If you're reciting your rate card while you pitch your advertising sales prospects, you're missing the mark. Luckily for you, there's an easy way to reset your sales relationships, and it starts with blocking off some time on your calendar. Let's dive into why a needs analysis matters and explore how you can use this tactic to refocus sales conversations.
Set Aside Time for a Needs Analysis
Set aside an afternoon to talk to your biggest advertisers or prospects. Yes, you heard us right! This is a massive departure from selling your next issue. But, according to Mitch Olszewski, Director of Marketing at Telular Ametek and former Milwaukee Magazine sales rep, it’s a win-win learning opportunity:
“I would 100% clear an afternoon for [a magazine sales rep]. If somebody came to me with more leading questions about my marketing strategy, and invited me to walk them through it to provide meaningful feedback, I would absolutely do that.” Think about the types of information you could glean from a potential advertiser during the conversation. Some examples include:
- Composition of their current marketing budget.
- What channels they see as effective or not effective.
- Pain points in their creative process (design, videography, etc.)
- Current roster of event sponsorships.
- Intel on the audience(s) they most want to connect with.
During this conversation, it’s vital that you listen first and provide feedback second. Your goal should be to get to know the advertiser and determine which of your products or services best fit their needs. Mitch says this approach counters the normal product-first pitches he hears everyday (to which his response is often, “You can do everything! Great! But do you know what I want to do?”)
Build Turnkey or Custom Solutions Based on Their Needs
The logical next step that follows each needs analysis is evaluating how your media company can help your advertiser succeed. Package your products and services in ways that address what you've learned and present them with options.
Perhaps your team can produce video that can be placed on your website and used for their upcoming event sponsorships. Or, maybe, you can produce a custom publishing product that targets their key audience. In many cases, something as simple as creating an email campaign for a small business can turn into a revenue-generating marketing service.
Really, the possibilities are endless here. What matters is this: your marketers are busy and spread thin across more channels than ever before. Use the intel you gather to provide them with ready-made creative or editorial that pair well with the audience they need to reach. (Oftentimes, it's your audience!)
Here, Mitch sums it up well. "[Nowadays], I’m less reliant on publishers to get to my audience. But publishers still have content, and if they can connect how to create content [to align] with my marketing efforts, it's a win."
Replicate What Works!
Maybe, after a needs analysis conversion, you decide to handle an advertiser's local search listings. Or perhaps you take on a monthly content marketing push. Whatever the outcome, you need to replicate what works! The chances are high that other businesses in the same niche, whether by industry or size, need the same types of services.
Here's an example. Mitch has a sizable team and a good-sized marketing budget. But, for him, content creation is always a bottleneck. "One thing I do buy a lot of is sponsored content. I’ll give [a publisher] a topic, they write it for us, let me engage with my customers, and publish it for me. It's a great way to reach customers and then use it for more digital marketing mileage."
We recently spoke to Charity Huff, digital sales coach and CEO of January Spring, about content marketing as a source of revenue for publishers. Her take? Content marketing plays to publishers' strengths, namely in terms of their natural SEO authority.
When you sandwich this information together, you get a pretty clear picture of a profitable advertising strategy. Produce content using your existing in-house resources, publish it to your audience, and work with your advertiser to fuel web traffic. Moreover, this formula can be easily replicated for many of your prospects and advertisers.
Use Needs Analysis Data to Innovate Your Products
The important thing here is to try new ideas that blend your strengths with your advertisers' needs. If you try a new creative service and it doesn't work, you can use that failure to inform your next idea. Lather, rinse, repeat—and profit!
Interested in learning about other ideas and tactics that can help your magazine or newspaper publishing business grow? Check out Publishing Success, our free web series featuring real advice from real publishers!