Direct advertising-sales efforts are the most important sales technique for the overwhelming majority of magazine publishers, and the cost of building and maintaining sales teams is a significant expense. And yet, according to a new study, more than two-thirds of publishers spend less than $50,000 annually in marketing support for their sales efforts.
“Even small teams represent a big investment—anywhere from half a million dollars to several million,” says Kantar Media’s Stephen Davis, President of SRDS services. “Is that investment delivering the results needed? Are they reaching media buyers?”
The study, conducted jointly by Folio: and Kantar Media, sought to more fully understand how publishers are thinking about the relationship between direct sales—and marketing in support of those sales. The findings represent a detailed empirical look at what publishers are doing in several critical sales and marketing areas: how they promote their brands to potential advertisers through ad agencies; the investments they make to support sales efforts; and the channels they use. There were 150 responses, primarily from corporate/senior management or sales and advertising professionals in the consumer and B2B media spaces.
The major concern was the fast-changing nature of the relationship between media companies and agencies. Fifty-six percent of respondents said that direct sales outreach by dedicated salespeople is the most common form of contact with agency buyers and planners (SEO, email marketing, and live events were other methods).
Alarmingly, though, respondents also reported that actual face time between their sales teams and media buyers is declining. A full third of (33 percent) said that face time went down in 2015. Another 38 reported that it stayed the same, while only 17 percent said face time with agency planners actually increased. Ten percent said face time with media buyers isn’t important anymore.
Meanwhile, the much-maligned RFP process only seems to be more broken, with agencies requiring faster turnaround times. Forty-one percent of respondents indicated that three-to-five workdays is the most typical turnaround. Another 37 percent said they get less than two days.
“If the turnaround time for RFPs is getting shorter and shorter, and salespeople can’t meet or even talk to buyers directly, there aren’t relationships,” Davis notes. “There’s not time to communicate the media brand’s integrated offering in person or within an RFP. And in addition, do salespeople have enough time for proactive outreach or are they answering RFPs most of the time?”
With all this as the backdrop, a key question in the survey focused on the role of promotion to agencies by media brands. Promotion in support of sales becomes even more critical in the current environment. In what seems like a major disconnect, 39 percent of respondents said the importance of promotion “varies depending on the circumstances,” and just 19 percent said promotion is “extremely important.” And some respondents (22 percent) acknowledge that it’s “relatively important but no longer a major focus.” The remaining 20 percent say it’s not important.
That same disconnect is represented in the spending media companies do on sales-support promotion. Sixty-seven percent of publishers are spending less than $50,000 annually on B2B marketing to agencies and advertisers. Another 18 percent spend between $50,000 and $99,000.
“In the struggle against declining or flat print performance, and in a time when publishers want to aggressively ramp up integrated sales, this highlights that disconnect,” says Davis. “Eighty percent of publishers report that promoting their brand to agencies/marketers has some level of importance to them. But 67 percent spend less than $50,000 annually. What can $50,000 a year buy?”
Interestingly, however, the publishers surveyed indicated that promotion through third-party services like SRDS is the most critical component in their strategy for getting in front of agencies and marketers, just edging out agency conferences and advertising in B2B media.
“Is this another disconnect?” asks Davis. “Promotion through third-party service is critical, and brand promotion is important, but those budget are so small. It’s as though the cobbler’s kids have no shoes.”
“We’re glad publishers know that agencies rely on SRDS,” Davis adds. “But we’re not sure publishers are using SRDS as effectively as they could be. Our new Profile Visibility Report lets each publisher see how visible their brand is against competition, and see which agencies are actively searching their market. Then publishers know
who they need to reach—and ads in SRDS will work 24/7, nationwide.”
For more information on the findings or a consultation with SRDS, email email@example.com or dial (630) 790-0797.