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I Just Called to Say... - 1/24/2012 -

Don’t let your focus on bringing in new advertisers lead to neglect of your current ones.

By Scott Oser

Congratulations! You have done what smart salespeople do by getting a large percentage of your advertisers to commit to their advertising schedules for 2012. This is a great accomplishment, and you should be really proud of yourself. Since you did such a good job of getting commitments before 2012 started, you can just leave those contacts alone and focus on bringing in even more revenue…Right?

Although bringing in additional revenue is a key piece of ensuring that your revenues meet—or exceed—your sales objectives, you cannot simply ignore those companies that have already purchased from you.

Just as when marketing to members, you want to form strong relationships with your advertisers. You can never forget that people are making the decision to advertise, and almost all human beings like to work with people they know and respect. To form that bond, and the loyalty that hopefully goes along with it, it is important that you continue to communicate with advertisers after they have committed.

It is not always easy to find reasons to reach out to confirmed advertisers, so here are a few ideas to consider:

1. Just say hello. This may sound strange, but it really means a lot to advertisers when you reach out to them to do something as simple as saying hello. The key here is to not sell them anything, but just to say hello and let them know you are thinking of them and appreciate them. This type of communication can be done once or twice during the year. This communication can be via phone or email, but you want to make sure that it is personalized because if it is determined to be a generic email, it will definitely lose impact.

2. Ask how their ads are working. This type of communication can be risky, as it is possible that an advertiser will tell you that their ads simply are not performing the way they had hoped. Even though you are taking a risk by asking this question during the contract, it gives you the opportunity to address the issue and provide a potential solution. It is much better to work with an advertiser while things are not working so well, rather than trying to solve the problem after the client decides not to renew their contract for the following year.

3. Introduce them to new research. Back when the economic downturn first started, companies were cutting back on their ad spending. What better time to show them research on how companies that consistently advertise during down times perform better when things improved? This type of research not only makes the advertiser feel more comfortable about what they are doing, but also gives your contact ammo to show their supervisor if their spending is ever questioned.

4. Let them know about new opportunities. Most associations develop new opportunities during any given year. As long as you are not too aggressive, you should definitely let your current advertisers know about these new opps. One good way to do this is by letting them know that since they are an existing advertiser and already know the value of reaching your audience, you wanted them to be one of the first to know about something new you are introducing. If you make them feel special, it will enhance your relationship, not damage it.

5. Request their input. Associations are always considering or trying new things. What better way to make a relationship stronger than by asking your advertisers for their opinions? In addition to enhancing your relationship with the advertiser, if you ask the right people at the right companies, you will get some input you can use to your advantage.

Relationship-based sales is what works today. If you know you can count on certain companies year after year because you treat them well and they respect you and see the value in your audience, your job will be significantly easier. Consistent communication with your advertisers is critical in developing these relationships. True, it is another thing to add to your already full plate, but I promise it will be worth your while.

Scott D. Oser is president of Scott Oser Associates.


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