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Josh Gordon

Who Says Magazines Are Not Interactive?

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 03/18/2008-11:56 AM

Not my 14-year-old, Jenni, who (with profound apologies to GL magazine) found a way to interact with that publication in a way that is ... well, meaningful for a 14-year-old.

Magazines, and most print media, are more personal because you can hold them in your hands. From here interactivity can take on many forms: physical coupons, tear outs, inserts, pop ups, contest entry forms, and blow ins. There is a physical interactivity that comes from the act flipping pages. There is a lot of interactivity that comes from the more personal physical connection that only print can make ... even for a 14-year-old!

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Josh Gordon

McDonald's Reaffirms My Faith in Print Advertising

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 03/10/2008-18:55 PM

You gotta love it! Here is a print ad for McDonald's Big 'n' Juicy Burger that uses almost no ad copy and a lot of paper to communicate how their bigger hamburgers need bigger napkins to handle them. The double-page spread was printed on napkin paper and ran in Sweden's Metro newspaper to promote the idea.

Is paper-based ad messaging dead? I don't think so!

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Josh Gordon

Why Does Your Site Exist?

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 03/10/2008-12:38 PM

Why does your site exist?

On a sales call, how do you answer this question? Many media reps jump into a canned pitch about the power of their print-originated brand franchise and how their Web site extends the franchise online.

Baloney.

Media buyers, are driven by "What's in it for me?" and the best print brand does not guarantee online results.

The online world is results and measurement driven. You have to explain the functional benefit behind your online media first. Then go on to explain how this function can generate measurable results. Start with an explanation of what your Web site or online media DOES for it's visitors.

A great post on "Online Metrics Insider" lays out a guide for categorizing the functional benefit of a Web site for people who measure Web performance. They need this as much as well do. If you can't functionally define a Web visitor benefit you cannot evaluate a Web site's result, nor can you explain the advertising benefit of that site to a media buyer.

From the post:

Your Web site exists for a purpose, perhaps multiple purposes, such as:

  • Providing information or data. Many sites entice people to visit for access to valuable, differentiated information or data. Traffic is then monetized primarily through site advertising. Many internal and external analytics packages will tell you where visitors come from and what they do onsite, which, when combined with demographic information, can be used to qualify a specific audience to an advertiser.
  • Generating leads. A content asset is placed on a site and gated using a form. People fill out the form and download the asset. The information captured in the form is stored and used by the company that generated the leads or profitably sold to another company.
  • Selling products. The typical ecommerce model involves acquiring customers via some method or offer, providing a product catalog or landing page, and creating a strong call to action and funnel that persuades people to purchase a product.
  • Connecting people. The explosion of social networking sites where people connect to other people, interact with each other, and use widgets, apps, and data services, is a modern phenomenon in which many of us participate.

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Josh Gordon

Beyond the New Media Buzz Words

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 03/05/2008-13:54 PM

I lost a sales media training program last week. The publisher hiring the sales trainer insisted his print centric staff was failing at online sales because they did not know the new media semantics. He told me, "They know the brand and how to sell, they just need to know the new buzz words."

I didn't agree. Assuming his sales staff had graduated high school, learning a few new word defintions should not hold anyone back.

When moving from selling print to integrated or interactive selling, the deeper issue is understanding the shift going on in marketing itself and how it impacts your advertisers. After you understand this shift the "buzz words" take care of themselves.

Media sellers are not the only ones discussing this shift. Yesterday, Kevin Downey, a writer at Media Life articulated it for media buyers in way that sellers should hear as well:

"How people use media is changing dramatically, and the era of force-fed commercials is nearing an end.

What's taking its place--and has been for several years at least--is a dialog between advertiser and consumer, and more and more the consumer is in charge.

Media buying agencies need to become part of that dialog. They need to learn how to spark that exchange. Those that fail to do so will face extinction. Or that's the clear warning in a new study from Forrester."

Kim then shares from the Forrester study he based much of his column on:

“Today’s agencies fail to help marketers engage with consumers, who, as a result, are becoming less brand loyal,” writes Peter Kim, a senior analyst at Forrester and author of the report.

