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Josh Gordon

Magazines: Most Credible Source of ‘Information About a Company’

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 07/21/2008-13:27 PM

In a recent post ("Dude! Young Americans Trust Business Magazines More Than Wikipedia!") I reviewed a 2008 Edelman Study that documented how young Americans rated business magazines as #1 in credibility as a source of company information, and Wikipedia #2.

But as Gregory Kohs correctly commented, the Edelman study is not focused on young Americans. It is a worldwide study focusing on business leaders.

While the "young American" finding was interesting, the more important finding is how business leaders, worldwide, perceive different media.

Posted here is a chart on media credibility as it relates to this broader audience.

As with young Americans, business magazines were #1 followed by stock or industry analyst reports, then followed by television.

This is a great report to bring on a call to document the credibility magazine advertising can bring to a marketing program.

Download the entire Edelman study here ...

Josh Gordon

Pure Plays Beat You by Loving Search More

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 07/16/2008-09:59 AM

Many print publishers I talk to are surprised by upstart "web only" media companies that drain online ad dollars out of their markets. Established media should hold all the cards; an established brand, a history in the market, and access to online list development via the magazine subscription process.

How do these web only "pure plays" stand a chance? Simple, they love search more than we do. A study from Borrell Associates entitled "What Local Media Web Sites Earn," uncovers the strategy in the regional magazine market that should raise alarm for any magazine, anywhere.

First, some news from the survey that challenges the conventional wisdom that your print brand gives a huge advantage online:

"The most financially successful local Web operations are venturing into page designs and product lines that have little to do with the medium that gave birth to them. Like their “new media” predecessors in radio in the 1920s and television in the 1950s, they are creating unique identities and breaking away from their print and broadcast roots."

On how pure plays get their traffic:

"Part of the growth is being driven by traditional local media companies selling advertising on their own sites. Most of it, however, comes from pure-play companies delivering lower cost advertising that intercepts consumers not as they are reading news online, but as they are using the Web to research products and prices."

"Intercept" web visitors as they "research products and prices"? That's "search." Without a print brand to drive visits to a site "search" is how they do it. Simply put, "pure plays" are playing the Search Engine Optimization game better, and are able to establish competitive brands as result.

Josh Gordon

Dude! Young Americans Trust Business Magazines More Than Wikipedia!

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 07/08/2008-14:34 PM

Which news sources young Americans find most credible might surprise you. Buried on page 14 in the "Edelman Trust Barometer 2008," an annual survey of trust related issues conducted by international PR giant Edelman, is a tiny bombshell that every business magazine publisher needs to see.

When Americans, ages 24 to 35, were asked "How credible is each source for information about a company?" Business magazines ranked first, Wikipedia was number two.

On your next call: Obviously this is a great study to show if you are selling advertising in a business magazine, but it also documents that trust exists in both traditional and new media. If you are selling an integrated package, this study documents that trust can come from a variety of online and offline sources.

Download the entire Edelman study ...

Josh Gordon

How Corona Can Help You Sell Ads

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 07/07/2008-10:15 AM

This is a great story you can use on a sales calls to put the importance of "search" into perspective, especially if you find an advertiser who is giving "search" total credit for sales that your media is helping to make. I heard this start off a Webinar led by

Young-Bean Song, VP Analytics at the Atlas Institute kicked off a Webinar recently by asking the audience to imagine they were in charge of Corona's marketing and had just observed that many people who walked by a neon Corona sign on their way into a bar bought a Corona. If you saw this behavior, you could conclude that the sign caused the sale. Then, you might think about dropping all TV, radio, and magazine advertising to put your entire marketing budget into neon signs! Sounds ridiculous. But this is what advertisers do when they give all credit for a sale to "search" as they look only at the last ad viewed, or that last click made before a sale.

How to use this anecdote on a call:

First off, don't bash search. Search is an essential tool that all smart advertisers should be using. Instead, use this story to start a discussion that puts your media into perspective with search so they are both viewed as important. Then ask, "Before people go to search, what media do you think are influencing their behavior?" Or, "What media messages do you think makes a potential customer initiate a search?"

