Tuesday, August 18, 2009
But, the question that those of us in the publishing business should ask is, why did this venerable print product lose so much of its customer base, both subscribers and advertisers? I am sure that there are many complex business factors that got them to where they find themselves today. However, one look at their website gives a clear indication of what might be wrong.
Simply put, a paying subscriber to their magazine no longer needs to buy the print product because there is valuable and interesting content available for free from the Digest’s own website (http://www.rd.com/). In fact, there appears to be more depth and breadth of content available on their website than is found in the typical print issue of their magazine.
Those of you who follow my blog know that I am a strong believer in print media and believe that a magazine can have a strong position in a publishing company’s lineup of products. But, the publisher must take a strategic approach to the relationship its flagship print product has with its electronic and face-to-face content deliverables. Reader’s Digest is failing, perhaps, because it does not have an effective strategy which merges the print product with its online content. Their website stands alone as a source of content and information and a visitor to the site has no reason to ever purchase a subscription to the magazine as long as the company continues to provide all of the information it does at no cost.
The lesson in this is that content delivery must be an integrated process in which the content of one product drives the audience to the content of the others. There are many fine examples of publishing organizations which are successfully doing this, most notably the Wall Street Journal. I am not suggesting that Reader’s Digest charge for content on its website. What I am suggesting is that they might consider reducing the amount of free content available on the website and make more of it available as part of a paid subscription to its print product. They have a multi-generational history of providing content that has broad appeal to a clearly defined segment of the population. They should do what they do best: use that content to build their core business but deliver the content in a multi-media strategy.
Comments or questions? Visit us at http://www.adsalesexperts.net/ or post your comment below.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
I was invited into a dimly lit conference room and offered a seat at the far end of the table. Positioned at the opposite end was an IBM-AT computer upon which sat what looked like a computer monitor sitting on its side so that the image would be presented in “portrait” rather than “landscape” configuration. Then, right before my eyes, the operator turned the computer on and I watched in amazement as I saw him create a magazine page onto which he placed three columns of perfectly justified type, several headlines, rules, and a window for the placement of a photo. This was all done in a matter of minutes without the need for the tools which I had come to rely upon to “paste up” a magazine page layout. When the demonstration was complete I was asked if I had any questions. I only had one, “how do you get the page out of there” was all I could think to ask. But, what I had just witnessed was my introduction to the digital prepress revolution that was rapidly taking place right before my eyes.
The year was 1987 and the software I had seen demonstrated was called “SuperPage.” After the vendor answered many additional questions (including how to get the pages “out of there”) I jumped head first into the deep end of the technology pool and purchased the software for an exorbitantly high price of $8,000. In addition, I had to purchase the specially configured monitor which was available only from a company located in Seattle, as well as an IBM-AT PC. But, I had a contract to produce a directory of several hundred pages, and the investment in the new technology was quickly recouped. Shortly afterwards, the vendor contacted me to inform me that there was an upgrade available for the software, but it would require the addition of a new device without which the program wouldn’t properly work. The device was called a “mouse” and it also required that I increase the memory in the computer to support it, so I purchased the mouse as well as added some additional memory to the computer to its maximum capacity of 640K of RAM. But, I also knew I would never again have a need for my faithful t-square, drawing board, adhesive waxer, and X-Acto knife. I had entered the world of digital publishing and there was no turning back.
Several companies introduced competitive products as the market for “desktop publishing” exploded. SuperPage was quickly replaced by such products as PageMaker, QuarkXpress, and InDesign and the various upgrades and new versions of each which seemed to be introduced almost daily. I continue to be amazed at the functions built into the current version of InDesign, functions that didn’t seem possible only a few years ago. The elements of good design, typography, and the use of color are just as important today as they have been for years. But, those of us in the publishing business have powerful tools literally available to us at our fingertips which make our jobs easier, faster, and which allow us to readily express our creativity. During my career in publishing I have been witness to a revolution in typesetting and layout, but also a revolution in new media which utilizes the tools we take for granted today. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Please share your comments with me here or visit us at www.AdSalesExperts.net where you can also subscribe to our free e-newsletter which offers information, tips, and suggestions about how to maximize advertising sales in print and electronic products.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Successful advertising sales, like sales of any product, is built on personal relationships between the seller and his or her customer. There is a great deal of information that can be shared when a sales person makes a personal call to the office of an advertiser. Following are some tips of how to make the most of the opportunity that can come from a face-to-face meeting:
Listen before you begin your pitch. I once took a junior sales person with me to visit the corporate office of one of his most important clients. We were granted a 30 minute meeting and my associate spent the first 20 minutes telling about all of the combinations of print and electronic media our company offered. It wasn’t until there was only ten minutes left that he asked the client what his goals for his advertising investments were. We barely had enough time to hear which segments of the market the client wanted to reach nor did we ever discuss his budget, schedule, or strategies and how we could develop a media plan that would meet all of his needs. The result was that we left there without a sale and it wasn’t until a year later that they bought an advertising package.
Do your homework BEFORE you walk into the meeting. It’s amazing how unprepared many sales people are when they have the opportunity to meet an advertising prospect in person. Prepare for the meeting by learning as much as you can about the client. What products or services do they offer? Who makes up their customer base? In which other media do they advertise? How frequently? Have they just won a major contract, acquired a company or introduced a new product? Know their advertising history with your products so you can speak effectively about their previous results and make suggestions how to improve upon them.
