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Pre-Flight Check for Association Sales Teams - 10/7/2011 -

Here are seven fundamentals to address before you make another advertising sales call.

By Scott Oser

Before you pick up the phone or sit down to send another email to an advertising or sponsorship prospect, here are seven fundamental things you need to do first.

  1. Know everything you can about your audience. Companies in the industry your association serves buy advertising because your readers are their current, past, or potential customers. Therefore, you need to know your readers (members) inside and out: Where they work, what title they hold, whether they have purchase-making authority, what products they buy, where they are located, etc. The more you know about your readers, the easier it will be to get potential advertisers to pay attention. It sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how many association sales professionals do not have access to or complete knowledge of this information.

  1. Research current and prospective advertisers. What are their marketing goals? What other publications are they advertising in? Who are they trying to reach? Has the amount of advertising they are doing increased or decreased? Are they advertising in print, electronic, or both? The more you know about your prospects’ marketing strategy, the better you will understand their needs and their current tactics, and the easier it will be for you to target your approach to them and get them to spend their ad dollars with you.

  1. Define your niche. In addition to knowing your audience, it is important that you define your sweet spot in the market place. To stand out from the competition, you need to know how other industry publications are positioned. How do they define their audience? What is their editorial focus? What is their readership? How do they price themselves? For you to know how you stand up, you need to really know the competition.

  1. Focus on current advertisers. In any sales effort, it is always cheaper and easier to retain a current customer than it is to bring in a new one. To keep your current customers, you need to know why they are advertising with you, how much they have been spending with you, has the amount of advertising they have reserved with you gone up or done over time, and what they are trying to accomplish by advertising with you. The only way to do this is to keep in regular contact with them during the year, even after they have already reserved all their advertising. A relationship with current advertisers will greatly increase the likelihood they will answer the phone when you call.

  1. Don’t keep advertising opportunities a secret. Many times, the only way that prospective advertisers know that opportunities are available is when you call or email them. Regularly remind prospects that opportunities for advertising are available at your meetings, networking events, on your website, in industry partner newsletters, etc.

  1. Work with editorial to make advertising a no-brainer. It is important to keep advertising and editorial separate, but if you work with the editors to write unbiased articles on topics that will be of interest to prospects, they will be much more likely to advertise with you. Work with advertisers to identify these areas and make sure they are promoted in your media kit.

  1. Identify new markets or market segments. Unless your ad sales effort is new, it is very likely that you have already communicated—or tried to communicate—with the tried-and-true segments of your industry. It is also likely that all of your competition has as well. Try reaching out to new industry segments that have popped up recently. These companies may have a higher likelihood of answering your call, especially if you have used some of the tactics suggested earlier.

Now that you have done your pre-sale work, it’s time to do everything you can to get your prospect’s attention. Read Scott Oser’s tips on how to break through the advertising wall when people are ignoring your phone calls and email.

Scott Oser is president of Scott Oser Associates.


 

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