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Josh Gordon

'Is This a Time When You Can Afford to be Silent?'

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 10/23/2008-08:53 AM

The recent financial losses on Wall Street were bad news for investors, but good news for the traffic to financial Web sites. You can use this news item to move along your dialog on why it is essential to maintain media spending during a recession.  

First, the news item:

ComScore Media Metrix, a company that ranks the Top 50 U.S. Web Properties, found that in September 2008 visitors to financial sites were up substantially:

"Business/finance – news/research web sites saw a substantial increase in visitation in September, gaining 9 percent to more than 64 million visitors, while also increasing 16 percent in pages viewed and 29 percent in total time spent. These increases suggest that not only were more people visiting the sites in the category, but that they viewed more articles and content for longer periods of time on average.

Yahoo! Finance led the category with nearly 20 million visitors, a 30 percent jump from August. Several other sites experienced particularly strong growth amid the financial frenzy, including Russian financial site RBC.RU (up 155 percent to 1.2 million visitors), FoxBusiness.com (up 127 percent to 1.2 million visitors), and Google Finance (up 67 percent to 1.4 million visitors)."

On a call:

No matter what industry or product category you sell in, if it has been impacted by the recession, this news item can help you.

First, share the story how traffic on financial Web sites has shot up. Next, have a dialog about why. When the bad financial news came, investors (your client may be one of them) needed to know what their options were. They quickly reevaluated their financial product holdings, evaluated new ones, and decided to hold steady or make changes. Many, if not most, were focusing on issues and products they normally pay little attention to, as the increase in Web traffic indicates.   

Get it? Bad news drives attention and reevaluation of products that buyers routinely do not think a lot about. How many of of your advertisers have products that can be described in this way?

Now ask your advertisers, "Is this a time when you can afford to be silent?"

Read the full comScore report here ...

[IMAGE: Credit]

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Josh Gordon

The Recession Ad Sales Bible (Abridged)

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 10/08/2008-14:47 PM

This is the ultimate resource, a collection of blog posts and articles on how to sell media during a recession. I hope it helps.

This was first shared a couple weeks ago at the FOLIO: Show in Chicago during my presentation entitled “Making Your Numbers in a Down Economy."

This is a free, 26-page Word document with live links to all the original source material. It's on an older version of Word so you should be able to share it with anyone. Feel free to distribute. Good luck out there!

Click here to download ...

BTW, my consulting firm offers sales training classes on selling in recession. Just saying.

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Josh Gordon

How to Convince Advertisers to Keep Advertising in a Recession

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 10/06/2008-15:00 PM

An excellent one sheet entitled "Recession Marketing Strategies" makes a great case why your clients should keep advertising during a recession is found on the Clark Company's Web site.

I like this piece because it is concise, full of specific examples, and highly credible coming from an ad agency—not a publishing association. This is a find, written in 2001 during the last recession, but the advice is just a true today.

Here is one example:

Over the years hundreds of studies have been conducted to prove companies should maintain advertising during a recession. In the 1920’s advertising executive Roland S. Vaile tracked 200 companies through the recession of 1923. He reported in the April 1927 issue of the Harvard Business Review that the biggest sales increases throughout the period were rung up by companies that advertised the most. After World War II, Buchen Advertising, Inc. decided to plot the sales of a large number of advertisers through successive recessions. In 1947, it began measuring the annual advertising expenditures of each company. When they correlated the figures with sales and profit trends before, during and after the recessions of 1949, 1954, 1958 and 1961, they found that almost without exception sales and profits dropped off at companies that cut back on advertising. Their studies also revealed that after the recessions ended, those companies continued to lag behind the ones that had maintained their advertising budgets. In 1979 another study by ABP/Meldrum & Fewsmith, covering the recession of 1974-75 and post-recession years, showed similar findings. They found that “companies which did not cut advertising expenditures during the recession years (1974-1975), experienced higher sales and net income during those two years and the two years following than companies which cut ad budgets in either or both recession years.”

The findings of six more recession studies to date by the group present formidable evidence that cutting advertising in times of economic downturns can result in both immediate and long-term negative effects on sales and profit levels. Meldrum & Fewsmith’s former Senior VP, J. Welsey Rosberg reports “ I have yet to see any study that proves timidity is the route to success. Studies consistently have proven that companies that have the intelligence and guts to maintain or increase their overall marketing and advertising efforts in times of business downturns will get the edge on their timid competitors."

