roofers, hearing aid specialists, garage door installers, HVAC professionals, pool builders, home security specialists, and pest control companies to name just a few.

Try not to get caught in the trap of only looking at who’s running elsewhere, who’s spending the most in other places, or whose business just looks big. Often the most money can come from businesses not running at all or a seemingly small business.

2. Resist countering the upfront stalls and objections you get, instead hear and respond to what they're really saying
When a prospect presents an objection early on in the sales process, it seems only logical that the ad rep should say or show something to overcome the objection. Most likely, your ad reps have answers to the most common objections at the ready. But no matter how solid the ad rep's argument is, a back-and-forth debate at the beginning of the call typically does more harm than good. There's a much more effective way for ad reps to get past these and come out way ahead. 

Your ad reps should interpret any objection, especially upfront stalls and objections, as the prospect's theory as to why they don't believe they're going to get a response based on their past experience. That's closer to what's going on in their mind. Read more...

Thursday, June 4, 2015

9 Things Highly Effective Ad Reps Do When Selling Local Advertising

How do some local ad reps drive so much more revenue than others even when confronted with the same disadvatages and challenges? They don't sell space, they sell response.

Last week, the Hagadone newspaper group hired me to conduct a seminar for their publishers and ad directors company wide to explain exactly this. They wanted to learn why the Hagadone properties who were using this approach were driving so much revenue.

Those of you unfamiliar with our response-oriented selling program, it's based on the idea that when prospective advertisers make a buying decision, it's based almost exclusively on whether or not they believe they'll get a response. They may ask about circulation, visitors, demographics, and the quality of the editorial, but in their minds, these things are secondary. They know even when all those sound good, response can still be elusive.

Given that response requires both an effective medium and message, and given how highly subjective and incorrect most prospective advertisers' theories are on what makes an effective message, proving response is a tall order.

But, if you do it right, it's also amazingly effective at getting past virtually every objection you encounter (be it circulation, cost, lack of budget, and digital alternatives other than your online publication). It allows you to make large, long-term sales where the advertiser wins as well as the publication. This blog is full of examples.

I'm sure there are more, but here's 9 differences between what a traditional ad rep does througout a sales call and what an ad rep does when selling what the prospective advertiser really cares about--response.

These are dramatic differences. Ad reps not only insist that response is their top priority up front, but they actually follow through by showing competency in driving response and an ability to make something highly complicated understandable.

More importantly, ad reps are able to subtly eliminate the real culprit--the prospective advertiser's conviction that any past failures are due to shortcomings with your print or digial paid media and not their message.

This is quite a trick, but once your ad reps can get their prospective advertisers believing the ad rep is uniquely qualified to deliver response, it will transform the ad rep's ability to generate revenue as well as the advertisers'.

If you'd like to learn more about these techniques or if we can help your publication, sit in on a webinar, read more about our approach, or inquire about our programs.

Monday, May 11, 2015

September 2015: Join my three seminars at the Independent Free Papers of America's annual conference in San Antonio, Texas

On September 24-26, 2015, I'll be conducting three different sessions at the IFPA's annual conference in San Antonio.

The first will be teaching attendees how to compete against (or work with) social media. Those publications who are losing advertisers to "free" social media platforms will learn how to make a strong case that social media alone can't drive revenue nearly as effectively as when it's combined with paid print and digital.

Another session will explain to publishers and ad directors how to help their ad staff drive major ad revenue by shifting to selling response and away from more traditional ways of selling print and digital advertising.

A third session will teach ad reps a number of new ways to supercharge their sales.

It should be an exciting trio of sessions. It's actually a combined conference with the Texas Communiy Newspaper Association, so no doubt it'll be a packed house.

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 it 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.