Follow up after the meeting. A quick thank you note (email is fine) to those in the meeting thanking them for their time and indicating when you plan to deliver any additional materials will cement the relationship that started at the meeting. Be sure to deliver all that you promised. If you were asked to put together a proposal or a suggested media plan within a week, do it and do it on time.
Keep in touch. Generally, advertising purchasers do not want to hear from you when you have nothing new to discuss with them. But, it’s always appropriate to give your most important clients important information that they otherwise might not receive. If your editor has announced a special feature story for an upcoming issue, or if your organization has just made a major announcement about an industry initiative, call your prospect and let him hear about it first from you. This contributes to the development of mutual trust while giving that client the sense that he is being given special treatment. Remember, it’s all about building and maintaining a positive working relationship.
Yes, travel is expensive and time consuming. A sales person on the road is lucky if he or she can see two or three ad prospects in a single day. I am not recommending you make this investment with every company on your prospect list. But, for your top key accounts, this should be an essential part of your organization’s ad sales strategy.
What has been your experience with face-to-face selling? Does your organization regularly do this and how effective has it been? Share your thoughts here or visit us at http://www.adsalesexperts.net/.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Rules and boxes were created using a variety of products including some called Formaline. Available in a wide variety of sizes and designs, think of it as the rules that are available in InDesign, but in the form of an adhesive tape on a roll. Each line was put into place on the layout and held in place by the adhesive material on the back of the product. Boxes were made by placing four lengths of the rule perpendicular to each other (forming the four sides) and then cutting a 45 degree angle at each of the corners where two pieces intersected. If done accurately, this created a perfect corner. Thin lines, one point or less, were hand drawn using special ruling pens, the best of which were manufactured by Koh-I-Nor. The very fine tip created thin solid black lines and it required some skill to create lines of consistent weight.
Photographs were reproduced as halftones utilizing a screen and special photographic film in the print shop’s darkroom. The positioning of each photo required a “window”, usually cut from Rubylith or a similar product called Zipatone, which was the size and shape of the printed photo. Photos had to be cropped and scaled in proportion to the size of the window and each photo had to have crop marks and percentage of reduction clearly marked on it. The Proportion Scale was the tool used to quickly make the necessary calculation. Shaped like a wheel and not much more than a basic slide rule with two scales, the artist aligned the original size of the photo with its reproduction size and the resulting percentage appeared in a cutout area of the scale. For instance, if the length of the original picture was 8” and it was going to be reproduced at 3”, the proportion scale would indicate that the picture was to be photographed at 37.5% of its original size. Crop marks were affixed to the border of the original indicating the area of the photo to be reproduced and while maintain the proportions of the window that was made for it. It was a tedious process, but there was no option for either the graphic artists or the printers.
It’s fun to look back at the way we created pages not too long ago and how easily each of these functions are now available at the click of a mouse in products like InDesign. Next week, I will describe the leap from manual pasteup to the use of page layout software. I hope you are enjoying this series of postings and I welcome your comments, questions, and feedback at http://www.adsalesexperts.net/.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Editorial Calendar—Working with your organization’s editor, begin planning what major topics will be covered as feature stories in 2010. You should also start to plan for special issues such as a buyer’s guide, annual report, or other special topic that will attract advertisers. The calendar should also include information about which issues will be distributed at your association’s meetings, conferences, and conventions as well as events produced by others. Your editorial calendar is one of the most important parts of your media kit and will be utilized by advertisers and their agencies as they make their media purchasing plans.
Advertising Rates—Will you be increasing your advertising rates for 2010? If so, by how much? Now is the perfect time to do the necessary research so that you can devise a rate structure for next year that will keep you competitive while assuring that your direct and indirect costs are covered. Talk to your printer to find out if they will be increasing their charges for their services or the paper they use to produce your magazine. Check to see if there will be any increases in postal rates for the class of postage you use.
2010 Media Kit—Over the next several months you should develop and produce your 2010 advertising media kit. This is the perfect time to assess your current kit’s content and determine what changes or additional information you want to add to it. It’s also time to start planning for the design and production of the kit and all of its contents, as well as the form your kit will take in its electronic version available on your organization’s website.
Strategic Planning—This is probably the most important task to begin now. What are the goals for your publication for the year ahead? The budget process will require that you set revenue goals, but there are others to be considered. Are there companies or entire categories of advertisers you want to see purchase space in your magazine or on your website? If so, how will you get that to happen? Is the sales structure that is currently in place as effective as it can be? Is your publication holding its market share? Are you regularly communicating with your customers and prospects and is this communication delivering the results you had expected? These are issues that should be assessed now so that improvements can be made as the fall selling season begins.
Cross-selling Opportunities—Now is also a great time to look at all of the products and services offered by your association to the supplier community and create programs and incentives that are designed to increase income while also enhancing the value your association’s clients receive through their relationships with you. In today’s market, advertisers spend their money with the media that delivers the most value and exposure. Through a program of cross-selling, your association can take advantage of its strengths by meeting and exceeding the expectations of your customers.
