How to Increase Your Ad Sales Prospects List
Your association wants to increase its sale of print and online advertising, but may have run out of companies to call. Here is a pre-flight checklist followed by a few easy technologies to beef up your prospects list again.
By Robert Silverstein
You have a good list of current advertisers and prospects, but you need to increase the size of the list to increase the number of ads you sell. But where do you go to find this new business? The answer may lie right within your organization. Before we look at the technologies that can help, consider these questions:
- Are you maximizing the relationships your association already has with its industry suppliers?
- Do your exhibit sales team and print sales team share leads?
- Are your event exhibitors and sponsors actively being contacted about advertising in your publication or on your electronic products?
- Do you have corporate members and is advertising positioned as one of the benefits they receive for membership?
The answer to all these questions should be a resounding yes. Depending upon the industry or profession your association serves, it is possible that the people making the decision to participate in your events are not the people who make the advertising decisions for their companies — but they know who does. Once you’ve gone beyond the information available to you from within your association, it is time to pursue additional leads with some outside help.
Competitive Media Tracking Services
One of the best sources for new leads is to track the publications and websites against which you compete. Companies advertising in those products but who are not advertising in yours represent a significant opportunity for new revenue. You can do this in-house by subscribing to the competing publications and tracking the advertisements they carry in a spreadsheet or database. Then call to find out who the advertising decision maker is in each of those companies.
But if you don’t have the time or resources to do this, there are several companies that will very effectively do it for you. Companies such as Media Radar (www.mediaradar.com) and IMS’s The Auditor (www.ims.ca) subscribe to all of the publications against which you compete and will provide you access to data about the media purchasing patterns of all of the companies that advertise in those publications or websites. They can then provide you with categorical listings of those companies, the size ads they run, and other information your sales staff can use to sell ads to those companies.
Although these services are not inexpensive, when the information they provide is used effectively, the costs should easily be made back through the sale of additional ads. These services are used throughout the commercial publishing industry, and their success with this information easily translates into success for associations as well.
Using social media to make connections and communicate with people is common practice, but is your association using this powerful tool to support its ad sales programs?
LinkedIn is a powerful social media site designed to enhance business-to-business relationships. For example, if you know the name of a company you want to reach but don’t know whom to contact, search for the company on LinkedIn, and it will show you the names of their employees who are also active in this online community. You can then invite those advertising and marketing decision-makers to connect with you and begin to develop a business relationship.
Next, post updates on the site about upcoming advertising opportunities that each of your connections will see. It takes time to build an active community of advertising prospects — and you should avoid blatantly pushing for a sale — but if you spend a little time each day searching by company for ad purchasers, you will soon have a new and current list of active prospects.
Finally, no matter from where you get the names to add to your prospect list, it is important to use these names in a way that will allow for targeted promotions specific to them, their employers, and their level of activity with your organization. Using a database tool such as Microsoft Access, or a CRM sales management tool such as ACT!, you can assign fields that will allow you to target companies in a number of ways. For example, you can sort by product or service sold, exhibitor or sponsor at your event, advertiser in competitive product, geographically, or any number of ways that will allow you to develop specific targeted messages and offers unique to each of these groups.
If your editorial calendar is showing an upcoming feature on a specific technology, create an email promotion only to those companies involved in that area of the industry. You can offer a special incentive to exhibitors who also advertise, and another special to those companies that may advertise in your competition but not in your product. Keeping up with the maintenance of this database and using it regularly will uncover new relationships that will allow you to offer enhanced value to those companies that have not advertised in the past or have advertised only once or twice a year.
Selling advertising is challenging — especially when the old ways of selling are no longer effective. (Tried cold-calling lately?) But incorporating the use of new technologies with a strategic approach to building your prospect list will provide your sales people with the information they need to close more sales and increase your revenues.
A member of Association Media & Publishing’s Content Creation Committee, Robert Silverstein is principal of Advertising Sales Experts, Inc. For more information about the tools and techniques discussed in this article, he welcomes Sidebar readers to contact him.