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Josh Gordon

Push vs. Pull

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 05/27/2008-09:28 AM

As I enthusiastically pitched the latest, coolest, online marketing product, my client cut me short: "I sell a dull product. Nobody will click on a banner to read more about it. People buy it because they need it, and when they don’t need it they don’t want to know anything more about it."

The core benefit on online media is engagement. But what happens when your client is selling a dull product and true engagement is unlikely?

For many, there is another category of dull products getting a lot of attention these days—presidential candidates. With many contests extremely close, it is often not the engaged, well informed voter who decides elections but rather the undecided, unengaged swing voter who might see all candidates as very dull.

That is why we see a curious pattern of media spending. While all candidates are using the Internet to raise money and engage their base of voters, the vast bulk of the outgoing media spend is on television because it is a "push" media.

According to eMarketer on those undecided voters:

"Generally speaking these are the typical targets who are difficult to reach using the Internet. That’s why in this political season, 50-80% of ad budgets are going into television, whereas only 1-2% of political ad budgets are spent online. It’s not to say the candidates are not using the Internet to their huge advantage, Barack Obama’s amazing online funding machine has proved to be the key advantage to his success. But when it comes to reaching out towards the uninterested, the uninvolved, and the even bored participants, very often traditional media there’s a big advantage over the newer online ones.”

If your advertiser’s product is very dull, put the "engagement" talk on the back burner and talk about the virtues of “push” media. Push media succeeds in these situations because viewing the ads is not voluntary. When you are selling very dull products forget about "permission marketing" you need to recommend "push." Now share the story, stated above, about the presidential race. Now sell the push media you have, Print media, television, and radio are "push media." For online media sell e-blasts, which “push” a message to a target audience's inbox.

Estimates as to how much has been spent so far this year online on political campaigns (not much):


Josh Gordon

Engage or Die

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 05/19/2008-15:38 PM

Denise Shiffman’s new book "Age of Engage" is insightful, illuminating and potentially terrifying for media sales people. Shiffman lays bare what the marketers we sell our ads to will be expecting in the next 10 years and sees a future requiring different skill sets and media products. In this world media consumers demand total engagement and control over the content we now dispense at our discretion.

Although she offers little specific advice on transforming our current products into Web 2.0 versions she clearly describes what expectations of all Web products and services must be. Here is a handy chart from the book describing expectations of the old vs. new Web:

 According to Denise:

"The original, static Web drew millions of companies online to offer information about their products, and to sell their wares. The second coming of the Web has transformed the online marketplace into an interactive, personal, and communal space. Consumers have been transformed from passive viewers and choosers to active and powerful beacons collectively creating winners and losers. Breaking through the clutter of voices in this new marketplace is an audacious challenge for any marketer. E-mail, viral, search, social, widgets, avatars, authenticity,and story make up the new language. New media, tools, and technologies have to be mastered to remain in the game. In this reinvention of marketing, it is the fast, the unique, the innovative and creative, the socially connected, and most importantly, those who engage their audience that will win."

How well will your next media products engage your community? Your future could depend on it.

Josh Gordon

Nine Out of Every 10 Doctors Prefer Print

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 05/15/2008-13:29 PM

No matter what sector or industry you are in, this is a great study to sell the value of print advertising. The study—"What Doctors Think"—documents how physicians prefer to receive their professional information, and magazines top of their list. The study has implications beyond just medical magazines because of the importance and prestige doctors have. The study, with 231 physicians responding, also covered a variety of other perceptions doctors have on the media that serve them.

Use it on a call.

Talk about the importance physicians play in our society. Talk about how, unlike almost any other profession, the information they receive will impact life or death decisions. Then show them the chart. When information absolutely must be accurate and trusted, magazines deliver.

There is another reason to use this study. On April 4th I posted on the just released MediaVest study that measured the amount of trust consumers felt for different media in four major categories. In the fashion, food, and entertainment fields, magazines were found to be most trusted, but in health and wellness onlline sources were tops. Michael Turro posted a comment raising the concern that had print fallen behind with readers in the only category "that could kill them." Cheer up print reps! You can now use this study in conjunction with the MediaVest study. While consumers may find online media in the health and wellness field more trustworthy than print, doctors do not agree.

Download the entire "What Doctors Think" study here ...