Enjoy the summer, but also plan ahead for the fall and all of next year. For more information visit our website at http://www.adsalesexperts.net/.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Phototypesetting is a projection system whereby the flash of a strobe light is aimed through a negative image of each character and projected through a lens onto photographic paper. The size of each character is determined by either the distance from the paper to the lens or by the characteristics of each lens used. Some systems employed only one or two lenses and the operator either manually adjusted the distances or, as in later models, the distances were controlled by internal stepping motors. Coding for all characters and commands were embedded onto some type of storage medium. The first systems utilized paper tape with combinations of holes punched into it to drive the selection of each letter. Specialized keyboard devices, such as the device manufactured by Friden Corp. shown above, were used to create the coded paper tape (right). This technology was cumbersome, not easily correctable, and was quickly replaced by the use of magnetic medium, primarily in the form of large floppy discs. As each line of type was set, the machine inserted the exposed photosensitive paper into a light-proof cassette which, in turn was removed from the machine and put onto a chemical developing machine which safely fed the paper through a series of photographic development chemicals. The damp paper was then allowed to dry before it was able to be used.
The quality of the type was excellent, but if exposed to light, had a relatively short useful life. The paper would readily yellow and the characters would quickly fade, and the developing chemicals left an acrid aroma in the room in which they were used. The next generation of photographic paper was introduced which eliminated most of these problems. Called RC (resin coated) paper, type set on it was very clear, the image didn’t fade, and the paper was a bright white rather than the off white to yellowish color of its predecessor.
Whether type was set using a ribbon on paper or a photographic process, the result was the production of long columns of type, called galleys. The final pages were then created by “pasting up” the publication. The galleys were cut into columns, an adhesive applied to the back and the type was positioned into columns, headlines, captions, and the other elements of the printed page. The work was done on a drawing board and a t-square and triangle were used to properly line up the type. In next week’s posting, I will describe some of the tools used to “paste up” finished pages. It still amazes me to remember the time spent in creating pages this way compared to how easily and quickly it is now done in InDesign.
Please share your memories, questions, or comments about typesetting and page layout at http://www.adsalesexperts.net/ or on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/adsalesexperts.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Think of your customers’ needs as being on a time continuum and you have products which are able to meet those specific time-driven goals. Let’s look at an example. A medium size association offers advertising on a number of its products as well as exhibit space at its face-to-face events. Its website is updated daily, it sends out an e-newsletter every Friday, publishes a monthly print magazine and holds an annual convention with exhibits. In reality, what this association has to offer is a variety of combinations of ways that an industry supplier can reach the market represented by the association or professional society.
Rather than selling individual products, your sales staff should be selling the full array of products as a single solution that spans the time continuum. The advertiser can reach the market daily or on a specific day with a web ad, weekly through the e-newsletter, monthly with a print ad, or annually as an exhibitor at the convention. Working with his salesperson, the client can develop a customized marketing strategy for how and when it delivers its message to your association’s membership.
There are many possible permutations of this approach. For instance, an advertiser is planning to announce the launch of a new product tomorrow. He wants to advertise it, but doesn’t want to wait a month until the next issue of your magazine is published, and he doesn’t want his competitors learning about the new product until after it is released. The solution: he should purchase an ad on your organization’s website today, so the market will hear about it tomorrow. As news of the product reaches the customers, he should schedule an ad in the next available issue of your e-newsletter that will not only describe the new product, but also drive traffic to the special area of the company’s website designed to promote it. Finally, once established, he should plan on demonstrating the product as an exhibitor at your next event. The result: this customer’s tactical marketing goals were met through the use of your association’s multiple offerings packaged and sold to him in a way that met his needs.
When you speak to your customers and perspective advertisers, listen to what they are saying. Ask them what the goals are for their advertising and marketing investments and develop a customized and unique plan that meets those goals and expectations. In the end, sales is about delivering value, and by understanding the time continuum of your organization’s offerings, you will be better able to deliver the maximum value being asked of you.
Want to learn more or discuss your advertising sales challenges? Visit us at http://www.adsalesexperts.net/.
Monday, June 8, 2009
IBM entered the typesetting market with the introduction of its Selectric Composer. Utilizing a modified version of the mechanism of its popular Selectric Typewriter, the Composer was able to set type with proportional spacing in justified columns. Like the Varityper before it, in order to justify a column each line of type had to be typed twice, once to determine the amount of additional space needed between each word and then a second time to add the required space to produce a justified line of type.
But, IBM took the technology one step further by connecting the Composer to a magnetic tape driven device which allowed the operator to enter text once on a standard Selectric typewriter, have those keystrokes captured and stored on a magnetic tape cartridge, and then played back as justified columns of type on the Composer, which was connected to the tape reading device. The system, called the MTSC, Magnetic Tape Selectric Composer, was a major advance in cold type technology. It offered a number of type styles and sizes, each molded onto IBM’s “golf ball” element. In order to go from Roman to Italic, for instance, the operator had to simply change the element and type the needed words in Italic, then change the element again to return to Roman. For automated playback, “stop” codes were embedded into the text and recorded on the tape which allowed the operator to change elements at the appropriate place as the document played out. Typos were corrected directly onto the magnetic tape before final playback, as well. This technology was the precursor to what we now call “word processing.”
