Sunday, May 1, 2011

Even when advertisers say they don't have any money, they really do. Here's why:

. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle knew they could do a lot more for this advertiser and in the process get them spending the money they needed to succeed.
I know it makes no sense. Your current and prospective advertisers aren't lying when they insist they have no money. All evidence seems to support it. Their sales are down. We're in a recession and nobody's buying.

But what they're saying is almost never true, and if you accept their objections, you're doing a huge disservice to them, your newspaper, and yourself.

I have the pleasure of working with ad reps week after week who come in to my seminars convinced they have a unique territory full of businesses unable to spend anything. Of course, by the end of the process, which includes personally helping them go after business, they learn how to make major sales to these same businesses and get them a dramatic response.

For example, we just wrapped up teaching our selling system to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, a 18,000 circulation newspaper in Montana. The day we finished up our final target account sessions, the ad reps headed out to present their first new strategies. The sales were instantaneous and dramatic.

The first presentation and sale (aside from one I helped close while on-site) was made by ad rep Megan Armstrong to an historic hotel in her territory that was running sporadically at best, occasionally sticking some menu items in a small ad and just not spending the money they needed in order to succeed.

After teaching a better approach to ad size, frequency, and content, the advertiser signed on to a series of 5 col x 18" ads (twice per week!) designed to overwhelm the target customers with information matching the reasons why people take a weekend escape to one place rather than another. Until Megan proved they needed and could run this ad, they never would have spent this kind of money.
Megan first taught them our new ad strategy techniques, which fixed any incorrect theories on ad size, frequency, and content. Then, once the advertiser understood the logic involved in succeeding with print and online newspapers, Megan presented the new ad, a 5 col x 18" ad, and suggested they run two times per week for 13 weeks, plus a number of impressions in their online newspaper (the same techniques apply to Web ads). The contract presented was for $14,000.

They signed on the spot, but asked if they could have an "out" after the first $8,000 if nothing happened. The great thing with a 5 x 18, of course, is that clearly everybody in the market this week for a weekend getaway will see the ad (out of almost 50,000 readers per day) and there's so much room for some real substance that the reader will be overwhelmed by all the reasons they should go there-- the food, the rooms, more food, and the historic charm of the area are all covered in detail.

Too much copy? We don't think so. Their readers, like yours, are literate enough to handle a few paragraphs, despite the "advertising folklore" that trickles down to us that says bulleted items are all that people will read. That "keep it short" concept comes from image advertising, and it's even questionable for those types of ads.

In effect, with this ad, they're stacking the deck in favor of the advertiser and, as long as they're using our effective ad techniques properly, they'll do wonderfully and essentially own the market for weekend getaways.

Keep in mind it wasn't just the ad that sold them. It was a combination of a few things.

Megan made it clear from the start that she wasn't there to sell the account, but to see if she could help them like she's helped other advertisers, not just with the media, but the message.

She taught new techniques that made much more sense to the advertiser.

She got better information out of the account.

And she invested some time into creating a killer strategy using our techniques that she could then hand off to her designers to make look better (we taught the techniques to them, too).

Sure, it took a little longer, but it was time better spent than knocking on doors for an hour and trying to close them on the spot.

Last week, I was in a publisher's office wrapping up five days of training and I liked the way he summed up the issue of advertisers selling ad reps on the fact that they have no money to spend.

"When they say they have no money, it's not that they're saying they have no money," he said. "They're really saying: you haven't yet shown me you're going to make my business a lot of money."

Focus on response, ignore their cries of poverty, and you'll not only increase your ad sales dramatically, but it'll be the best thing you do for your accounts, as Megan showed so successfully her first time out with these new techniques.