Josh Gordon

Are You Good-Looking Enough to Sell Magazine Ads?

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 05/05/2008-11:45 AM

You might not like this.

A recent poll of Cafepharma visitors, a Web site for salespeople in the pharmaceutical industry, asked how a salesperson's physical attractiveness affects their selling. The survey was posted with a big helping of skeptical humor, with only three possible answers to "Which type of rep gets the best results?":

1. An average looking rep that knows their products and can sell.

2. Doesn't matter. Too many other factors come into play regarding sales.

3. A super attractive rep that is an idiot and can't sell.

A bit over 17 percent, about one in six, picked #3.

Some may find this funny, some not. But it raises a serious question of how we as individual salespeople differentiate ourselves in the field. If what we sell and how we sell it becomes a commodity ... what's left?

Do you have to attractive to be a media sales rep? I don't think so. But many may disagree.


Josh Gordon

Recommend a URL in Your Client's Next Ad

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 05/02/2008-09:48 AM

One way to sell more print ad space is to encourage your advertisers to add a campaign and magazine specific URL to their next print ad. It is one extra step. But here is what happens; a readers sees the ad and is motivated to search the Internet for more information. By using a campaign and magazine-specific URL, the advertiser can track which campaign and which magazine drove the reader to their Web site.

A post on Clickz by James Hering offered tips on how to use campaign specific URLs. Hering references research that indicates many do not like to enter long URLs with a lot of extra slash marks. As result, some marketers now favor campaign-specific URLs, often based on the the tag line of the campaign:

Examples include:

Burger King: and



Universal Studios:

Lincoln Mercury:

Dish Network:


Now add the magazine initials or just a number to designate a specific media and your client can have it all. Is it better to use a custom campaign URL or extensions of the brand URL? Using the brand URL, of course, reinforces the brand. Which approach is better? The answer: the one that gets your advertiser to include a magazine-specific reference so your media gets tracked!

Josh Gordon

Pretend Your Print Product Doesn't Exist

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 04/28/2008-12:17 PM

It is happening right now in many many industries and sectors. Web-only competitors, "pure play" online publishers, are sneaking in and winning ad sales away from the online products of print publishers. How can they do this? Don’t we have an insurmountable advantage by having a print product continually advancing our brand in the physical world? How do the pure play Internet companies even stand a chance?

"Pure plays" routinely beat the products of print based publishers because they design a new newsletter, webinar, web section, or website, by starting with a clean sheet of paper. Since they have no print vehicle to get them started the "pure plays" design a media product desperate for attention. Every click through they get has is funneled from somewhere else so there has to be an amazingly good reason for a visit. This “clean sheet of paper” approach results in a high emphasis on focus and functionality. It takes an extremely sharp content focus to stand out against the millions of online destinations and when a visitor arrives there must be a high functionality that keeps visitors coming back.

Print people are spoiled. Too often when a magazine launches a web product the editorial focus the same or similar to the positioning as the print product. As for functionality, too often the mission statement is, “To extend the magazine brand onto to the Internet.” Big mistake. Your website needs its own editorial focus, and mission. While it should compliment your print product it cannot just extend it.

To compete, pretend your print product does not exist, then ask, "Given all online destinations and content on the web, why should anyone visit my website?" To beat the pure play publishers, you have to think like one. You too have to start with that clean sheet of paper and work your way forward.

Josh Gordon

Why RFPs Get Misused

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 04/23/2008-13:30 PM

RFPs are a game. As a best practice for buyers, RFPs simplify the buying process and weed out media that is off the mark, allowing more time with more approprate media. But with buyers under pressure to make decisions more quickly, RFPs get misused. When they become the primary tool of evaluation, insightful media buying sufferers.

  • "So I'm supposed to tell you why my site is better than the 180 other sites that received an RFP?"
  • "Great, another 'we expect totally out-of-the-box thinking' proposal!"
  • "Gee, we get a grand total of two hours to pull together a rock-solid proposal that nails the objective. How convenient."
  • "We're honored to be invited to be a strategic partner and meet the client's long-term goals with the exciting test budget of $5,000?"

From the buyer side:

  • "Why don't publishers respond to my requests in a timely manner?"
  • "I asked for a proposal with a limit of $20,000, yet I get a package for $50,000. What's up with that?"
  • "I clearly asked for specific targeting criteria, yet 80 percent of what they're offering doesn't meet the stated objectives."
  • "Ten seconds after emailing the RFP, I get a call with questions for the same information that's noted in it. Didn't he read it?"