In order to achieve the look of proportional spacing, each character was assigned a number of “units.” Wide characters, such as the letter “M”, were given more units, and narrow characters, such as the letter “I”, were given fewer. The width of each column was determined in picas and the system came with a chart that converted those picas into “units.” The number of units of each line of an article was entered onto the magnetic tape and the internal computer calculated the amount of additional units required between words in order to produce a justified column of type.
The system produced sharp, clean type, and was faster and more efficient than was the Varityper, but it was also limited to the size and typestyles available. Only a few typestyles were available on the “golf balls” and the type ranged in size between 8 and 12 point. It was because of these limitations that the MTSC system was displaced by the next generation of cold typesetting systems: phototypesetting. Companies including Addressograph-Multigraph (AM) and Compugraphic aggressively entered the market with faster, more flexible systems that offered a wider range of type styles and sizes than were ever offered by their predecessors. More on phototypesetting next week.
What are your earliest memories of typesetting systems? Join the conversation here or visit us at http://www.AdSalesExperts.net/.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
The obituaries for print magazines seem to be everywhere. Fueled by the shift to electronic media and the decline of advertising revenues, it seems that not a day goes by without hearing about the shuttering of a print media product. But, as the saying goes, don’t believe everything you read. Print is not dead and there are publishers who are going against the trends and increasing their investments in ink-on-paper products as a way of cementing their position in the markets they serve.
Hearst Magazines, a division of Hearst Corporation, the well-known publisher of a number of popular magazines including Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, and O, the Oprah magazine, has launched Food Network Magazine with much success. Originally planned to have a paid circulation of 300,000, the publisher has just reported circulation of over 900,000 and is on track to surpass the one-million mark before the end of this year. Published in collaboration with the cable TV channel, Food Network and its popular website foodnetwork.com, the print product offers unique content available on neither the television shows nor its website and is delivered in a format that can easily be used by its readers in their kitchens. A recent article in the New York Times quotes Samir Husni, chair of the journalism department at the University of Mississippi: “I give a lot of credit to Hearst for being willing to go in one direction when everyone else is going in the other direction. They’re doing well in a tough time, and Food Network is the big success story of 2009.”
But large publishers are not the only ones enjoying success with recent launches of print magazines. Numerous niche publishers, fueled by the success of their websites, have launched print products. Heather Vreeland, publisher of newly launched Atlanta Occasions Magazine, saw the print product as a more direct way of reaching her customer base than she was able to achieve with her company’s website. Focusing on the bridal industry in the greater Atlanta area, she was having difficulty selling advertising space on the website because of low traffic and strong competition from the national websites serving the bridal market. So, rather than wait for customers to find her, she determined that with a print product she could go to the places her customers visit by distributing the magazine at wedding gown stores, bridal shows, and other locales where the customers of her advertisers were congregating. The result: the print magazine is generating significantly more revenue than her website and has served to increase her company’s visibility within the market it serves, something that would not have happened if she continued to rely on just her company’s website.
These cases are not unique. Although costly to produce, print products continue to deliver value to readers and advertisers when they are positioned to complement the content offered by a publisher’s electronic media. Unlike websites, which require a computer to view, magazines are portable, can be more readable, and can deliver a verifiable readership of purchasers than can most websites. Print is alive and well and will continue to be so as long as publishers view them as an integral part of a multi-media mix of content delivery products.
For more, contact Robert Silverstein, principal, Advertising Sales Experts, Inc. (http://www.adsalesexperts.net/)
I have heard from many association publishers that it is very difficult for them to create a calendar. “I can’t plan more than a few months in advance” and “I want to have the flexibility to put in timely articles” are just two of the excuses I have encountered. But, advertisers don’t want to hear those excuses. What they most need to know is which issues will deliver the most value for their advertising investment in them, and the editorial calendar is their best tool to do this.
The annual editorial does not have to be detailed. No one is expecting you to know what the exact wording of the headline of each feature story will be a year before it is published. But what the advertising community does need to know is the subject areas to be covered in each issue. For instance, if you are selling advertising to software manufacturers, they will look at the editorial calendar to see in which issues there will be a stories about technology. The same is true for all of the major categories of industry suppliers serving your industry.
Another important piece of information that should be included in your calendar is any tie-ins or bonus distribution of issues at industry events, conferences, and conventions. Exhibitors look for bonus distribution opportunities offered around events at which they will be exhibiting and are more likely to advertise in the issues distributed at those events.
As you develop your annual calendar, keep in mind the buying cycle of when specific product categories are purchased by your readers and plan the feature stories within those timeframes. One example comes from publishers of trade magazines serving the retail industry. The busiest time of year for most retailers is around the holiday months of November and December. But the products that are sold in the retail stores in those months were actually chosen and purchased as much as ten months earlier. If you are planning to write an article on the popular new items to be purchased as holiday gifts, planning that article in the November issue of your magazine will not be attractive to advertisers. However, planning that same article in the February issue will be much more meaningful to the market and will attract the advertising of those vendors selling merchandise to retailers because their ads will be seen at the time those retailers are making their purchasing decisions.
Your editorial calendar does not have to include every article or editorial department you have planned for each issue, but should include at least one topic per issue that, over the course of a year, will be of interest to every major category of your industry’s suppliers. Also, if you are planning a special issue, such as a buyers guide or “year in review” article, be sure to include those in the calendar as well. Remember, the editorial calendar is looked at by advertisers to help them determine if your magazine covers the most relevant issues of your industry and which issues will contain content that covers the segment of the market they each serve. Without a calendar, advertisers may simply pass you by as an advertising medium.