Watch the Atlas Webinar here ...

Josh Gordon

Ex-Wired Editor: 'Whoever Has the Smartest Customers Wins'

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 07/02/2008-13:43 PM

Kevin Kelly, editor of Wired magazine in its early and truly great years, wrote a book with a chapter I highly recommend to everyone in media. It's called, "Relationship Tech, Start With Technology End With Trust."

Kelly, being a "content should be free" Internet kind of guy, has posted the entire contents of this book for free on the Web. I recommend reading it. So many of the issues we face in media are touched by his vision.

The next time you have a dialogue with a client, consider this from Kelly's book:

"Expertise now resides in fanatical customers. The world’s best experts on your product or service don’t work for your company. They are your customers, or a hobby tribe."

"Companies need user groups almost as much as users need them. User groups are better than advertising when customers are happy and worse than cancer when they are not. Used properly, aficionados can make or break products."

Good products and services are cocreated: The desires of customers grow out of what is possible, and what is possible is made real by companies following new customer desires. Because creation in a network is a cocreation, a prosumptive act, a multifaceted relationship must exist between the cocreators.

"Whoever has the smartest customers wins."

Read all of Chapter 9 here ...

Read the entire book, free, here ...

Josh Gordon

So, You've Been 'Optimized' Off the Schedule

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 07/01/2008-15:35 PM

Has this happened to you?

A digital ad agency representing a Fortune 500 corporation sends you an RFP for a two week online campaign. You respond professionally and promptly. Like a shock, word comes back, they are in! The news travels through your organization like wild fire, "We just broke into a Fortune 500 Corporation's digital ad budget!" As dozens of congratulatory e-mails surge through your company the future looks bright. The media runs. The media stops running. There is no follow up RFP. You can't get the media buyer on the phone and she does not respond to your emails. When you finally hear back, the response is one sentence apologizing for the delay in getting back and a mention that your media will not be considered for the future of the campaign. Ouch! What happened?

Here is how someone at the digital agency described the same process:

"We had a three month campaign to buy media for. In the first two weeks we ran three different versions of the creative in several size configurations. We ran ads in a wide range of websites to test the response.

We ran the two week test, then optimized the buy.

Of the three creative treatments, the one offering a free download performed best. Of the three ad sizes the leader board size performed best. We tried 30 different websites and found that eleven performed best so we continued with them and dropped the rest."

Don’t be discouraged by this process. On the surface it may look like media evaluation is out of your control. Not true. While results rule the day, PEOPLE still evaluate the results. Your job is to help your buyer understand why a response from your unique visitor is more valuable, or at least different, from any other. When your respond to an online RFP make sure the buyer understands what kind of response they can expect from your media AND why that response is important for the campaign. Do this at the time of the sale, not later. Selling media is still selling. To be successful, you need to sell the unique value of your visitor and his or her response BEFORE it runs.

Josh Gordon

'My Sales Staff Can't Sell Online!'

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 06/23/2008-14:55 PM

For me, these are scariest six words in media today:

"My sales staff can't sell online."

When I hear these words, I shudder. Somewhere behind the great walls and pleasant reception area of a media company a sales staff is in pain.

If you know of an organization using these words please pass this post on to them. You will be doing a good deed helping those in need.

If you work at a company using these scary words this unsolicited evaluation and advice is for you:

1. Your online products stink.

When I meet a sales staff with a "low online sales IQ" I usually find a company that also has a "low online product development IQ." Unlike print, most online advertising is sold on renewals. If an online product does not generate results, it will generate little repeat business and sales will tank taking the enthusiasm of your sales staff with it. If you are not getting online renewals you probably have a product performance problem, not a sales problem.

The most common misstep new online publishers make is to pin their hopes of online riches on selling banners on their newly launched Web site. But new Web sites typically take time to build an audience and rarely generate much traffic or results. As the goal of "immediately monetizing our Web site investment" fails, frustration sets in. A better approach is to use the Web site as a base to build out products that can generate revenue that do not depend on robust Web site traffic: Webcasts and newsletters.

