« October 2011 | Home | December 2011 »

Issue for November 2011

Selling Hard-to-Sell Advertisers

Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 9:31 AM

The upswing from the recession presents challenging problems in ad sales. Here's a surefire strategy for overcoming resistance.

By William Dunkerley

Although the ad market has been rebounding, some publishers are having trouble getting a share of the bounce-back. Many advertisers report that their budgets are still tight. Other advertisers are using part of their budgets to explore social media and other digital options. And at the same time, I hear from advertisers who say that their most productive advertising is still traditional display space.

I spoke with one experienced publisher who approached a company representative exhibiting at a trade show. The prospective advertiser was resistant to his overtures. She told him, "The market is tight. We know who our prospects are. They know us. Why should we put money into advertising?"

Let's analyze that resistance and explore some ways of dealing with it. The first thing that struck me was the irony of this company rep denigrating advertising when she herself was engaging in advertising at a trade show. Isn't that advertising, too?

Our first step in handling this resistance is to decide whether the objection the representative raised was something she really believed, or if it was just a polite brush-off. It's hard to tell from just that one snippet of conversation. But the fact that the rep is exhibiting tends to belie her claim that she sees no value in advertising.

Nonetheless, let's take her at her word for the sake of discussion. She is expressing two ideas that are likely fallacious. The first is that she knows who all the prospects are. The most obvious way to counter that claim is to say, "Well, do you know about…" and proceed to disclose a market development or new situation that this company rep may not be aware of. Short of concrete info, another approach would be to outline your publication's ongoing research into new market players and your efforts to make readers of them.

The second fallacy is the "they know us" quip. Knowledge of a company or a product, of course, does not mean that the prospect will become a buyer. An active element of persuasion or enticement is usually needed. That's where advertising can come in. Often, presenting some case examples can be a way to overcome the "they know us" objection. For instance: "Company A once believed that they were well known and didn't need to advertise. But then they tried advertising and saw their sales increase. You can benefit from advertising in the same way as Company A."

After using these resistance handlers, it would then be time to go for a close again.

However, that close may not get you far if the rep's remarks really were just a brush-off, or "false resistance." This means that the prospect doesn't really mean what he or she is saying, but simply wants to terminate your sales pitch in a graceful way. In that case, a completely different strategy would be necessary to handle her resistance.

So, how do you handle false resistance? First, know how not to handle it. Don't answer it directly. Typical expressions of false resistance include, "we have no money to advertise," or "we don't need to advertise." It would be pointless to dispute whether or not a prospect has the money. And while it might be possible to argue for the need to advertise, it would be futile to do that if you are dealing with false resistance. That's because the need isn't the real issue here.

What is the real issue? The prospect is not yet convinced that your magazine can be helpful, so re-probing becomes necessary. You met with false resistance because you hadn't shown the prospect how his or her company would benefit from advertising in your magazine. And before you can articulate those benefits, you must first know what that company's marketing needs are. You need to re-probe and figure out what the company wants to accomplish. Once you know that, you can explain to your prospect how his or her company can achieve those goals by advertising in your magazine.

If you can do that convincingly, you'll get your order.

William Dunkerley is principal of William Dunkerley Publishing Consultants, www.publishinghelp.com.

Add your comment.

Posted in (RSS)

Print and Digital Magazine Readership

Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 9:30 AM

In the news: Just how many magazine impressions are print and how many are digital?

In recent issues, we have covered digital magazine almost exclusively because there has been a dearth of noteworthy industry news regarding print. But last week, research group GfK MRI released the results of its magazine audience survey, and the results suggest that, at least for the time being, print is still the preferred medium.

According to GfK MRI's findings, digital-only readers account for just 11 percent of magazine readers. This means, obviously, that an overwhelming majority of magazine readers are still reading print. The total magazine audience is 1.578 billion, and the print-only audience accounts for 1.278 billion of those readers. Another 135 million consume both print and digital magazine content. The survey involved 26,000 U.S. participants. Read more about the findings here.

Also Notable

Does Free Content Pay Off?

Magazine publishers continue to offer up free online content in hopes of attracting more revenue. Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal opened up its paywalled content to readers for a day in hopes of attracting new online subscribers. Some believe that WSJ's real motive is to boost their November visitor numbers so that they can present them to advertisers later. Others wonder just how many new digital subscriptions this tactic will draw. Read more here.

More on Free Content

Some magazine industry executives are convinced that free content is not the way to go. According to John Loughlin, executive vice president and general manager of Hearst magazines, "We are at a critical juncture for magazine publishers to reassert value of content, and that value needs to be paid for." He questions the practice of offering free digital copies of magazines to print subscribers, as it devalues the very digital content most magazines are trying to monetize. Read more of Loughlin's comments here.

Staff Shakeups at Newsbeast

Last week saw major staff changes at Newsweek/The Daily Beast. Politico.com reports that "the publisher was let go and the managing editor and executive editor resigned." Newsweek and The Daily Beast joined forces just one year ago in a high-profile merger. Read more about the staff changes and what they may mean for Newsbeast here.

Add your comment.

Posted in (RSS)

« October 2011 | Top | December 2011 »