“To turn the tide, marketers will move to the connected agency, one that shifts from making messages to nurturing consumer connections.”

The forces killing off the old system are twofold, and one is the explosion of media options that make no one medium a must-have experience. It's the end of mass media in which advertisers could push out their message and consumers were forced to accept that message as the price of admission.

Nobody’s a captive audience anymore, argues Kim. Expensive ad campaigns across mass media no longer work in this new media landscape."

On your next call: You need to stop thinking about how the media you are selling will "expose a message to a target audience" and start thinking about how the media you are selling will elicit a reaction, interaction, or ongoing relationship with a group of individuals. Stop thinking exposure and start thinking interaction. Now remind the members of your staff who can't sell the online piece that with it there is no feedback loop or interaction. Oops.

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Josh Gordon

What the Presidential Campaign Can Teach Us About Magazine Ad Sales

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 03/03/2008-16:53 PM

Hillary Clinton, behind in delegates and the polls for the Democratic Presidential nomination, is taking the offensive. Shown here taking to task a Barack Obama campaign brochure she claims spreads misinformation about her health care program. How will voters react?

Voters will react as they always do; ignoring criticism about people they like and embracing it against people they don't.

It is easy to forget that few American Presidents were more widely criticized than Ronald Reagan, but it all just slid off the likable "Teflon President" without a scratch. The minimally-funded Swift Boat attacks of the 2004 Presidential election stuck to John Kerry like glue who many demonized having criticized American Vietnam policy, and seemingly to many, the troops as well.

Hilary's case will stick not on merit, but on how likable voters perceive her Vs. Obama to be. Judging by how well her campaign's "plagiarism" criticism stuck last week I would guess not well.

On your next sales call, you may think that being likable is not so important. After all, we now sell in the measurable world of digital media. Aren't results more important than everything?

Think again. On the surface your clients are rational business people, but when criticism flys people are more likely to evaluate on the emotional side. They will ask, "Do I like them? Do I trust them?" The next time something goes wrong (and something always does), how much sticks to you will depend on how well-liked you and your organization are.

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Josh Gordon

Can You Sell in a Recession?

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 02/19/2008-12:04 PM

Selling in a recession takes a different attitude. I always like to share this test with salespeople to see if they are up for the challenge. The trick is that this test actually comes from the December 1932 issue of Opportunity Magazine, written for salespeople during the Great Depression. If you can pass a sales test written during The Depression, I figure, you are up to sell in a mere recession anytime!

Answer Yes or No to the following:

1. Am I sociable?
2. Do I think in terms of success?
3. Do I really like selling?
4. Do I think of my customers interests?
5. Do I read sales literature?
6. Do I study my prospects?
7. Is my personal appearance a credit to myself and the company I represent?
8. Do I realize that success in selling is a matter of study and perseverance and that the element
of luck is small?
9. Am I cheerful in the face of interruptions?
10. Am I always courteous even with unreasonable prospects?
11. Am I always scrupulously honest in my representations?
12. Do I think of selling as a dignified calling worthy of my best efforts?
13. When faced with competition, am I inspired to excel?
14. Do I know that my line of goods is the best on the market?
15. Do I try to make repeat sales?
16. Do I talk quality first and price later?
17. Do I stay with a line of goods long enough to give the line a fair trial?
18. Do I spend sufficient time perfecting my demonstration to make it convincing?
19. Do I take advantage of every modern convenience in selling, such as the telephone,
telegraph and letter service?
20. Do I canvas systematically and never skip places because they look uninviting?
21. Do I work regular hours even when the weather is unpleasant?
22. Do I put in the extra time to close a deal when necessary?
23. Do I put extra effort into selling after a poor day?
24. Do I put extra effort into selling after an unusually good day?
25. Am I determined to stick with selling despite the lure of a blind alley, time clock, type of job?

