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Good Ad Prospecting in 2017?

Posted on Friday, December 30, 2016 at 11:26 PM

A survey of publishers and industry insiders reveals how best to identify and contact prospective advertisers.

By William Dunkerley

As we move into a new year, it's worth taking stock of where we are with a very essential job: prospecting for new advertisers.

The magazine ad business shares much of the same fluidity as the publishing field in general. Spawned by digital invention, emergent changes in consumer behavior have spurred continual reexamination by advertisers of whether, and where, they will spend their money.

Publications that have heavily relied upon a long-established cadre of advertisers may sooner or later find themselves behind the curve. Constant vigilance in looking for new prospects has never before been so important.

To take the pulse of publishers on this issue, we did an anecdotal survey of selected publishers and industry leaders. We asked, "What's the best way to identify prospective new advertisers, and what's the best way to make first contact?"

Here's the wisdom that our respondents shared:

Brad Glazer, publisher, Aftermarket International

"We've found the best way to prospect is as follows:

"(a) Look at competitive magazines. If they are advertising in them, then they believe in advertising so you are halfway home, so to speak. This applies to both print and digital.

"(b) Find and attend industry trade shows. I believe the best way to make first contact is to send a brief email, and use LinkedIn if you don't have their email addresses. Explain who you are and what you do and ask for a brief phone conversation or, if geographically feasible, ask for a 'fact-finding' meeting so you can learn more about each other. Once the fact finding process is complete you can move to a proposal stage."

Andy Thompson, publisher, Birdwatcher's Digest

"Probably the best way to prospect new leads is in competitor publications. A direct phone call to the individual or agency in charge is the best route in terms of effective contact."

Howard Rauch, president, Editorial Solutions, Inc.

"Trade shows are the best bet. For me, the face-to-face contact beats any other way of sizing up potential customers.

"We always tried to sponsor our own event beamed at exhibitors. A topic that usually drew a nice crowd was a review of opportunities for obtaining editorial coverage. The event usually was moderated by the publisher and editor-in-chief."

Stuart Miller, CEO, Federal Buyers Guide

"We find the best way of finding new potential advertisers is by looking for companies that are spending money in the market. Either print, Web, or trade show exhibits. This clearly indicates they will spend money to reach the audience.

"We like to make the first contacts through a series of personal emails. We usually send some attachments. Cold calling is just too difficult these days."

Anthony Bowe, digital content manager, The Shop

"Our magazine covers the automotive upgrade aftermarket with distribution going to 19,000 shop owners per month. Identifying advertisers is rather simple for our publication. Since we're in regular contact with readers, we are keen on the brands and companies that these shops do business with. Also, our relationships with the two-step distributor network keep us up to date on the product suppliers that are seeking advertising/marketing support."

Veronica Tovey, president and publisher, What's Up? Magazine

"First ask who is your prospect. We believe everyone is a prospective advertiser. Some are just easier targets. Some categories you have more experience with and can more assuredly claim success for getting results. Go after them first."

Kristian Nielsen, vice president, Submarine Telecoms Forum

"Our magazine services the very niche submarine fiber cable industry. New client acquisition has always been a challenge for us. We've found that going back to the basic tools of market research, targeted emailing and cold calls, has been the most effective means of expanding our advertiser base.

"Years ago, in an attempt to better quantify our market, we opened an analysis arm responsible for tracking businesses and the goings-on of our industry. By tracking long-term industry activity, we are now acutely aware of new businesses entering the market and, more importantly, when others are leaving it.

"Our best advice to fellow publishers, regardless of the industry, is to stay keenly aware of your surroundings, keep a close eye on emerging businesses, and always hear out the thought leaders of your industry."

And finally, to wrap up this topic, Veronica Tovey has left us with a famous quote that may come in handy with any prospect who is resistant to spending money on advertising:

"A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time." —Henry Ford

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

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