There are many examples of businesses benefiting from increased ad budgeting in a recession. A MarketSense study during the 1989-91 recessionary period shows brands such as Jif Peanut Butter and Kraft Salad Dressing increased their advertising and experienced sales growth of 57% and 70% respectively. During that time, most of the beer industry cut budgets, but Coors Light and Bud Light increased theirs and saw sales jump 15% and 16% respectively. Among fast food chains, Pizza Hut sales rose 61% and Taco Bell's 40% thanks to strong advertising support, reducing McDonald's sales by some 28% MarketSense concluded the study by reporting. "The best strategy for coping with a recession is balanced exploitation of ad spending for long-term consumer motivation, plus promotion for short term sales boosts.

Now, having set the stage, The Clark Company offers these actions steps for marketers:

• Don't cut your advertising budget, increase it. Let your competition cut theirs.
When you increase your spending, you increase your share of voice. If your competitors cut back, your message grows even stronger.
• Develop a strategic marketing plan so you don't waste money advertising the wrong message in the wrong place to the wrong audience.
• Reassure your customers. Implement marketing strategies that allow buyers to feel they are minimizing risk by doing business with you.
• Achieve greater media efficiency by taking advantage of softer rates and special promotions.
• Start sponsoring. This type of awareness advertising gives your business valuable exposure to targeted, core audiences.
• Keep your friends. You know who your loyal customers are. Keep in touch with them and let them know what you have to offer.
• Maintain continuity to sustain awareness. Advertising works cumulatively so you have to remind people frequently about your brand or they'll forget you.
• Step up public relations efforts. Be sure to maintain a media presence with smart, effective PR programs.
• Don't "cheapen" your advertising by trying to save on creative or production costs. Your customers will notice and worry about quality. This is a time to stress quality and value. I recommend you printout the entire piece and share it with your sales staff.

I recommend sharing this with your sales staff and/or e-mailing the link below to all your advertisers.

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Josh Gordon

In a Recession, Rerationalize the Media Buy

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 09/03/2008-13:17 PM

An advertiser recently canceled his schedule because his biggest competitor did. For years, his company's rationale for budgeting for an ad campaign was to be present when competition was. When the competition left, so did they.

After many discussions, I kept the advertiser but I had to rerationalize the buy. They soon realized that with their competition cutting back they could achieve a "share of voice" advantage by continuing to advertise.

The reasons companies advertise in a recession are often different than in good times. Sometimes I get surprised. I think I know an account and what makes them tick, then along comes a recession, and I have to get to know them all over again.

The key question to ask is, "How is your company responding to the recession?"

Are they:

  • Eliminating products that are marginally profitable?
  • Coming out with cost-effective versions of existing products?
  • Trying to offer larger packages to consolidated buyers?
  • Introducing new or different products?
  • Offering more cost-effective support over the Internet?
  • Cutting back their dealer network?
  • Whatever the strategy is, get your advertiser to talk about it.

Then show how advertising can help them communicate these moves to customers. Once done you are on your way to making a sale that is driven forward by the recession, not eliminated by it.

P.S. I'll be in Chicago on Sept. 22 giving a talk about selling through a recession at the FOLIO: Show.

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Josh Gordon

What to Tell a Client Who Wants to Cut Their Marketing Budget During a Recession

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 08/20/2008-11:23 AM

Earlier this year legendary Wall Street giant Bear Stearns collapsed and was acquired, in crisis, for a pathetic two bucks a share. But some of their problems started back with the 1990 recession when rival Merrill Lynch used the recession to pull ahead of them.

According to an Interbrand study "Leveraging Brand Value in a Downturn":

"Merrill Lynch was seeing the return on its early ’90s branding investment in its ability to build and leverage its reputation in a broader market. It may have outspent Bear Stearns to do so, but the positive return was clear."

How clear? Look at the chart from the study comparing indexed share prices of the two competitors during and just after, the 1990 recession. Merrill Lynch's "outspending" had a huge impact, redefined the competitive landscape between the rivals, and set the stage for Bear Stearns' demise.

For some companies a recession is a time to weather the storm; cut expenses, trim the staff, wait for better times ... and slash the marketing budget. But other companies see a recession as strategic time to take the offensive. When competition focuses more on internal cost cutting they focus less on customers.

The study also documents two other pairs of rivals whose competition was redefined during the last recession: Wall-Mart pulls ahead of Sears, and Gillette head of Colgate Palmolive.