Score Table
No. of Questions Answered Favorably Rating:

25: Star Salesman
20: A Success
15: On The Way
Below 15: Need Overhauling

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Josh Gordon

Online Media Buyers are Different

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 02/11/2008-13:31 PM

As we struggle to understand the differences between selling online and print media it is important to know that ad agencies are struggling to understand the differences between buying online and print.

The career advice column from Media Life, "Ask Rachel," recently laid out the differences while offering advice to a media buyer considering a move from buying traditional media to online media:

Given that digital planners generally earn more at the same title and experience levels that their general market counterparts, there is room to give a traditional person a raise but still bring them in and save money.

Online is very demanding, for one. You'd likely be working with multiple clients, many of them with misconceptions about the medium. So you would be teaching them as you learned, always a challenging endeavor.

Also, online undergoes constant change, day by day. You'd spend huge amounts of time simply staying up with the changes and weeding through the endless hype that comes with them.

You'd likely be doing it all, too. It's the nature of online that job functions tend to blur. You'd be strategist, planner, buyer, manager, and analyst of how the campaign served or did not serve the client's objectives.

You'd have to excel when it comes to attention to details. You’d have to have an open mind that's not afraid to undertake digesting a lot of new information very quickly. You'd have to be real good at numbers. And you'd have to be a solid communicator, explaining it all to clients and your supervisors—without a lot of wasted verbiage. You'd have to be a great negotiator.

The next time you call on an online media buyer, consider the different pressures he or she is under compared with the print people you call on right down the hall.

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Josh Gordon

Using Post-Super Bowl Chatter to Sell Ad Space

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 02/05/2008-14:19 PM

The New York Giants won the Super Bowl, but who won the ad game? After the show there will be many reviews of the ads and which ones got the viewers attention. It turns out there is a big dividend paid to those Super Bowl ads that score high, literally. University of Buffalo doctoral student Jing Jiang and Cornell professor Charles Chang studied the relationship between company stock price and Super Bowl advertising for the last 17 Super Bowls and discovered that the top 10 Super Bowl ads significantly moved the stock price right after the game for advertisers.

According to the study, "The stocks of companies running ads that ranked in the top 10 outperformed the Standard & Poor’s 500 index by 26 basis points the day after the game and by 1.6 percentage points over the following week.

After four weeks, the shares did almost 3 percentage points better than the S&P 500, although Kim says the link between the Super Bowl ads and the performance of the stock weakens over time because other news and events could influence the price of the shares."

Curiously, there was also consistent minor positive movement on stock price of companies whose ads scored lowest. It seems the most dangerous place to be as far as stock price goes is in the middle.

As you chat with advertisers today, the day after Super Bowl Sunday, mentioning this curious study is a great way to reinforce the effectiveness of advertising and of the importance of having great creative that connects with an audience.

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Josh Gordon

Targeting the Crotch, Not Blogs!

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 01/30/2008-14:55 PM

In early January, shapingyouth.org, a blog on marketing to children, complained to mass retailer Target about a new ad campaign that depicted a woman positioned on a target pattern with the bull’s-eye seemingly targeting her crotch.

What gives, Target? A subliminal sexual message? A lapse into bad taste? Publicity through controversy? Or, did their art director, so wrapped up in the "snow angel" theme, miss the obvious innuendo?

Mistakes happen, but Target's response to the criticism was a showstopper that enraged the blogosphere.

In an e-mail response published in the News York Times, Target replied, “Unfortunately we are unable to respond to your inquiry because Target does not participate with nontraditional media outlets.”

“This practice,” the public relations person added, “is in place to allow us to focus on publications that reach our core guest,” as Target refers to its shoppers.

The Times covered the response: “Word of the exchange quickly spread and the blogosphere did not appreciate the slight. ‘Target doesn’t participate in new media channels?’ asked the Web site for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. Target ‘dismisses bloggers’ commented the blog for Parents for Ethical Marketing. ‘Ahem! So bloggers don’t count!’ Ms. Jussel chimed in on ShapingYouth."

How long the issue will rage in the blogosphere is hard to say. But a lot of people who held a fine opinion of Target think less so because Target did not offer a simple response to a blogger.

