Second to hearing nothing at all, the last thing you want to hear from your client, as an ad sales person, is something along the line of “my ad didn’t work, you suck.” If you’re hearing this from your customers, then you need a new strategy fast.
At that point, you need to pinpoint what broke down. “Post-launch, if there is a response issue, establish if it is on the customer side or yours,” says Marion Delaney, associate publisher/ad sales director for IEEE Media. “If it’s a performance issue on your end, consider changing the mix, timing, flow or target marketing of the package. If it’s on the customer side, is it due to no ‘call to action?’ The quality of the content? There are so many moving parts to an integrated sale that it just may be the fine tuning that makes it work.”
Building a Package that Works
When putting together a program, “innovative ad executions are key,” says Daniel Morris, general manager of Future US’ PC Gamer and Playstation: The Official Magazine. His company recently sold Burger King and Universal Pictures into an ad program on its recently-launched digital program called Qore, which is distributed on Playstation3. The program integrates high-definition rich-media ads like movie trailers and interstitials into each “episode,” which consists of game previews, demos, strategies and interviews.
“You have to look at every possible way to get the brand in front of the target audience,” says Laurel Didier, vice president and group publisher of Vance Publishing’s Interiors Media group whose products include four Web sites, four tradeshows, three publications, e-databases, lead retrieval, videos and so on. “Today, you just have to help your customers solve their problems. If it has to do with media, we will do it.”
But slapping together a slew of products isn’t the answer either if they’re not the right fit. For example, in a small, niche market or for high-end products, intimate solutions like live events and Webinars often work better than print.
“You really have to build a package with tangible results in mind to have one leg up on the competition,” Didier says. “If you sell custom solutions, they can’t be shopped out. It’s time-consuming and certainly harder for the sales rep but it will ensure return business.”
To encourage her staff to create longer-term, more comprehensive packages, Didier reminds them of the time saved from monthly calling. Also helpful are the compensatory benefits—every product is priced individually, which of course leads to a higher commission. In addition, her group works continuously with a sales trainer, an outside consultant, “to be a little more aggressive, to build programs that are going to deliver results, and also in managing expectations.”
Stopping Trouble Before It Starts
One of the most important things to do before firming up an ad program for launch is to manage clients’ expectations. “Until you know how they measure results, you can’t really deliver,” says Didier.
Her approach is to speak in person or over the phone with the client in order to ask a series of questions and follow-ups. “If someone says they want to see tangible leads, I ask, ‘How do you see those leads? What action needs to be taken?’” Once goals are set, a way for publisher and client to measure the results—whether via tear-out cards, dedicated phone numbers or URLs, research panels, etc.—needs to be established.