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.

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

How we closed some major advertising in six steps

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.