The report concludes with 10 points for managing during a recession including. Here are the last two:

"9. Keep Talking. Don’t stop communicating with your customers. In a downturn, people don’t stop buying;they just buy more cleverly. Take advantage of the general decrease in marketing spending to grab a larger share of voice and define yourself in a less cluttered marketplace. In good times, the best tactic may be advertising, but now is the time to evaluate less traditional ways of communicating with your customers.

10. Define Minimum Standards of Upkeep. It is important to understand what brand investment must be sustained in order to protect your asset. The amount of dollars necessary to retain your brand’s value is money worth spending.It is important to understand what brand investment must be."

How to Use This on a Call

Download the study and the article on Bear Stearns' demise. Keep them in your bag. If a client tells you they want to cut their marketing budget because of the recession, offer the Bear Stearns story as a cautionary tale. Ask if they think their competition might use the recession to steal market share from them.

Download the entire study here ...

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Josh Gordon

A Digital Magazine Comes of Age

Josh Gordon emedia and Technology - 08/18/2008-10:02 AM

If you have read my posts over the last year you know that I believe strongly in digital magazines. But early on I predicted that unless digital magazines can be proven to be an effective advertising platform, not just a delivery platform, they will fade into oblivion.

It's very nice that some consumer magazines now send out digital copies to "enhance" print subscriptions. It's also very pleasant that more b-to-b magazines send out digital magazines to stretch their BPA audits. But there is no long-term future in this.

The future of digital magazines belongs to content publishers who use them to capture a unique content niche, crawl into it, define it, dominate it, and attract a unique audience to it. Once that audience is established, advertisers will follow. Bravo to the publisher of Avantoure who has done just this.

Here's an e-mail from publisher Serafima Bogomolova:

Hi Josh,

I agree with everything you have said. I spotted the trend back in 2006 when I launched digital only lifestyle interactive magazine Avantoure (express view, site www.avantoure.com).

I have decided to go digital only because I believed that this is something new, exciting, and I can create a new content, a new magazine on an innovative digital platform. I did not want to do a duplicate of a print magazine because I think it has no future. It has been extremely hard to promote my publication as I am an independent digital publisher. I have spent months and months explaining to potential partners and advertisers all the benefits of digital only. In 2006 and 2007 they remained vaguely interested and did not recognize the potential ...

I am very happy that 2008 is a turning point for all innovative digital publishers and I hope advertisers will also understand soon how cool, modern, innovative, effective, and useful digital only magazines and publications are!

Thank you very much for your supportive views on digital.

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Josh Gordon

How to Sell in Turbulent Times

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 08/13/2008-11:15 AM

A terrific study was released earlier this year from DowJones advising that the key to success in selling in a recession comes not from looking at what is different for salespeople but rather at what is different at the companies they sell to. Researchers Jim Dickie & Barry Trailer studied corporate organization during the 2001 recession and concluded that the biggest change impacting sales was a shift in how client organizations bought things.

"Then the economy tanked, sales started to decrease for these firms, and the CFOs stepped in. They mandated that since revenues in were declining, expenses out would be decreasing as well. Enter the era of Buying by Committee: Decision-making power was removed from the hands of the individual and relegated instead to group consensus. A colleague of ours the Senior Vice President of a Fortune 500 firm saw his personal buying authority reduced from $2 million to $50,000."

When you sell media in recessionary times consider that your clients will have more decision makers involved in their sales. While this presents a new challenge for your clients, it is a great sales opportunity for you.  

On a call

This study makes a great case for advertising with content based media. When there many new people involved in a buying decision, often their influence does not neatly follow their job description or title. As result, outbound targeting becomes more difficult. It becomes harder to reach them with direct mail or targeted lists or visits.

Download and share this study with your client. Then sell the idea that the right content (in your media) will attract the right decision makers no matter what their official title or function is. 

If they are suddenly involved in buying submarine parts, safe to say, they will be motivated to read up on them. 

Download "Successful Selling in Turbulent Times -  Dealing with an Economic Slowdown" for free on the SellingPower Web site

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Josh Gordon

Why Overly Commercial Webinars Fail

Josh Gordon emedia and Technology - 08/12/2008-13:28 PM

From time to time I find myself in a conversation with an advertiser who wants to sponsor an overly commercial webinar. Bad idea. Webinars that push product and do not provide useful information usually bomb.

Share this chart with them to explain that attendance in a webinar is voluntary and unless the event is honestly presented and the content has�real value attendees will leave their sponsored webinar with a less favorable attitude than when they started.

The key metric that tells you your webinar is failing is the number of attendees who click out of your event before it is over.

