Tired of reciting your rate card while pitching advertising sales prospects? 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 needs analyses, why they matter, and how you can use this tactic to refocus your sales conversations.
Set Aside Time for a Needs Analysis
A proper needs analysis starts with setting aside a good chunk of your afternoon to talk to an advertiser or a prospect. Yes, this is a massive departure from taking five minutes to pitch your next print issue. But, according to Mitch Olszewski, Director of Marketing at Telular Ametek and a former Milwaukee Magazine sales rep, it’s often time well spent for both parties.
“I would 100% clear an afternoon for a magazine sales rep [who takes the time to listen to my needs]. If somebody came to me leading with questions about my marketing strategy, and invited me to walk them through it to provide meaningful feedback, I would absolutely do that.”
Asking key questions about a marketer's advertising strategy can yield a volume of information that you can use to tailor your sales proposal. Points of focus during needs analysis chats should include:
- Composition of a marketer's current marketing budget.
- Channels they view as effective or not effective.
- Bottlenecks within their creative process (design, videography, etc.)
- Current sponsorships and partnerships.
- Intel on the audience(s) they most want to connect with.
Listen, Listen, Listen!
During these conversations, 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.
Per Mitch's advice, a successful approach counters the normal product-first pitches that are thrown at marketers like him each day. (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 Marketers' Needs
After each conversation, your next step is evaluating how your advertising products and service offerings can create value for the business. The key here is to package your products and services and present them as easy-to-digest turnkey options for busy marketers.
Perhaps you could produce video as sponsored content for your publication and turn the files over to your advertiser to use on their own channels. Or, maybe, you could leverage your team's experience to create and distribute a custom publishing product that targets the advertiser's key audience(s).
Really, the possibilities are endless here. What matters is this: in-house marketers are busy, and they're spread thin across more channels than ever before. Focus on pitching ready-made creative or editorial products that allow them to target their audience. Remember, you're in a position to help—while also earning a commission!
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 great content [that aligns] with my current marketing efforts, it's a win for me."
Replicate What Works!
Start replicating win-win content marketing services and adding them to your pitch. After all, the chances are high that other businesses have similar needs.
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 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 [the creative assets] for more digital marketing mileage."
Sounds good, right? Right. Now it's time to start selling that same package as a turnkey offering to other businesses.
We recently spoke to Charity Huff, CEO of January Spring, about content marketing as a source of advertising revenue for publishers. Her short take? Content marketing as a service plays to publishers' strengths, in terms of both their in-house skill set and natural SEO authority.
Altogether, you can start to see a profitable advertising strategy that utilizes your team's expertise to ease your advertisers' marketing pain points. And it all starts with clearing your calendar and asking the right questions!
Use Needs Analysis Data to Innovate Your Products
In 2021, advertising sales success relies upon more than just filling your next print issue. Your magazine team is a well-oiled machine—in terms of custom publishing, content production, and editorial prowess. Now more than ever, it's your job to find ways that you can use this machine to help your advertisers succeed.
And the best part? Selling marketing services can generate recurring revenue far beyond a traditional advertising package. Just ask Mike Dragosavich of Spotlight Media!
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!