Agree or disagree? Join the discussion or visit us at http://www.adsalesexperts.net/.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Although I have spent most of my career in advertising sales, I actually started my career on the production side of the business. I recently installed the latest version of Adobe InDesign, and as I look at the amazing functions available to me with just a few clicks of a mouse, I think back to the way I first learned how to do typesetting and layout years before the invention of the personal computer.
Not that many years ago, typesetting technology was broken into two categories: hot type and cold type. Hot type referred, primarily, to the Linotype machine, a device that used molten lead poured into molds that formed the individual letters. Much of the terminology used in modern typesetting—leading, for instance, the insertion of a blank piece of lead to add space between lines of type—came from that technology. But, Linotype machines required skilled operators to run them, were expensive, and because of their size and the amount of heat generated from them (in order to keep the lead molten), they were found only in commercial facilities. Cold type came about as the photo offset printing process developed. It created a market for companies to enter the typesetting business by creating relatively low cost devices that would set type which could then be photographed and converted to offset printing plates. One of the earliest entrants of this technology was the Addressograph-Multigraph Corporation, and their machine, the Varityper, was the first typesetting machine I learned to use.
Using the Varityper was slow and tedious work. First, the pica width of the column was set with margin guides. A sheet of paper was inserted into the machine and each line of a story was typed twice, once to allow the machine to determine how much extra space needed to be added between each word, and then after setting a dial that added that additional space, a second time to produce a justified line of type. Line after line was done this way until you created a fully justified column of type. This was then “pasted-up” on a layout sheet to create a single copy of each page of a document which was then photographed and the negative used to create a printing plate.
With all of this typing and retyping, one was sure to have some typos in the text, which occurred often. When a mistyped word was spotted, the corrected word was typed on the border of the paper. The finished paper was then taken to a light table and the corrected word was positioned on top of the incorrect word and an X-Acto knife was used to cut through both layers at the same time. The old word was discarded, and the new one, which fit perfectly in the cutout space, was held in place by a piece of clear tape applied to the back side of the paper. This tedious process certainly taught those of us who used the machine and then had to correct our own errors how to type as accurately as possible.
Each typestyle or font came as a family, so it was easy to have a word set in bold or italic. It was just a matter of changing the font, which was a half-moon shaped metal form containing all of the characters. Picture it as the predecessor to IBM’s “golf ball” font utilized on the Selectric typewriter. But, the Varityper created very sharp type that photographed clearly and printed well on a machine that required little more than basic typing skills in order to operate. Although I didn’t know it at the time, this was the predecessor to desktop publishing as we came to know it when the IBM PC was introduced years later.
So, I am going back to a document I am creating in InDesign. I don’t have to type each line of type two times, I have hundreds of typestyles available to me in sizes ranging from 6 point to 72 points, if I should find a typo, I will edit it directly on the screen, and there is not a drawing board, X-Acto knife, t-square, or paste anywhere near where I am sitting. But, I do look back fondly at my time in front of a Varityper as it taught me the basic skills of typography that I can still apply today.
Next week, I will talk about the next device I learned to use, the IBM MTSC composing system.
Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome, or visit us at http://www.AdSalesExperts.net/.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
I was recently speaking with an association publisher who told me that she was considering replacing the advertising representative firm she had been using with another. As we got into more detail, she revealed that the firm had been successful in building and maintaining her organization’s print advertising business, but had not been successful in building her online advertising and that she felt that a company with more experience in selling electronic advertising might better assure that her total revenue goals were achieved. Then we discussed her goals and the structure of her relationship with her current sales organization.
Like most advertising representative relationships, this association was paying the firm 20% of net revenues. I asked what her average page rate was and she revealed that it was $8000. When asked what the rate was for an online ad, she indicated that it was $2000. Then I asked her to do the math: 20% of $8000 = $1600; 20% of $2000 = $400. Where did she think her commissioned sales team was focusing its efforts? On the sale that would generate for them the highest commission. I then suggested that she do something radical: Continue to pay the current firm a commission of 20% on print products, but increase the commission on electronic products to 50% (yes, 50%). Look what happens when you recalculate the math: The firm still earns $1600 on the sale of a print ad, but now earns $1000 on the sale of a web ad. Suddenly, the sales staff sees there is a larger incentive to now sell web advertising. The problem was never with the quality of the firm’s work, only with the structure of their compensation program. And isn’t that association better off keeping 50% of $2000 rather than 80% of $0?
The truth is that the traditional 20% commission is figured as part of the overall cost of producing a print product. Those costs include printing, postage, paper, etc. and the profit margin on an ad is relatively small (depending on where the ad is placed and the imposition planning). However, the profit margin on a web ad is much different. There are little if any direct production costs, so even paying a commission of 50% on an electronic ad should still generate a profit from the sale of that ad.
A sales compensation program should be a tactical management tool that drives the sales staff to deliver the results you want. Want new advertisers? Pay a higher commission on new business than you do on the renewal of existing business. Want to attract a new category of advertisers? Pay a higher commission on ads sold to companies from that group. Want to cross-sell multiple products such as print, web, and face-to-face? Pay a bonus commission when a multi-media package is sold. Do you have per-issue revenue goals? Pay a bonus when those goals are exceeded, or pay a smaller commission until those goals are achieved. Use the structure of your compensation program to incentify your sales staff to deliver the results you want. Commission plans are owned by the publisher and should be used to reward the sales staff for meeting your goals and objectives. Like it or not, sales people are motivated by money and they go where the money is. Put that motivating force to work for you rather than against you. Your revenues will increase and your goals will more easily be achieved.