Hering makes the following suggestions for media sellers:

Timing is key. Responding in a timely manner is fundamental to a buyer who is trying to wrangle several proposals. Always acknowledge when you get an RFP and note if you plan to participate. (Note to sales managers: Make sure you properly transition accounts. Nothing is more frustrating to a buyer than sending an important request to a dead email account or blank voicemail box.)

  • Respond appropriately. If the RFP is not clear about where questions should be directed, find out how you can inquire, then provide questions in written form.
  • Read the proposal from top to bottom at least twice before you ask your first question. You'll be amazed at how things can become clearer after a second reading.
  • Meet the request. Sure, you've got sales goals, but be sure to totally address the request first. Then, provide additional options. Let's face it, almost everyone loves options. Still, we all get turned off if our initial request is overlooked. Nail the request (including the budget), then upsell all you want.
  • No rug-pulling, please. Make sure the inventory is there when you sell it. If it's perishable, just make sure the buyer knows the details and any corresponding restrictions. Nothing will drive a buyer insane faster than getting a client excited about an opportunity only to have to call back 10 minutes later with an "Oops, we didn't have all the details" apology.

Just keep in mind, every time you get an RFP someone is inviting you to do business with them!

Josh Gordon

Magazines Top Source of Readership Trust

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 04/14/2008-08:41 AM

According to a study by MediaVest, magazines are more trusted than online for content in the three areas of entertainment, food/cooking, and fashion/beauty. But online is more trusted for health/wellness information.

Here are the five key findings of the study:

1. Print is more trusted than online in every category but Health/Wellness. Readers find print more trustworthy than online by a margin of 24 percentage points for Fashion/Beauty, 7 points for Food/Cooking, and 5 points for Entertainment.

2. Readers find online more Health/Wellness more trustworthy online than in print by a margin of 3 points.Despite the abundance of online content, few see online replacing print, with just 12% of respondents strongly believing that a publisher’s website could easily replace the printed magazine within the next 5 years.

3. Titles fail to deliver value online. 79% of dual magazine/online users agree that the online site should provide something new & different from the magazine. However, only 44% strongly believe that the publishers' sites are actually offering something unique.

4. Low duplication between print and online. Hovering between 1% and 6% for all categories but entertainment, where for certain titles, duplication reaches 10% at most.

5. Fashion/Beauty relies most faithfully on the printed publication, as it focuses on general trends. People are seven times more likely to go to the print publication for this category.

Read more here ... 

Josh Gordon

Magazines Trigger More Web Searches Than TV

Josh Gordon emedia and Technology - 04/08/2008-09:21 AM

Yet another study supports the strength of magazines as an online traffic driver. BIGresearch's August 07 released "Simultaneous Media Survey" of 15,439 consumers shows magazines as the top offline media driving Web traffic. Here is the chart that tells the tale:

Top 10 Media that Trigger an Online Search (Adults 18+)
51.6% Magazine
47.7% Read an Article
44.2% TV / Broadcast
41.3% Newspaper
35.6% Cable TV
35.3% Face-to-Face Communication
33.8% Coupons
30.3% Email Advertising
29.3% Direct Mail
28.2% Radio

Use it on a call:

This study does NOT say that magazines generate more Web traffic than online media, such as web banners etc. This study compares offline media (with the odd exception of "e-mail advertising"). The argument you have to first make, on a call, is that people still spend most of their lives OFF line. Then present the case for magazines as the top offline Web traffic builder for when those offline people get back online.

Josh Gordon

The Next Phase for Digital Magazines

Josh Gordon emedia and Technology - 04/03/2008-15:58 PM

Remember your magazine's first Web site?

For most publications it was a simple copy and paste job. We copied content from the magazine and pasted it right onto the the new Web site. The big question of the day was, "Should we hold off posting the Web content, as it might hurt readership of the identical print content?" Then something unexpected happened that changed everything:


That's right, nothing happened. Because we discovered that no new Web content meant no new Web visitors, and as result, no new ad dollars. The dialog abruptly shifted to how we could develop fresh content for the magazine's Web site and how to monetize it.

