Thoughts On Selling the WWW.

6 Tips For Driving Sales With Social Media In 2012

Posted by Dan Vigil on December 31, 2011

Will your sales teams be taking advantage of social media to generate leads and sales this year? A few years ago, companies were blocking social media sites with network firewalls to ensure that employees weren’t having too much fun on the job. While these platforms may be a distraction for administrative groups, they have become a valuable tool for sales teams. As social media continues its explosive growth trend through 2012, we’ll start to see more formal social media sales strategies emerge and even formal social media sales training. Here are some tips and tools that sales people can consider to take advantage of LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Google+ this year.

LinkedIn: With over 120 Million users, LinkedIn is the number one B2B social networking site in the world. While most users use the site to connect with current and former business associates, some saavy sales people have used LinkedIn to build a constant flow of new prospects and customers.

1. Focus On Your First Degree Contacts: Take the time to analyze your first degree contacts on LinkedIn. These are those contacts that are directly connected to you. Most people will find that their list is made up mostly of former work colleagues and school friends. Saavy sales people, on the other hand,  will use LinkedIn to connect to prospective customers. Sales people should get into the habit of sending connection invitations to customers and contacts immediately after every meeting or event. Just as great sales people spend time thumbing through their latest stack of business cards from the field, they should be reaching out to these folks with a LinkedIn invitation. While it’s still valuable to connect with colleagues, the salespersons goal should be to reverse their mix of first degree contacts. Set a goal to have 50% of your contacts be prospects and keep driving it higher each month.

2. Use “Advanced People Search”: Click on the small “Advanced” link to the right of the search field at the top right of your LinkedIn screen. This will enable a screen that allows you to search for people on LinkedIn by keyword, company, industry, level of seniority (Job Title), and interest. What more could you ask for when seeking out potential buyers for your products and services? Find prospective buyers and try to get introduced to them through your network, or find out what company they are with and pick up the phone for a cold call.

Twitter: With over 300 million users generating over 300 million tweets a day, Twitter has become a valuable prospecting tool for sales people who are willing to lend an ear to the millions of micro conversations going on.

3. Use “Lists” to Follow Prospects and Partners: Create lists on Twitter to follow prospects. Find out what they are talking about and what their current priorities are. You may need to do a little research to find out the Twitter handle being used by decision makers but it’s well worth the effort. By following them on Twitter, you’ll get to know them better and be able to identify opportunities to engage with your solutions. You can also gain access to prospects by following partners and competitors who share your same target audience. You can even use private lists so prospects don’t know you’re following until it’s time to engage.

4. Follow Topics, Keywords and Hashtags: Use tools like HootSuite and TweetDeck to follow Tweets around keywords, topics and hashtags that prospective buyers are looking for. If you’re in the advertising field you might follow the phrase “small business advertising” or “advertising help”. Listen for buying signals and engage with solutions without sounding too much like a salesperson. Once you’ve established yourself as a resource, the pitch will get easier.

Facebook/Google+: As the largest social networking site in the world with over 800 million active users, Facebook has evolved into a platform which can provide valuable prospecting information to sales people. Google plus has also successfully attracted over 70 million users and is growing at a phenomenal pace.

5. Sales IntelligenceFacebook and Google+ provide sales people with valuable inside information about what’s going on in their target prospects’ industries and companies. Sales people can browse client FB and G+ pages to see what they are doing, and what others are saying they are doing.  Status updates and updates from key employees can trigger engagements to introduce products and services.

6. Promote Clients & Prospects: Salespeople can use FB and G+ to spread the word about their clients products and services. This will help build rapport and strengthen customer relationships. Sales people should “Like”  or “+1” their customers’ pages and share their updates though other social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn.

While most of these ideas are centered around listening to and engaging with customers and prospects, sales people should also be taking part in social conversations themselves. They need to representing their products and services in social conversations. Clients will be using social networks this year more than ever, sales people can’t afford not to be there with them.


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Online Selling: 5 Part Online Advertising Needs Assessment

Posted by Dan Vigil on December 14, 2011

Selling online advertising requires more work up-front to ensure that effective solutions are built for advertisers. The client needs assessment is one of the most effective tools in a sales executives arsenal to accomplish this. Most execs are familiar with the process, and many even have a formal document or form that they can complete on a sales call.