2. You are losing business to online objections.

There are a lot of different online media products (newsletters, Webcasts, e-blasts etc.), each with its own unique set of objections. As you move to digital media your sales staff is going to get hit with a lot of new objections. If they don't know how to respond, sales will fade.

The most common objection is "your media did not generate enough clicks." The number of clicks per dollar content-oriented media, like yours, will never match number of clicks your advertisers will get by spending the same money on "search." This is where the "sales" part of "media sales" comes in. Are your salespeople really ready to overcome objections like "I can get more clicks per dollar from search"?

3. You are losing business to competitors you don't know.

The largest largest online ad category, by far, is "search" which barely existed ten years ago. Most media buyers have a "don't ask, don't tell" attitude with sharing their search plans with media salespeople. But if you train your sales staff to ask about "search" on their calls you will start to hear the loud sucking sound of your ad dollars going elsewhere. Search gets more credit for selling products and services than it should. When your sales staff starts to ask about search on calls they will find it is getting credit for sales to your audience that your media is actually making.

In addition, online "pure play" companies are siphoning off money. Just because your page counting service does not track them does not mean they are not taking money away from you. Most importantly they are staking out online space you will desperately need to grow, and someday possibly need to survive.

4. Your pricing needs revising.

Question: Which takes more effort to sell, a $10,000 ad page or a $1,000 ad banner? Answer: It takes about the same amount of effort.

If this is true, why waste the time selling banners?

If this conversation sounds familiar you should revisit your pricing. Web products like newsletters and fixed banner positions are often best priced like annuities, not traditional media. The goal is to encourage long term media commitments by offering discounts.

Is it really worth your salesperson's time to going back and forth fighting for premium pricing on a $1,000 banner? No. The annuity approach says; sell it for less but demand a 6 to 12 month commitment. Lock in the buy and then have your salespeople shift the time they would have spent fighting over a couple hundred bucks to launch another online product. The annuity approach advocates launching many online products priced to sell quickly with discounts for long term commitments. You make up for low prices with high volume. Your salespeople make lots of money because each sale is easier to make and carries a long term commitment. If you doubt this approach works there are a lot of very rich insurance salespeople in this world who will tell you it does.

Look, if your your salespeople "can't sell online" today something is getting away from you. Online ad sales nationwide are growing at a torrid rate, up 18.1 percent first quarter over last year. If you are not seeing significant growth in online advertising, don't blame your sales staff.

Worst case: you have given your salespeople products that don't generate response, not trained them to overcome the new objections they are hit with, not helped them identify their new competitors, and priced their products for short term selling.

Now you say, "My salespeople just can't sell online." If the above describes their situation, you are probably right.

Josh Gordon

You Only Get Five Words

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 06/17/2008-08:48 AM

As you send your next email to a client consider that the most important words you write will be in the headline, also known as subject line. If these words motivate your client to open and read your message, then the other words you write will count as well.

When writing email headlines, shorter is better. If you can boil your message down to, say, 5 words that capture the full benefit of reading your message you are on your way to a sale.

An instructive lesson on how to use 5 words with impact is created every year at the Webby Awards. The Webbys, known as the "Oscars of the Internet" give out awards for the best Web sites and has a Web centric way of time managing its "You really like really, really like me" moments; acceptance speeches are limited to 5 words.

Want help picking the next five words for your message line? Take a look at the artistry, brevity, and sheer cleverness as the top minds in the Web World accept their awards. Here are the five words media organizations used to accept their Webbys from last year:

MediaStorm - Webby: Technology changes, stories are timeless.

Magazine - People's Voice: The Pulitzers are history.

Movie and Film
Pan's Labyrinth - Webby/People's Voice: Check Sabrina. Thank you.

BBC News - Webby/People's Voice: Alan, we're thinking of you.

Newspaper - People's Voice: Honor. Grateful. Thank you. Corny.

The Guardian - Webby: Please free Alan Johnston now.

BBC Radio 1 - Webby: Free the archives.

Radio - People's Voice: Thanks to the best audience.

Current TV - Webby: Current, your TV doesn't suck.

The Office - People's Voice: Join the Dwight Schrute army.