That was 10 years ago. So why are so many publishers having the same discussion, right now, about digital magazines?

I've heard it all over the magazine industry, "We tried publishing a digital magazine, but nothing happened." How soon we forget ... no new content equals no incremental new readership and no incremental new revenue.

But what if you put new content into digital magazines? What if they were not just a duplication of your magazine but an extension into niche areas unprofitable to service with print? What if they were utilized as a new content platform, not just a means of digital distribution? What if they were created to function as graphical, upscale newsletters in industries or categories where graphical appeal counts?

The trend has already started. Winding Road is a digital only car magazine that gets over 180,000 unique readers viewing an average of 22 pages every month. Click on the link and take a look. It could be your future.

P.S.: Why no industry association has taken the time to research the basics of how digital magazines work as an advertising platform is a mystery to me. I'd like to help start that discussion with anyone willing.

Josh Gordon

Social Networking is Hot, But is It a Business?

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 04/01/2008-10:25 AM

In earlier posts I have cautioned against adding online products to your magazine's brand portfolio because other publications seem to succeed at using them. There are strategic reasons for all online products but they may not fit your requirements. For example, blogs are fantastic web site traffic builders that can lift site traffic and thus rates. But trying to monetize blogs directly by selling sponsorships on them is typically much harder.

This week's Economist turns that same analysis to social networking and comes up with a similar cautionary tale:

"The big internet and media companies have bid up the implicit valuations of MySpace, Facebook and others. But that does not mean there is a working revenue model. Sergey Brin, Google's co-founder, recently admitted that Google's “social networking inventory as a whole” was proving problematic and that the “monetisation work we were doing there didn't pan out as well as we had hoped.” Google has a contractual agreement with News Corp to place advertisements on its network, MySpace, and also owns its own network, Orkut. Clearly, Google is not making money from either.

Facebook, now allied to Microsoft, has fared worse. Its grand attempt to redefine the advertising industry by pioneering a new approach to social marketing, called Beacon, failed completely. Facebook's idea was to inform a user's friends whenever he bought something at certain online retailers, by running a small announcement inside the friends' “news feeds”. In theory, this was to become a new recommendation economy, an algorithmic form of word of mouth. In practice, users rebelled and privacy watchdogs cried foul. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder, admitted in December that “we simply did a bad job with this release” and apologised.

So it is entirely conceivable that social networking, like web-mail, will never make oodles of money. That, however, in no way detracts from its enormous utility. Social networking has made explicit the connections between people, so that a thriving ecosystem of small programs can exploit this “social graph” to enable friends to interact via games, greetings, video clips and so on."

Read the whole article here ...

Josh Gordon

Why Hillary Clinton's 'Red Phone' Ad is Perfect for Magazine Ad Sales

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 03/25/2008-15:27 PM

Many credit Hillary Clinton's presidential primary wins in Ohio and Texas to her controversial "Red Phone" ad designed to raise doubts about Barack Obama's experience on national security.

Despicable sleaze? Clever politics? Love the ad or or hate it, what I saw was a common sales tactic that every media sales rep uses at some time in their career.

When you sell a product where the outcome cannot be predicted, like a presidential candidate or a media buy, raising doubts about your competition, a.k.a "playing the fear card," is an effective way to win business.

On your next sales call:

If you are in a competitive sell where you have the more established, better known, or widely accepted product you can ask "what if" questions to raise doubts about your competition in the mind of your media buyer. Clinton's ad raised asked "what if" an inexperienced president got a 3:00 AM Red Phone crisis dropped in his lap.

Media questions you can use to raise doubts about competition:

"What if your ad campaign fails because you did not cover a key demographic (that my media covers better)?"

"What if your ad campaign fails because you bought the cheaper media whose circulation is poor?"

"What if you ad campaign fails because you bought the cheaper media upstart instead of the media with the proven track recored?"

And if the media buy is very high profile:

"This is an important media buy. If it fails a lot of people could get hurt. Hey, remember the old saying from the 80's computer industry , "No one gets fired for buying IBM."

Don't push too hard. If your "sales technique" shows you will be branded as a manipulative huckster. To play the fear card you stoke the latent anxieties of your buyer but never overtly say the anxiety is totally justified. After you leave their office you just want them to worry about their media buy if it isn't with you.

Click here to read Larry David's take on the red phone.