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Panpa Bulletin : March 2012
SECrEtS of SEllinG DIgITal THE fortunes of newspaper compa- nies are becoming heavily influenced by the impact of digital media and the fragmentation of our audiences. New data from Fairfax Media offers stark illustration of how many city readers are switching from print to tablets for their news consumption. Some 49,464 readers every day click on The Age and Sydney Morning Herald iPad apps. Web-based news consumption is stellar – 2.8 million a day for the Sydney Morning Herald and 1.7 million daily clicking on to The Age. This influx of new readers is all the more reason to know the best ways to approach an advertising agency. From their point of view, it’s better to have a clear and concise approach for digital clients, rather than to just wing it. “It’s always preferable for sales- people to come to us with something that’s well thought out, thoroughly researched and that is relevant to the clients that we look after,” says Corinne Moth from the Vizeum ad agency. “A good approach is to ensure any meetings or calls are meaningful and they shouldn’t be afraid to push media agencies to give them good briefs. “Cold calling is a no. Make sure when you make contact, it’s about something relevant or a great oppor- tunity for one of our clients, rather than just ‘touching base’ for a chat,” she says. The senior business director also says she still has experiences where there are two or more representatives from the one publisher, which creates unnecessary hassle. “It’s ideal when we have one point of contact to represent all channels of a particular outlet,” she says. “That way we’re only having one conversation rather than two or more, it’s a smarter way to work and gets a better result for all of us.” It sounds great, but for Fairfax and rival publishers, the challenge is to train their sales forces to find ad- vertisers who want digital audiences while maintaining similar relation- ships with their print clients. On the frontline of this challenge are sales executives. “Our print people go on ‘dig- ital boot camps’, which takes them through all the different products we have and they have a one-on-one tuition of the digital marketplace,” says Paul Sigaloff, Fairfax’s NSW sales director and general manager of digital sales. “In the boot camps we have a course with an overview of the dig- ital landscape, including search and display classifieds. We have people talking about different ad products within that. “And then off the back of that, once people had a session where they would be up-skilled in knowledge, then apply that to a live brief, where people would work in groups and come up with a response given the knowledge and training that they’ve just learned.” Singapore Press Holdings’ senior vice president and head of strategic marketing, Geoff Tan, says having an in-depth product knowledge is key. Similar sales techniques apply to both the print and digital worlds, he says. “Selling digital whether it is web, tablet or smartphone, requires both interactivity and engagement as intrinsic elements of the advertising equation,” the reigning PANPA Mar- keter of the Year says. “The solution must involve a recip- rocating response from the consumer, and this is seen not just in terms of a purchase decision.” Mr Tan says the response could be in the form of an answer to a poll, taking part in a contest, downloading a virtual coupon or voucher, or even blogging about a product. SPH publishes nearly 20 news- papers in four languages and many include editions for both tablet and smartphone. Selling ad space for these platforms could prove challenging, but regard- less of the language barrier, the products and sales techniques remain streamlined. “For the smartphone category, our main strategy is to push advertising within apps – what we call ‘App- vertising’ – and are usually in splash or banner format,” Mr Tan says. “Banner positions are placed in the news rotator which hovers as a con- tent item or is placed at the bottom of the screen. “Call-to-action or click-to-action mechanisms are incorporated into the ads to direct consumers to interact in a variety of ways – visit client web- sites, provide us their demographic and lifestyle data, activate a video, check out maps or engage our apps. “In essence, the mobile product is usually sold as part of a complete package, incorporated with our tradi- tional and online media platforms.” This formula is followed at the Herald Sun, too. Advertising sales director Fiona Mellor says when prospecting for new clients – especially those with minimal digital experience – it’s important to ensure their advertising is placed in a highly visible environment. New clients need a guaranteed, large share of voice. “There is nothing worse than hav- ing a new digital client not being able to see their ad,” Ms Mellor says. “Controlling client expectations is important for us, especially if they are first-time advertisers in the digital space. “Educating clients on what makes a successful digital campaign helps al- leviate any nervousness from clients dipping their toes into digital.” Although there is increased focus on selling in the digital sphere, Rohan Johnson, owner of Brisbane-based newspaper sales trainers Adrep, says the sales process should not differ greatly. “You ask questions, gather intel, identify problems and then provide solutions that will benefit the client. It’s the only truly intelligent, long- term approach that ensures every- body wins,” he says. “Selling is a process of exploration, with the singular purpose of finding problems that your products can solve. “Forget about what you’ve got to sell . . . focus on finding problems. Then, use your product knowledge to provide profitable solutions for the client. “When reps see themselves as sell- ing ‘a bag of tricks to help me get the client to do what I want them to do’, then they’ll struggle.” Mr Johnson says publishers’ sales directors must ensure staff are moti- vated with appropriate commission structures. A bad plan can demotivate sales force. “There is so much variety in terms of commission structures,” continues Mr Johnson. “Some are woeful and destined to fail, while others are closer to the mark. In my opinion there are a lot more bad (or pointless) ones than good ones in the industry.” oUtrAGEoUS fortUnE growing digital audiences offer a new frontier for cash-hungry ad teams A good plan fits strategy and business • priorities A plan should do two basic things: • dictate behaviour of sales people to fit strategy execution; and show them how they are rewarded for this Make plans simple – and all about • results Confusing plans create disillusioned • sales teams Write them to show how a salesperson • can make money Make targets realistic – or reps won’t • shoot for them Don’t be cheap: if you make them rich, • they should be making you richer For some newspapers, focus plans on • weekly, monthly results Longer-term plans are best suited to • larger businesses Scale payments so the more they • earn for you, the more they earn for themselves Be flexible so plans can change to suit • your business needs and budget Lastly, sales people who don’t care • much about commission aren’t real sales people – and you made a bad hire Trevor Allen NPA RohanJohnson’stips for mastering a commission plan The PANPA Bulletin | MARCH 2012 | 15