While having this form is helpful and makes for a great accountability tool on the management side, it can be a bit too clinical on the first call. The best sales execs know that the needs assessment also provides the greatest opportunity to build rapport with a prospect. Keeping the interaction conversational builds rapport and trust rather filling out a form in front of a prospect.

By remembering this simple 5 part needs assessment, sales execs can collect information conversationally and allow questions to lead into discussions about online advertising solutions. While it’s still a good idea to take notes, a note pad or a notebook is more personal than a form which may appear more like a “system” than a conversation to prospects.

1. Ideal Customer Profile: What does the prospects ideal customer look like? Gender, age, income, location, occupation, interests. Use this query to lead into discussions about behavioral, geographic and demographic targeting solutions.

2. Buying Cycle : How long does it take for customers to make a buying decision? At what stage in the buying cycle does an advertiser want to reach a potential customer? Is the goal to build awareness, provide information, elicit a purchase decision. This query can lead to discussions about online display and search and how the two work together at different stages of the buying cycle.

3. Marketing Objectives/Differentiators: What does the advertiser want to accomplish with the campaign? Is the goal to drive web traffic, online sales, build email databases, generate leads, drive foot traffic, grow local (regional, national) share? What differentiates the prospects products and services from competitors?

4. Ad History/Product Mix: What type of media is the prospect currently using to advertise? What have they been using over the past year? Newspapers, TV/cable, radio/broadcast, yellow pages, magazines, billboards, direct mail, online? Were any of these mediums effective? What types of products did they try? Banners, video, contests, directories, coupons, SEO, SEM, email, mobile?

 5. Sales Revenue/Ad Budget: Sales execs can be sure that they’ve established rapport when they’re able to ask the client to provide information about annual sales revenue and annual ad budgets. These are usually the final questions in the process and are really the door openers to showing the client how they can increase sales or ROI with new solutions.
With a little imagination and a bi-lingual twist, AE’s can use the following phrase and acronym to remember these 5 parts: “I See More” or “I-C-Mas” (“Mas” means “More” in Spanish):
I-Ideal Customer Profile
C-Cycle (Buying Cycle)
M-Marketing Objectives/Differentiator
A-Ad History/Product Mix
S-Sales Revenue/Ad Budget

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Twitter Launches Enhanced Profile Pages For Advertisers

Posted by Dan Vigil on December 9, 2011

As part of a site redesign, Twitter launched enhanced profile pages for businesses this week allowing advertisers to drive engagement and build their brands.

Currently available to only a select group, they are promising to make the new pages available to all users through a gradual rollout. The new profile pages allow businesses to display a 835 x 90 pixel header across page, right below the account information.

Users can also include auto-expanding promoted tweets at the top of their timeline on the page, allowing them to showcase special offers and messages to visitors. The auto-expand feature allows users to display media such as photos and videos from partner sites.

Because the profile pages are “public”, users don’t have to join or log in to Twitter to see them. This could become a great advertising tool for SMB’s. The pages are easier to setup than a web site and allow SMB’s to update with tweets. Some of the first brands to launch are Coca Cola, Nike, Dell and American Express so keep an eye out for the twitter.com/brandname ads that are sure to start hitting soon.

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3 Crazy Ideas For Newspapers In 2012:

Posted by Dan Vigil on December 8, 2011

Are They Really That Crazy?

1.Earn A Degree By Reading Your Newspaper:

A professor once said that if you read the WSJ cover to cover every day for a year, the knowledge gained is equivalent to an economics degree.

Local Newspapers can get accredited or partner with local correspondence schools that are accredited and offer instruction via a special section in the newspaper each week. Subscribers can earn a degree or certification by reading a section in the paper every week and taking additional correspondence tests etc. online.  Readers can even complete assignments  outlined in the paper, and send them in. Additional fees can be charged for degree processing etc. This could be great for circulation!

2. Small Business Self-Serve Support Centers:

Most newspaper locations have lots of open space from old press and distrinbution areas, as well as open office space. They are also open around the clock.

They not only maintain networks of computers loaded with software and tools equivalent to self-serve Kinkos/Fedex centers, but they operate many of the printing and copying facilities that small business use.

With the cost of hardware dropping, newspapers could easily setup a bay of computer/desktop publishing stations which local businesses can rent by the minute. VIP membership programs can be sold that include local advertising or custom publishing services. This could be a great lead generator for sales teams, they’d be passing by local business owners all day long as they walk in and out of the office.