Want to learn more: contact us at www.AdSalesExperts.net.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Advertising representatives are independent contractors. As such, they are not subject to day-to-day management as they would be if they were direct employees. Most good reps will have more than one client, so their time is shared between your publication and their work for their other clients. Independent reps work for a straight commission. There is usually no up-front money or other fees associated with utilizing the services of such an individual or firm. Simply put, you pay for the results which are produced, not for the process to gain those results. The standard commission rate is usually around 20% of the net revenue produced, although I have seen deals as high as 50% and as low as 15%. In addition, some rep contracts require the publisher to pay for some travel expenses as well as promotional expenses. These are items best negotiated with each firm being considered.
Direct staff is sales people who are employees of your organization. As such, you pay them a salary, benefits, vacation and sick leave, and usually a commission or incentive plan when their sales meet or exceed a specific level. The advantage of this structure is that the publisher retains complete control over the sales process and the sales staff is fully dedicated to selling only the publisher’s products. Also, for a very successful program, this may be a less costly method of selling advertising. In this structure, you are paying for the process as well as the results. The sales person you hire is earning his or her salary from the first day they come to work before they ever produce a dollar of revenue.
Utilizing an independent sales representative can be very costly if sales levels are high. Do the math. 20% of a large number is still a large number. When that number is compared to what it would cost you to “bring it in house”, you may find that hiring a dedicated staff is less costly overall. But, if you are looking for someone to build your advertising business and is willing to share in the cost risks to do that, a rep may be good choice.
The answer to the question comes down to a few simple things: how much are you willing to invest in generating advertising revenue? How much direct control do you want or need over the process? Do you want more staff because that staff can do multiple tasks? Do you want the revenue but not the direct staff it will take to generate it? These are simple questions with complex answers, but a thorough assessment of your goals, the market in which you operate, and your ability to invest in the process will help guide you to the sales structure that is best for your organization and its publication.
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009
“It would be great to book some new advertising sales in May. Some solid support from [our industry’s] billionaires that hang with [our] community would do wonders for us and [our] industry in general - old and new. The press releases while often solid editorial - don't actually pay the bills - food for thought for those in the marketing and PR department. However, we will happily take money off just about anyone and if you are feeling generous you are most welcome to send a paypal/credit card contribution to….”
This appeal for advertising dollars is both desperate and pathetic. Advertising is purchased for one reason: a company sees value in reaching the audience of the publication or website because they believe it will translate into sales of their products or services to that readership group. Stating that they “will happily take money off just about anyone” is not a viable strategy to build credibility and develop long-term relationships with advertisers. Selling advertising during the current economic conditions is difficult enough but one should never have to publicly beg for money and expect that approach to actually generate the needed funds.
This email may be an extreme example of the desperation being felt by some publishers and advertising sales directors, but it also probably reflects the frustrations and concerns of many throughout our industry. The cyclical nature of economic downturns is, to some degree, predictable in that those of us who have witnessed them before know they will end and market conditions will improve. But, we must appear to remain strong in the eyes of our advertisers and our readers so that when the money returns, it will come to us.
Admitting to fear and failure, as the sender of this email clearly is doing, will become a self fulfilling prophecy. Advertisers will rightly question the financial strength of the publisher and his ability to survive and make the necessary investments in content and technology that will be needed to survive. Advertisers don’t want to put their hard-earned good money after bad and those same advertisers don’t ever want to be viewed as the deep pockets that a cash-starved publisher can go to in order to survive. In good times or bad, the strongest publishers are those that will continue to deliver value to their markets and never have to send out such a blatant plea for a bailout. After all, we are, thankfully, not in the automobile manufacturing business.
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Thursday, April 23, 2009
If your organization does not currently do this, there are some measures you can apply to determine if you should. First, how many ad pages are you not selling (and to whom) because you don’t have an audited circulation? Most major advertising agencies are more comfortable recommending audited publications to their clients and if your publication isn’t audited, it might not make the list of recommended magazines. Next, look at the magazines against which you directly and indirectly compete. Are they audited? If most are, then it probably means that the “culture” of your market expects the audit report. If some are and others aren’t, then you may not need this tool. Finally, do you have a way of documenting your circulation breakdown without the need for an audit report? Many non-audited publications create a Publisher’s Report which is a breakdown of the circulation by the readers’ job title, and other demographic information similar to what is reported on an audit statement. If there is not overwhelming demand for a true audit statement, this may be no more than you need.
Associations are in a unique position because the circulation of their magazines is comprised of members. Those members choose to join the association and receive the publication because they are in the industry or profession and have a direct need for the information made available to them through the pages of the organization’s magazine. In other words, association members are self-qualified by the mere fact that they have joined the organization that represents their professional interests.
