Does in-house sales staff limit creativity? Does outsourcing your sales risk integrated strategy? See what these two association veterans have to say.
Even given todayís print, electronic, social, digital conglomeration of advertising sales strategies, thereís one question that continues to live through the ages: In-house or outsourced?
Final Proof put two association publishing veterans on the spotóBirgitt Seymour, editor for the Professional Housing Management Association, who works with an outside ad sales firm, and Marlene Hendrickson, director of publications for the American Staffing Association, who works with an in-house ad sales team. Hereís their point-counterpoint discussion:
Seymour: Working with someone in-house, in my opinion, can limit creativity when it comes to advertising sales. By working with other clients, an outside partner has daily exposure to various successful sales strategies, and can then hone those strategies especially for your organization.
However, an associationís staff must treat an outside sales representative like a true partner and work closely together for the best results. Donít be afraid to share ideas about prospective editorial content. This probably is the most important strategy in my relationship with our ad sales rep. Often, these conversations will lead to new story ideas that benefit members.
I canít stress enough that producing a successful magazine is truly a team effort between editorial and ad sales. The result is healthy advertising and strategic editorial content that engages readers.
Hendrickson: Iíve worked with both outside and in-house ad sales teams over the years, and what it always comes down to is this: One size never fits all. To be overtly corny, each association is like a snowflake when it comes to ad sales strategies, and itís our job as publishing professionals to help our organizations develop the right solutions.
If the ad sales strategy for your publications is truly part of an integrated strategy for your association, then it makes perfect sense for an in-house sales team to sell your magazine, e-newsletters, conference sponsorships, exhibit space, website, etc.
The culture of your association and the industry it represents also has everything to do with the in-house vs. outsourced decision. If your industry is people-focusedólike the staffing industry isóthen it makes more sense to have a full-time, in-house rep that can deliver that high-touch, integrated service.
What works for your association? Weigh in on this point-counterpoint discussion on the Association Media & Publishing Facebook page. Or e-mail Editorial Director Carla Kalogeridis.