3. Incentivize Editorial Teams For Traffic & Clout:

Page views are the oil in the online content world. Newspapers should develop incentive programs that encourage editorial teams to produce, manage and build traffic to their own blogs, articles and online sections. The editors of tomorrow will be engaging readers through social networks and blogs not just writing articles. They should be compensated for measureable results, not just meeting deadlines.

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5 Directory Strategies For Newspapers

Posted by Dan Vigil on December 8, 2011

As newspaper groups continue to consolidate operations and sales efforts, there are more opportunities for them to capitalize on the scalability of the internet. Newspaper web sites on their own don’t drive much traffic. In fact, as a “local” content provider their audience is limited by definition. Local audience is very valuable though. As they continue to consolidate and form groups, the collective traffic and audience that newspaper sites create can really pack a punch if they employ the right strategies.

Directory strategies in particular are an area where substantial gains can be realized if they can think beyond the $25-$99/month enhanced listing model.

While it’s true that local directory listings are easy to bundle with print and substantial revenue can be generated from monthly listing fees, there’s real value in the platform and strategy behind directories when coupled with the scalability of the internet.

An effective directory strategy  for newspaper groups should include the following:

1. A Masthead Branded Solution: Directories should be embedded within the newspaper.com site and accessible via a subdomain or sub directory rather than a separate domain. This leverages the newspapers brand and credibility, builds trust, and creates a seamless user experience. This design also results in substantial traffic and SEO gains for both the newspaper.com site and embedded directory.

2. Self-serve Sign Up  and Upgrades: As SEO drives more traffic  to the directory and profile pages there will be more opportunities to engage business owners directly online. Self-serve also facilitates partnerships with other sites. Widgets can be placed on sites to drive sign ups from chamber pages, partner sites etc.

3. Promotional Tools for Businesses: Beyond the simple SEO optimized listing, there should be a back-end dashboard which allows business owners to not only manage their listing but promote themselves online this will build engagement and encourage usage of the platform. It’s very easy these days to incorporate Twitter and Facebook syndication tools for coupons and special offers. The product should be more of a self-serve promotional tool than a listing.

4. Lead Generation: As new businesses signup and complete their profile pages, an email should be generated and sent directly to local sales teams. This will provide a pipeline of warm leads which can be turned into more dollars beyond the free listing or enhanced listing fee.

5. Search Engine-First Approach:  Rather than being concerned about how much traffic is going to the directory from the newspaper site, the focus should be on search engine traffic. A platform/strategy that generates audience directly from search engines will win. The architecture and design of the platform should be focused on increasing search traffic, not site traffic.

While sales teams remain agnostic to a directories back-end in the short run, newspaper groups are faced with a tremendous opportunity to employ the right directory strategy and platform to generate much larger audience and revenue gains in the long run.

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Digital First Restructures To Drive Digital Sales.

Posted by Dan Vigil on December 2, 2011

Digital First Media which operates Media News Group and Journal Register Company announced some key changes in their organizational structure which will allow the group to drive digital revenue. In addition to a number of appointments on the editorial and production side, the new structure includes a streamlined sales structure which will allow the company to bring digital products to market faster.

The new sales structure includes a team of 5 Regional Ad VP’s and 6 Regional Directors reporting up to an EVP of Sales and SVP of Local Digital Sales. There were also some key appointments in the area of National Sales and Extended Audience Sales.

With over 800 products in 18 states, the focus on Local Digital Sales is the most exciting part of the move. While most newspapers have been focused on driving local digital, it’s been challenging to keep up with all of the new products and competitors that have entered the marketplace.   The restructure will allow Digital First to move quickly in the local space by streamlining product deployment and sales execution.

The company is also moving quickly to execute on some key local revenue opportunities which they’ve identified across all markets.  Digital First will begin rolling out the first set of initiatives next week which include social, local and mobile advertising solutions for SMB’s.

It’s refreshing to see that the days of the interactive product blitz are over at Media News Group. As we’ve stated before It will take common digital metrics, products,and accountability to fully integrate digital into legacy sales teams and this new structure from Digital First is a step in the right direction.

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Selling Audience: 3 Steps For Sales Executives.

Posted by Dan Vigil on November 22, 2011

Attend any local publisher sales meeting this year and you’ll likely hear the following statements: “We need more traffic.”, “We’re running out of inventory.”, “Our home page is sold out.” These are all indications that sales teams have become great at selling their sites but are still learning to sell audience.