An audit is a long-term and costly commitment, not only for the direct costs of the service, but also for the costs associated with creating, maintaining, and managing the circulation database and source documents required by the audit process. But, if the advertising revenue potential is greater than the costs, and your market is expecting/demanding this tool, then you should place serious consideration into having an audit of circulation. If, on the other hand, you are maintaining your revenue and market share without an audit, then you may not need to make that investment. If you are considering the pros and cons of an audit, a thorough evaluation of all the factors should be made before signing on for or cancelling the service.
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
The answer is that they are not. Content should be viewed across the spectrum of its time value. A printed monthly magazine, for instance, should contain content that is timely and relevant during and possibly beyond its cover date. But print media is not the place for late-breaking news or information or for rapid updates to previously published material. The costs and time to update printed material are both high. But, the web is the ideal medium in which to post rapidly changing content. It is flexible, inexpensive to update, and is not limited by space, time, or cost restraints. So therefore, one must question what is truly being gained by publishing an online duplicate of a printed publication.
The issue, therefore, is not about content or technology, it is about branding. Content should be branded under one name. In most cases, think of your magazine’s title as the brand and increase that brand’s value by utilizing all of the forms of media available to you to deliver content in the most time-valuable way. An online version of your magazine should contain information and material that is not available in the print version because of the time value of that material. Utilize your print product to provide more in-depth and analytical content, the time value of which extends further into the future. Think of content as being on a time-line and publish time sensitive material on the web and content with a longer shelf life in print. A true online version of your magazine will enhance the magazine’s brand while delivering different content to a broader audience than is receiving the printed and mailed version. That is when you will be able to see the fullest benefits of producing an online version of your magazine.
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Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Businesses are no different. When an economic downturn reduces a company’s sales, most companies react in nearly the same way as if they, too, were “laid off.” They do everything they can to conserve cash so the company can survive until sales improve. They look for the most cash intensive expenses which can be reduced. In many cases, this translates into staff layoffs because that has the effect of nearly immediate major reductions in cash expenditures. They next look at other areas which can be reduced to conserve cash and one of the most obvious is to reduce or cancel advertising and marketing purchases. These companies will say that the reduction in their sales puts them in the position to have to reduce advertising expenses because they don’t have the money to pay for them. In the short term, this is true.
In the last downturn, I remember speaking to a major supplier of a product utilized throughout the industry. He cancelled his advertising and told me that he had a warehouse full of products that were not selling and until he could convert those goods to cash, he had no way to pay for any advertising. I, of course, told him that the best way to empty his warehouse was to advertise the products, but his response was that no amount of advertising was going to increase demand for a product that was not being utilized because of the financial health of the industry he served. But, what was he doing to assure that once the economy improved, his product would be the first ones purchased?
The answer to this question is the role that advertising plays today. For those selling advertising space, the pitch is no longer about utilizing advertising to sell products or services. It is about companies advertising to maintain brand awareness, increasing their visibility, and helping them retain market share when the cash flows once again. By rethinking your advertising sales strategy, you will be in the position to regain the ad dollars that have been lost and will be the publication of choice for industry suppliers when they once again have the financial ability to purchase advertising. So, don't stop selling. Sell harder by delivering a different message.
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Monday, March 23, 2009
I no longer need a newspaper to tell me yesterday's sports scores or to tell me tomorrow how the stock market performed today. I have always enjoyed the newspaper for its news coverage, analysis, commentary and its features. But, as they take away these things in order to reduce their operating costs, they are hurting themselves by alienating loyal subscribers such as me. It seems that as they raise their subscription rates they reduce the amount of content they provide. For the first time since before Richard Nixon resigned the presidency, I am giving serious consideration to resigning my subscription. And when enough readers also decide they no longer need their daily printed newspaper, the company will see a decline in their advertising revenues because of the smaller circulation. I don't subscribe to the Washington Post so I can get two daily crossword puzzles or the TV listings, but without these, it is more difficult to differentiate the value the print version delivers to me from what I can get elsewhere.
The point of this is that all publishers--commercial and association--must retain a proper mix of content that is uniquely available in each of the types of media they produce. Where newspapers are failing is that they have used their websites to reproduce much of the content that they deliver in their printed versions. And when they do as the Post is doing by taking away features that are well suited for print publication, they further obscure the line between print and online content.
Association publishers must remember the needs of their members/audience/constituencies and add value by delivering an appropriate and timely content mix utilizing all of their media. In these difficult times, it is easy to take the short term view of reducing content in order to lower costs. But, this economic downturn will end and when the money is spent again, you want it spent with you. Make sure the value is there to assure that you are the first place your audience comes when they are ready to return and begin spending money on dues, publications, conferences, and all of the other products you want them to rely on.
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Monday, March 9, 2009
The truth is that print media is alive and well and holding on to its very important place in the delivery of content to millions of readers. In fact, according to a recent study, Looking Forward: What’s Next for the Economy and Print Markets in 2008–2009 issued by the Printing Industries of America, the total value of printed products delivered in 2007 was $175.4 billion and is projected to increase to $184.5 billion by the end of this year. This represents annual growth of over 3%. That certainly does not sound like a dying industry. In fact, the printing industry is continuing to make significant capital investments in printing presses, bindery equipment and the prepress technologies necessary to support digital printing.
Where does this leave the association publisher wrestling with how to maintain or increase advertising sales in his organization’s print products while developing a revenue stream from the association’s website? The answer lies in the integration and branding of multiple media.