This chart from a Marketing Sherpa study measured the reasons attendees give for leaving a webinar before the program is finished.

From the study:

"Lack of honesty about content heads the list, followed closely by less-than-dynamic presenters who need better communication skills.

Key takeaway:

Misleading visitors is often an innocent mistake. Marketers write copy about webinars given by internal or external experts, and the true topic gets lost in translation. Sometimes, the marketer manipulates the topic by including what he thinks the audience wants to hear. Presenters should always get a look at and sign off on the main topics being pitched by marketing. Opt to under-sell and over-deliver.

Another key takeaway:

People like presenters who grab their attention, even if they're not funny (although being entertaining doesn't hurt). But they do need to be sufficiently dynamic. Unskilled presenters who read from slides will bore attendees and see head counts drop steadily throughout the session.

Webinar speakers also feel stress, although they are under less pressure than those at live events. Often, in technology sales, talented scientists and programmers don't turn out to be dynamic speakers. What you gain in authority at a webinar, you will lose in boredom. Consider sending such folks to speaker training or use a two-presenter approach. Adding a team member with great communication skills can offset a dry presenter.

Shorter webinars are in vogue now – despite no evidence that says shorter presentations garner more opt-ins or more enthusiastic reviews. At the same time, respondents don't seem too worried about webinars that run a full hour. Let the content dictate length, and leave plenty of time for questions. If you expect certain questions, consider saving some relevant content for Q&A. The change in format can enliven the audience."

Don't let bad webinars happen to your clients.

Click here to read more about the study.

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Josh Gordon

Innovation: Key to Surviving the Recession?

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 08/07/2008-12:51 PM

Media buyers have noticed. In the ad recession, we sellers have to work harder and innovate more to make the same sale. On the Media Life Web site, written for media buyers and planners, an article ran last week entitled "When the going's tough, the tough sell." Writer Diego Vasquez dug into the innovation being used to chase fewer ad dollars:

Conde Nast Traveler’s Hughes says it’s about coming up with better ideas. “You have to be really out there, you have to be aggressive as a sales team. Advertisers are demanding great programs, and they scrutinize every dollar they spend. The titles that are hungry for the business and coming up with good ideas are going to win the business."

Says Rachael Ray’s Balaban: “This is when it really counts to have good product and smart programs--building a base of smart programs that are unique to our brand and compelling enough to advertisers that makes them feel they’re getting so much value with their dollars. “

Says Tom Morrissy, OK!'s publisher: "Those who have strong programs in place and are strong brands will do fine. It just won’t be one of those years where everyone is breaking open champagne bottles.”

Popular Mechanics’ Congdon observes that good programs have a way of rooting out ad dollars. “It's not so much that ad budgets are totally cut. Advertisers are just being cautious. But if you keep going in and keep bringing fresh ideas, they'll still have that money."

Valerie Salembier, publisher of Harper's Bazaar, says it’s also about being where your competitors are not.

"Things are tough, but they’ve been tough before and all of these magazines continue to publish and last and endure,” she says.

“In terms of selling advertising, it is back to basics 101. Get out there and make the calls. You don’t get ads by sitting behind your desk on the phone, you get them sitting at your client’s desk.

Claudia Malley, vice president and U.S. publisher of National Geographic, says it’s also about being able to stand apart from your competitors, and a big part of that is reader engagement, which she says resonates with marketers.

“Integration will be a key. Those brands who can differentiate by being a brand leader and then have communication with consumers across all media will be the ones that succeed.”

But this is the kind of article you would find in FOLIO: magazine. The fact that it ran in Media Life, which targets readers on the buying side, tells us that expectations for innovation are now higher.

Read the entire article here ...

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Josh Gordon

Shocker: Those Who Google are Lazy

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 07/31/2008-09:00 AM

A study released from the Microsoft owned Atlas Institute says that 71% of searches are for navigation only. Why should you care?

Many marketers believe that when a customer uses "search" to visit their Web site they are in a critical stage of the buying process as they source, research, and evaluate products. If true, search is extremely important and deserves a huge piece of the online ad budget.

But what if this is not true? What if most searches are just a lazy way to navigate to familiar Web sites? Too lazy to type in that whole exact URL? Forget it! Type a familiar few words into a search engine and you get there with less effort.

This view of search sees it as a lazy man's navigation tool used to get where you were already going. There is no contribution to buying decisions so it is of little use in the marketing of products. The Atlas study tried to figure out which of these were true. They studied what people actually type into the search engine and how often they did it.

