One important aspect of success in advertising sales success is appreciating the real value you are delivering. Certainly, this value could be framed in the simplest sales/marketing goals — your ability to provide advertising creative and deliver a medium that results in profitable clients for your clients; both short and long-term.
However, we know that advertising serves other purposes with more indirect value, but only if seen in the right context. For example, of course, we can say that the right kind of advertising can enhance our client’s brand — and that elevated brand value allows for higher prices and much lower sales resistance when it comes time for other approaches (such as direct sales efforts) to turn the prospect into a purchaser.
However, measuring this brand-building value is difficult enough, especially since it only “works” if the branding is consistent with many elements outside of our (advertising sales) control. We cannot for example ensure that the client service standards match the message in the advertising — and I can think of few business turn-offs than advertising that promises but the advertiser fails to deliver.
This leads me to the final, and perhaps most important, aspect of advertising and branding relationships — our own business practices. If, as advertising representatives, we can create an environment where our own media brand is elevated in the eyes of our advertisers, we can escape the pressures of commodity pricing and demands for instant and unattainable results.
Here, I’ve learned some important lessons in the past few years as we transitioned our business from an organization perceived as a cynical money grabber who used tricks and techniques to force sales, to one that is well-connected within our communities and is expanding and enhancing profitable repeat and extended relationships.
The key to the change has been my advocacy that every client must have the opportunity to receive real value from us, even if the advertising doesn’t work. We achieved this standard by developing two tracks: One, building and enhancing our relationships with client-focused associations and, two, by making ourselves into impartial marketing experts and providing free consulting support to our clients. The two objectives often correlate — relationships and branding success built, for example, within the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association, led the association to encourage us to publish Ottawa Renovates magazine.
In the process, I also wrote the Construction Marketing Ideas book, initially intended as a gift to our advertisers, and started the Construction Marketing Ideas blog. Both projects have had surprising results. In addition to enhancing client trust (and branding sucess), they ‘ve begun generating useful revenue and sales leads in their own right.
We don’t compete, frankly, on circulation, cost-per-thousand or measurable evidence that advertising in our publications will achieve immediate results for our clients. Rather, our strength is built on the relationships, trust, and branding success within our community. In my opinion, this is a much better way to sell advertising.