And, bonus for reading this far, here's one from last year:

Artist of the Year
Beastie Boys - Special Achievement: Can anyone fix my computer?

Click here to read all the five-word acceptance speeches since the Webbys began. And click here to see Arianna Huffington's call to Huffington Post readers for help with hers.

Josh Gordon

Never Criticize a Marketer's Web Site

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 06/10/2008-19:55 PM

As more marketers see their Web site as the hub of their marketing efforts, reviewing that site before calling on them becomes essential. But you are not an expert on their business. What can you actually speak credibly about that a client will listen to?

Simple. Talk about your readers, their site visitors. Look carefully at their home page and think about your magazine/brand's readers and how they would respond.

Never criticize your client’s Web site. The marketing manager you are calling on could be its architect. But if you can engage your client in a dialog about trends effecting your readers and advocate prioritizing future content, you can help advance their online marketing goals.

The sad truth is that many Web sites are not constructed with a company’s customers—your readers—in mind. Many Web sites fulfill internal political goals first. Or they are designed against the claims of competitors. Primary reader benefits can take a back seat. Sharing your reader's point of view, in noncritical way by talking about future content, can make you a marketing hero.

At the recent "Selling Online Subscriptions" conference put on by MarketingSherpa, Linda Ragano, from ThomasNet, shared this a piece of research that documented a disconnect between what manufacturers posted on their Web sites, versus what the targeted buyers actually wanted to see.



If you sense this kind of disconnect on your client's site, use Linda's slide as a third party example to make the point in a noncritical way. Say "In some industries (read: not yours) there is disconnect between what readers/visitors want to see on a Web site and what gets posted." Show the chart. Then share insights you have about your readers/their site visitors might like to see in the future. Focusing on the future is a good way to share your knowledge without being critical of the present. Your client can then go to management and say, "Look what we can do to improve things in the future." Both you and your client become marketing heros.

Josh Gordon

A Guide to Adding Video to Your Site

Josh Gordon emedia and Technology - 06/09/2008-16:01 PM

While making money on video is elusive for many of us, beginning to post video is not. Early this year the IAB released a terrific basic guide to the emerging video ad market. While "In-Stream" linear video ads are the most common revenue generator, the guide shows the amazing tech advancement that have created a wide variety of ways to deploy video advertising on the Web.

There is also some advice on pricing:

"Prices in digital video suggest that the medium is quickly maturing. CPM-based pricing is the predominant model for buyers, particularly the In-Stream, Linear Ad format (pre-rolls, post-rolls, etc). CPMs can span a wide range and are based on a number of factors including the quality of the site’s content and users, targeting capabilities, and individual programming."

Here is a chart from the report describing the different ways to add video ads to a Web site:

IAB Video










Josh Gordon

To Integrate or Not To Integrate

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 06/03/2008-16:40 PM

“Someone needs to wake up every morning and focus on the Internet,” he said, adding that this person has to always consider how to increase the value of the net."

So said Meredith’s chief development officer, John Zieser at the FIPP Worldwide Magazine Marketplace (WMM) conference held in the U.K. December last year.

But Zieser also advocates integration: "However, to prevent net sales person and print sales persons from tripping over one another, there has to be one person overseeing everything in the brand, stewarding the brand across difference channels. For the brand’s biggest clients, though, there has to be 360 degree teams managing them across the media options, especially since most agencies today ask for print and multimedia 'bundles.'"

Here in the U.S. there is a trend toward staff integration, so I thought it important to post a contrasting view. As with most things publishing, your clients should decide for you. If they are asking for integrated proposals, you need to integrate your staff.

Read more of Zieser's comments here ...

Josh Gordon

The Online Objection Bible (Abridged)

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 06/02/2008-11:31 AM

At the City and Regional Magazine Association's annual meeting, I released the first edition of "The Online Objection Bible (abridged)." This 23-page document shares specific strategies that integrated media salespeople can use to overcome the following objections:

  • "All our online $ goes to search”
  • “Not enough clicks”
  • “Print is dead”
  • “We don’t buy integrated packages”

Download it for free here ...