Local publishers pulled out their calculators years ago and figured out that they wouldn’t have enough inventory or revenue opportunity to make the jump to 100% digital. This is why they formed partnerships with companies like Yahoo!, Monster, and AutoTrader. In fact, by virtue of being “local” they shouldn’t expect to generate as much traffic as the National players.

It’s taken some time but it’s clear that legacy sales teams are finally getting good at selling online display. The challenge is that many are still selling their sites rather than their audience. As audience metrics continue to mature and credible content becomes more valuable, publishers will benefit from a transition to  higher premiums for site-specific, targeted display advertising. For this transition to take place, however, sales teams need to become better at audience selling.

Here’s three steps for sales executives can take to ensure that they selling audience in their sales presentations:

1. Represent the “network” not the site. Sales execs should speak to advertisers in terms of their audience network, not their site. They’re not selling the dailynewspaper.com site, but rather the dailynewspaper.com network of sites which includes the audience that and advertiser is looking for. Executives need to take the time in their presentations to explain how targeting works and the fact that the advertiser is not really looking to buy a web site, but an online “audience”.  An explanation of how the publisher has partnered with a network of sites will make sense to an advertiser. In the case of Yahoo! a newspaper executive might ask his client to search for local news on Yahoo! to demonstrate how Yahoo! is simply another venue for local newspaper readers. In essence, Yahoo! is the newspaper. Account executives need to think of these partner sites as their sites.

2. Determine your “Total” inventory.  Regardless of the arguments made by this blog and others, many legacy sales teams are caught up in a “territory” mentality. Sales managers can use this to their advantage by challenging sales execs to determine and sell out their “total” audience inventory. If there’s an account executive that’s responsible for a region designated by zip codes, that executive should know how much inventory and what type of online audiences are present in his region, regardless of which partner site the inventory is on. This should become a target for Account Executives. Who can be the first to sell out 10% of their “total” available inventory? etc.

3. Blend the CPM.  As the demand for site-specific inventory drives those CPM’s higher, sales execs need to become comfortable with blending site-specific CPM’s with CPM’s from partner sites reaching a target audience. When done properly the advertiser will benefit from increased exposure on extended networks and valuable branding on publisher sites, without breaking the bank.

Online display advertising will be turning the corner very quickly from the lower CPM’s of remnant to the higher CPM’s of real-time-bidding, but direct sales channels will always turn in higher revenue per impression for publishers. The extent to which publishers can train their sales teams to become total audience sellers will determine their success moving forward.

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Adobe’s Tablet Publishing Suite Takes A Slice Out Of Publisher Margins.

Posted by Dan Vigil on March 12, 2011

Adobe Tablet-Martha StewartJust as publishers are settling in on the hefty fees they have to pay for distributing content on Apple and Google devices (30% and 10% respectively), they were dealt another blow this week from Adobe.  With the release of Adobe’s Enterprise Publishing Suite, publishers can more easily produce tablet applications using Adobe’s Creative Suite. Neglecting to offer specific pricing, the company is offering custom quotes to mid-large sized publishers based upon the following fee structure:

1.Monthly Platform Fee: This is a monthly service fee that publishers will pay to access hosted services, produce branded content applications and access prebuilt analytics reports powered by Omniture, Adobe’s Online Marketing Suite. There’s been mention of $699 per month as a starting point for publishers.

2.Per-Issue Fee: This is a fee that’s paid each time content is delivered into applications created using the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. This means that if publishers produce a daily issue they would be charged a fee every day for every subscriber who downloads new content. This fee covers the fulfillment of content into the app. These fees will start out at .15 per download and may decrease as volume increases.

Following the lead of Google and Apple, Adobe is trying to get a piece of the pie from content producers as well. If you add the 30% Apple fee to the .15 per-issue fee that Adobe charges, content producers would have to charge $1.50 per week just to break even. This is 50% more than News Corp is charging for The Daily. To deliver content daily on Google devices, the break even point is $1.17 per week or 17% higher than The Daily.

I’ve played with the Adobe pre-release for a couple of weeks now and it’s well worth the $699 software as-a-service monthly fee allowing publishers to more easily produce tablet apps directly from inDesign, but the per-issue fees are a little hard to accept.

