Winning a long-term commitment from a large advertiser is the goal for every sales staff. But before the package can be sold, the publisher needs to make sure it has all of its resources lined up internally. From sales to edit to Web developers and print design, the key to success is how well those groups (and others) have prepared.

When b-to-b publisher Advantage Business Media wanted to bolster its educational offerings to the marketplace, it developed a new section in Electronic Component News called “Books and Kits” which lets companies submit engineering technical journals for review by senior technical editor Jon Titus, who then follows up the next issue by reviewing a kit.

The Books and Kits program generated interest from several large advertisers and the reviews appear both in print and online. “We’re trying to ground a lot of what we’re doing from an educational standpoint in print and then move the audience to the Web site to get more information,” says Nick Pinto, group publisher of ABM’s design group.

The main customer for the program was a distributor whose involvement prompted one of its manufacturers to advertise in the magazine as well. Advantage also began adding additional elements to the program. One is a design engineering community section called The Brainstorm in which editors pose questions on different engineering topics. “From an educational standpoint, we’re offering a bit more than just a new product application focus, which is what ECN has always been known for,” says Pinto.

Addressing the Readers First

ECN is currently fielding a large proposal called Design Talk which offers different viewpoints from various people on engineering design. The potential sponsor, in this case another distributor, can have their vendors address various design issues. Editors come up with topics which the sponsor can take to its vendors. The effort will also feature pre-recorded podcasts. Print remains an initial launching point for the programs, for both readers and the advertisers. “Communities in print have been formed far longer than they have online,” says Pinto.

Once Advantage gets buy-in on the concept, it will bring in additional support, including designers and Web developers. Then the sales staff pitches the client. “Before we do that, the key is we’ve fleshed everything out with Web developers, editors and the production side so everybody understands what we’re doing,” says Pinto. “Typically, we go ahead without a sponsor. If the readers get a benefit, the sponsorships will follow.”
Pricing varies. A smaller program with both print and online exposure could be $5,000 per month while a larger program that includes print, custom newsletters and podcasts may be in excess of $10,000 per month. 

“With the Internet, reader service in the traditional sense went away for a more branding focus,” says Pinto. “Now it’s coming back full circle, and we need to quantify what we’re getting.”

Meredith 360’s Process Wheel

Meredith’s integrated solutions division, Meredith 360, bases its approach around four components: Insight, strategy, activation and measurement. “When I’m talking to a potential customer, most of time we start with audience and insights,” says senior vice president Jack Bamberger. “Once we’ve identified those needs and identify the opportunities for the advertisers, we then figure out objectives for them in those areas where we have common ground. We’ll then talk about building a strategy that can result in a solution.”

With one large retail client, Meredith roadmapped a gap-analysis on events important to their business (such as select holidays) and areas where the publisher could help, such as content licensing, registery and Hispanic marketing.

Sustaining an integrated package over the long term requires constant analysis and on-the-fly improvements. For a campaign for a major packaged goods marketer earlier this year, Meredith brought in both its new media strategies and “word-of-mouth” groups. “We’ll put a lot of different metrics against a campaign, be it word of mouth or interactive,” says Bamberger. “If we’re doing an accountability study or pre-and-post research, the goal is to make sure we’re always optimizing the campaign and always making it better. It takes a different kind of approach. It’s strategic, not transactional. I don’t sell pages, I sell solutions. I don’t sell any one specific asset intentionally.”

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