Here is what they measured:

1. Repeat visitors

According to Atlas, "if a user clicked on multiple ads leading to a given advertiser’s web site, we considered each instance after the first to be a repeat visit. We considered repeat visits to be navigational because they imply prior knowledge of the advertiser."

2. People who type a brand name, URL, or website name into search engine

According to Atlas, “a click was assigned to this segment if the key phrase associated with the click included the advertiser’s brand name or explicitly matched the advertiser’s Web site.”

For example, if you want to go to www.acmefootsavers.com you would fall into this category if you typed in: acme foot, acme ft, foot savers, acme savers, etc.

Here is how Atlas came up with the 71 percent number: Only 29 percent of search users were first time, non-branded users....or 71 percent were navigational only users.

On a sales call: If you sell advertising for a content publisher the online ads you sell are always in the shadow of search. Nationwide search accounts for 41 percent of all online ad revenues. Never "dis" search. Search is an extremely valuable service that all marketers should be using. But often search gets more credit for sales than it deserves and gets credit for the influence your publication's brand is delivering. I have called on accounts that "have no online ad budget" because all their online dollars went to search. You can use this study to help put this into perspective. Search is important. Media form content publishers is important. Your online media buy should include both.

Click here to download a PDF to take on your next call ...

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Josh Gordon

Advice on Building a Social Network from CIO

Josh Gordon emedia and Technology - 07/30/2008-09:48 AM

I found a great article posted on the Syndicom Web site from CIO magazine on how to develop an online community. Here are four points I pulled out that relate to content publishers:

1. Design for Evolution

Because communities of practice are organic, designing them is more a matter of shepherding their evolution than creating them from scratch. As the community grows, new members bring new interests and may pull the focus of the community in different directions.

2. Open a Dialog Between Inside and Outside

Effective community design is built on the collective experience of community members. Only an insider can appreciate the issues at the heart of the domain, the knowledge that is important to share, the challenges his field faces, and the latent potential in emerging ideas and techniques. Only an insider can know who the real players are and their relationships. Good community design requires an understanding of the community’s potential to develop and steward knowledge, but it often takes an outside perspective to help members see the possibilities

3. Invite Different Levels of Participation

People participate in communities for different reasons. We commonly see three main levels of community participation. The first is a small core group of people who actively participate in discussions. As the community matures, this core group takes on much of the community’s leadership. But this group is usually rather small, only 10 percent to 15 percent of the whole community.

At the next level outside this core is the active group. These members attend meetings regularly and participate occasionally in the community forums, but without the regularity or intensity of the core group. The active group is also quite small, another 15 percent to 20 percent of the community.

A large portion of community members are peripheral and rarely participate. Instead, they keep to the sidelines, watching the interaction of the core and active members

4. Focus on Value

Value is key to community life because participation in most communities is voluntary. But the full value of a community is often not apparent when it is first formed. Moreover, the source of value often changes during the life of the community.

Communities need to create events, activities and relationships that help their potential value emerge and enable them to discover new ways to harvest it rather than attempting to determine their expected value in advance.

For more great articles on creating a social network, see the Syndicom resources page.

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Josh Gordon

Keeping People Interested in Facebook Groups is Extremely Tough

Josh Gordon emedia and Technology - 07/23/2008-16:34 PM

According to a 2007 Pew Research study, 55 percent of U.S. teens have created a profile on an online social network and use it regularly. If you want advice on how to start a successful social network, ask a kid! I found this great advice on the Young/Upstart blog advising how to start a social network that plays to our core competency as content publishers:

Creating a Facebook group is the easy part. Inviting people to join the group is not too difficult either (especially if there's a really good cause behind it). Keeping people interested, however, is extremely tough. Key to keeping people? Content. Regular, relevant content that incite and maintain conversations.

I was invited to join this Facebook group. It has a great cause. To my disappointment, it was utterly devoid of content-no images, no discussion topics. Nothing.

Needless to say, there really wasn't anything for me to join.

Tip: Add some good content that will spark off initial conversations (for the above group, a discussion thread that asks people what are the key reasons they don't have time to spend with their families), BEFORE you start inviting members. People like to see activity.

While content on social networks is typically user-generated, it takes original content generated by the site sponsor to get things started. As content publishers, content is what we do. So, go ahead. Start a social network on your website with the full confidence that your place at this table has been verified by a twentysomething blogger!

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Check out FOLIO:'s new social network, MediaPRO!]

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