On your next call, if you have a blog product to sell: remind your client that while blogs often deliver small numbers, the readers can be extremely influential and able to quickly muster armies of like minded individuals that can do great harm. As Target may now be learning, ignore blogs at your peril.

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Josh Gordon

The Magazine Engagement Story

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 01/30/2008-13:52 PM

The MPA has a terrific booklet that compares the "engagement" qualities of magazines against other media. In a variety of comparisons magazines do extremely well. For me the most sales call friendly parts came on page 14 in the section entitled, "Qualitative dimensions of engagement". Research shows the ads that run in magazines are seen by readers as offering value, not an intrusion.

Use it on a sales call: First off, download the 35 page PDF at the link below. On the call, the trick is to shift the conversation. When many advertisers/marketers talk about engagement they are referring to measurable engagements such reader click throughs, contest entries, getting readers to contribute content or become involved in some way. This great resource from the MPA helps you shift the dialog from this "mechanical" view of engagement into a psychological one where the relationship between magazine and reader take center stage.

You don't have to explain all this on a call. Just explain the magazine engagement story. The story that says, unlike many other media that provide more functionality along along with a lot of distractions (third chart posted below), magazines engage your customers minds and bring the ad message along in a positive way. Very powerful stuff!

Download the entire survey here.

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Josh Gordon

What Will a Recession Mean for Ad Sales?

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 01/24/2008-15:01 PM

In the a last few weeks I have heard of several ad programs being cut back or put on hold because of concerns that a recession is coming. During the 2002 ad recession, I wrote and distributed this letter with great effect. It shows how advertisers who maintain exposure during the slow times move ahead of competitors who don't and gives a great example of a product that benefited from this exposure, Kellogg's Corn flakes. Here is the introductory copy:

Should You Advertise During a Recession?

Consider this ad from 1935 and how it affects buying today. Advertising dollars spent during slow times are the best investment a company can make. In 1929, rival cereal makers Kellogg’s and Post were in a close race to win the breakfast cereal market. When the Great Depression started, Kellogg’s maintained their advertising spending while rival Post cut back.

At the end of the Depression, Kellogg’s had achieved a category dominance that they maintain to this day.

On your next call, Download and print out the memo. Show them the old Kellogg's ad that ran at the height of the American Depression and remind them that it was during The Depression, when Post cereals cut their ad budget and Kellogg's did not, that Kellogg's became the category leader.

Now ask, "How many more boxes of Kellogg's product have been sold long after The Depression ended because someone had the vision to see a time of economic slowdown as the time to pull ahead of competition?"

DOWNLOAD: Cornflakes Promo Letter

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Josh Gordon

Don't Think About Using This Study on Your Next Call

Josh Gordon Sales and Marketing - 01/15/2008-16:18 PM

The buzz in marketing circles is about "customer engagement," ways of interacting with customers to advance marketing goals. cScape, a London based digital agency, has released a survey of 1000 "Customer experience professionals, showing the level of interest in programs that move customer engagement along. There is lots of it.

Here's the catch: the creators of the study are not big on "traditional advertising" and have not included even interactive advertising as part of the the study.

This is instructive for media sales people to see just how far this "engagement" concept can go without ever mentioning advertising.

From the study:

"Traditional marketing communications is almost an 'us and them' situation. The logic is that if we say it loud and often enough, some of our message will stick! Modern web-based businesses need to deploy a much more subtle of our message will stick! Modern web-based businesses need to deploy a much more subtle line of interactive communications. One that’s all about mutual interests. People coming to a site want it to work and to work well. A site that achieves this is one that gets the business and generates the kind of 'feel-good' factor that brand marketers strive for."

On your next call:

Don't bring this study. But do think about the part of the "non advertising" dialog our advertisers are having about engegement that this study represents, and think about the marketing dollars that will drain away if you cannot make the point stick that interactive and magazine advertising can be extremely engaging. We sell many media that engage customers in many ways. On your next call think about how you can bring that point foreword.

Download the entire study here (registration required).

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