Fortunately for publishers, there are other options. WoodWing Software, for example, has beat Adobe to market with their suite of tools which also publish tablet content directly from InDesign. While their setup and install fees may be a little higher, they are not asking for per-issue fees or charging monthly fees for hosted services. I’ve had the opportunity to tinker with their tools as well and they are just as powerful as Adobe’s without the monthly/recurring overhead.

While I’m a staunch Adobe evangelist, I have to disagree with their strategy on this one. I wish they would stick to what they’ve always excelled at, developing powerful publishing tools.  They should leave the content business to publishers or there won’t be enough business left to buy their tools.

Whatever the case, I think it’s clear that the tools are there for publishers to do it right this time and possibly turn the industry around. They need to take a tablet-first approach, and learn to create content experiences on new devices. This can’t be done with outside developers, the technology has to be embraced and become a part of the newsroom.

Posted in Industry/Trends, Newspaper Next, Selling Content, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

What Local Newspapers Can Learn From News Corp’s The Daily

Posted by Dan Vigil on February 5, 2011

1. Get back to the basics: While many newspapers are chasing the latest digital revenue ideas in an effort to stay alive, Murdoch has gone back to the basics of news gathering with The Daily. The application accesses location data but there are no fancy directories, mobile coupons , check in features or even the ever popular “Deal of the Day” programs that many newspaper companies are chasing lately. The Daily has gone back to the basics: charging readers for news. It would serve local newspapers well to start thinking about returning to the basics without the printed medium. The advertising gizmos will come after the new audience net is cast.

2. Separate the venture: The Daily was not rolled out as part of The Wall Street Journal or any other publication. It was built from the ground up with dedicated editorial and development resources. Too many interactive ventures at local newspapers are bogged down by legacy newspaper staff and management. In an effort to save costs, projects are spun off using internal resources at newspapers, they ultimately become under-resourced as focus shifts to the core in times of financial distress. Most newspapers are operating on a month-to-month basis which hinders their ability to execute on long or even mid-term projects. Rather than focusing on online-only ventures, they are constantly looking for ways to tie online to the core which ultimately takes interactive departments down with the ship. Local newpapers should create new business units for interactive ventures and make efforts to resource them independent of print operations.

3. Content is not king: The Content “experience” is worth more than the content these days. I admit that I’m more of a sales guy than a content guy, but The Daily content itself is not as impressive as the experience of exploring it on the iPad is. In fact, it’s missing topics like technology and business that cutting edge iPad users might find attractive. It seems like The Daily is geared toward the masses with “News” topics like John Hinckley Jr’s love life and “couples only” parties of NFL wives. In fact, it seems like editors are using online content activity to determine which topics to cover. Many of their topics seem to align with top trends on Twitter and Google. The Daily content is also available for free without the bells and whistles of the device if you’re willing to work a little. This is possible because the articles can be shared via links to web-based versions. Some enterprising readers have even taken the initiative to index content from The Daily on the web, making it easier for non-subscribers to access content without the experience. Check out this site to see for yourself: http://thedailyindexed.tumblr.com/ . It’s as if News Corp is not really trying to put a wall around the content, but rather the experience of consuming it on tablet devices. Perhaps local newspapers should do the same and strategize more about content delivery than content access as they search for pay wall models.

4. Get ahead of the curve: With approximately 20 million iPads in the market, News Corp. is taking a risk on acquiring 2.5% of current iPad users to break even on their admitted operating cost of $500K per week. It’s obvious that they’re getting ahead of the curve here. Local newspapers can follow this lead and develop similar content acquisition and subscription models. If they can muster the resources to develop the platform, it will cost local newspapers much less to serve larger audiences on tablet devices than it does to deliver in print. There are also more opportunities in crowd sourcing and social networking that make it less expensive to acquire local content. Local newspapers can start asking themselves how many subscribers it would take at 99 cents a week to support coverage in a local region. This is a well calculated risk that needs to be taken given the impending growth of tablet devices and migration away from print. People are still hungry for local news, they’re just looking for a more convenient and interactive experience, which tablets provide.

Posted in Industry/Trends, Newspaper Next, Selling Content | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

HTML5: Setting the pace for ad interactivity

Posted by Dan Vigil on January 29, 2011

HTML5 is not only making headway in web development, but also on the advertising front. As advertisers look for more engagement and interactivity than the simple click-thru provides, HTML5 offers great promise. Check out this video of an HTML5 ad on the NYTimes.com:

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