05.10.11 Trends in Advertising Selling

New York, NY – It is no secret the magazine publishing world is changing…rapidly. According to MediaFinder.com, from 2009 through 2010 more than 750 titles closed, setting a record that no one wanted.

“I’ve never seen anything like it, and likely never will again,” says Steve Giglio, a brand communication and sales training professional who works closely with executives at well-established titles such as Vanity Fair, TimeOUT, Travel + Leisure, Allure, Teen Vogue and more. “And the impact is felt most at the point where a sales person is out there communicating the magazine’s brand to potential clients. It requires a new way of thinking and that’s not happening as fast it should.”

From his experience, Giglio has created a list of sales and marketing trends that continue to affect how publishing leaders are handling the pressure of the new age. And some of the news is not so good.

Top Seven Trends in Magazine Marketing

1. Brand Blurring
Think of brand blur as the homogenization of a brand. Clients are allowed to believe that all publications on a certain topic (cooking, travel, sports, etc.) are the same so they go with the highest circulation. To counter that, sales people often invent their own “speak” they think is communicating their brand uniquely. However, there is no unifying message and the publisher is left with a brand being blurred by the very people who should know it the best. “Being in one voice allows a better understanding of what the magazine stands for,” notes Giglio. “Clients want to know the differences in brand from your competitive set and what type of reader it will attract. If you don’t make your brand’s mission clear for them, they will blur it with your competition’s…guaranteed.”

2. Digital: “Component-in-Training”
Giglio recalls many sales meetings where he’s heard “our digital product is almost complete.” That’s just not acceptable today. Nor can an advertiser/agency think the digital component is merely an add-on. Both advertisers and readers want to know that there is as much attention to the digital assets as there is for print. “Lose one side, you’ll lose it all,” says Giglio.

3. Marketing Makes a Cameo
Often, an account representative presents the overall marketing package to a client. A marketing person is then brought in to answer more detailed questions. But they are out of sync. It is mission critical that marketing teams are given effective presentation training and are briefed fully on the client’s needs prior to being asked into the room.

4. Everyone is Getting a Page
Page selling, the low hanging fruit. But it’s a short-term win. And, it forces salespeople to reestablish the brand’s value at every selling opportunity. Print in combination with the brand’s digital presence, be it web site or social media activity, requires an integrated program tailored with each ad cycle. The brand’s value rises from a page buy among many others to a critical communications program among few.

5. Battle Royale: Digital Team vs Print Team
Publishers generally have two sales forces: one for print, one for digital. Giglio raises the red flag. “When you have two sales forces, its difficult for each to respect the other. Often one cannibalizes the other for their own business unit.” Giglio recommends training one sales force in cross-platform selling to sell both components equally well, creating more flexibility for the salesperson and eliminating internal competition between units.

6. Good Morning, are you Familiar with our Brand?
“But enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?” That oft-quoted ego dig is represented all too well in many publishing sales calls. Salespeople lead with a walk-through of their publication, noting every angle, nuance, direction and option. “What they don’t do is listen,” says Giglio. “Taking time right up front to ask questions and listen to the answers for sales clues is critical yet not often done.” Giglio recommends his clients present their publication as a solution versus an immediate pitch, which requires knowing the client’s challenges first.

7. What Can I do to Get Your Business?
“Yes, I’ve heard salespeople say this,” exclaims Giglio. “If I were the advertiser, I’d say ‘drop your rates by 50% and rate protect me for five years.” When a question like this is asked you are a vendor not a consultant. And that means you are a commodity, something that can easily be replaced. You have no value. “Train your team to be marketing consultants,” recommends Giglio. “Get them committed to understanding the goals and challenges of each advertiser well before they present their publication.” By doing this, salespeople can then initiate their presentations by saying “Now that I have an understanding of your business let’s look at XYZ as a vehicle to bridge this advertising gap.”