Package Your Products
Successful advertising sales that span both print and electronic products comes from identifying the value delivered to the customer from each, differentiating the advantages and then integrating the sale into one strong package designed to achieve each client’s objectives. For instance, the manufacturer of electronic components could not begin to describe each one in a full page print ad, but can easily provide specifications and other information from the company’s website. That company should use print advertising in its association’s magazine to drive traffic to its own website or to highlight one or two of its products. It could benefit from advertising on the association’s website as a way to provide a quick link to its own at which the visitor would be shown the full range of products and their specifications.
Does your association have an online job bank? Sell employers on using print advertising to describe what a great company they are to work for, and use the job bank to sell them listings of specific job vacancies.
Sell the time spectrum as a strategic advantage. An advertiser can reach the market today with a web ad, but a print ad can be very valuable when it appears in an issue that will be distributed at a major meeting or tradeshow or will have long shelf life such as an annual directory.
Online Version of Your Magazine
Extend the value of your association’s magazine with an online version that is updated frequently. Brand your website (or its content) with your magazine’s name. It’s a good idea to reproduce one or two feature stories on the web, but the online version should deliver fresh content not available anywhere else. Content is the key driver to bringing traffic to your site. It has to be new and updated frequently in order to keep visitors coming back and seeing the online advertising. The more frequently new content is posted, the more success you will have with an online version of your organization’s magazine.
All advertising-based products should have a clearly established price. Web advertising should not be given away for free or as a value-added benefit to print advertisers. Just like the rate card you have for print ads, a publish rate structure for your online offerings is equally important. Once value is established, you will then be able to offer pack pricing for those advertisers which purchase across your media offerings. Just as your print advertising rate card offers frequency discounts for multi-issue advertisers, your online rates should also offer pricing incentives for the purchase of combination packages or long-term commitments. You can also charge higher fees for premium positions within your site, just as you charge higher prices for cover positions in your association’s magazine.
Think strategically when it comes to the sale of advertising. Remember that ad sales success comes when you deliver customers to your advertisers so that they, in turn, get a good return on the investment they have made in your products. By combining your flagship print product with your online offerings, you will prove that print is alive and well and an integral part of your organization’s success.
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Saturday, February 28, 2009
Next, take a look around your organization. Do you have a meetings department that organizes your association’s conferences and conventions and coordinates the various speakers and presenters who will attract attendees? Do you have a continuing education department that presents face-to-face and online educational events? Where is the content that is posted on your organization’s website created? Is it done by someone in your IT department? Government affairs? Membership? Meetings? All of them?
The traditional view has always been that each of the above functions requires distinct skills, interact with different vendors and serve different purposes. But, in order to succeed in today’s competitive environment, association executives must realize that they are no longer in the publishing business, or the meetings business, or the continuing education business. They are now in the highly competitive business of content delivery.
Let’s look at one such example. A large association publishes several successful peer reviewed journals. Management of these periodicals is handled by the staff of the publications departments, the staff of which interact with the journal editors, keeps the peer review process moving, and produce and mail the finished product. The conference department is soliciting presentations to be given at meetings held throughout the year. The papers are then put through a peer review process to determine if they are worthy of being included in the program. Those that are selected are then published in the proceedings of the event.
Is there really any difference between the peer review process utilized by the publications staff and the peer review process utilized by the meetings department? The process is the same, only the deliverable is different. In one case the product is a printed publication received in a member’s mailbox, in the other, it is a presentation given in a face-to-face format and then followed by a printed or digital copy. The workflow management of creating and delivering the content is identical in both instances. Yet, there are two departments creating content and duplicating each other’s efforts and skill sets.
Most associations view their content-driven products as one of the most, if not the most, important member benefit they offer. Most people join associations in order to receive the publication or have access to events. But, associations are now facing competition not only from other associations serving their field, but from commercial organizations which deliver content and information without requiring the payment of dues. In fact, in many cases, the content is free and available to anyone for just a few clicks of a mouse.
Therefore, associations must be certain that they retain their value and one way to do this is to assure their members that they are getting the best content available from their association. This means content that can be trusted for accuracy, reliability, and credibility. But, it also means that the association must be able to deliver content that is not readily available from other sources. This is what brings value to your members.
It is important to remember that content is what attracts readers to your magazine and it is the presence of those readers that attract advertising. Content is what attracts attendees to your meetings and conventions and it is those attendees that bring in the exhibitors who want to meet them.
Something to Think About
Here is the radical idea: shut down your publications, meetings, and continuing education departments and create a new “content department.” Let each of the members of the current staff who interact with content providers (writers, editors, instructors, presenters, etc.) work together to identify the best and most credible writers and presenters. Let those who purchase the printing of your magazine also purchase the printing of your association’s promotional material, conference proceedings, and other goods requiring putting ink on paper. Those with the expertise to negotiate for and manage hotel rooms and meeting space should apply those skills not only to your organization’s meetings, but also to its face-to-face continuing education events. Finally, the content department should be the single point that determines what and where information is placed on your organization’s website. After all, your website, too, is nothing more than another content delivery product produced by your association.
Applying this model may be painful at first, but it will result in a more coordinated effort for the creation and delivery of the content and information that is so vital to your association’s success. It also may have the added long-term benefit of saving money by more efficiently utilizing staff skills and negotiating better pricing with suppliers.
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