Selling Advertising With Enthusiasm

Selling Advertising With Enthusiasm


Within your advertising sales staff you see many different personality types each using various sales approaches. Despite their differences, many are successful in making the sale. That has always puzzled me. The common thread I see in successful salespeople is the enthusiasm they have in selling advertising and the success they have transferring that enthusiasm to the customer. Following are three ways to use enthusiasm to sell advertising. Build enthusiasm in yourself. Build enthusiasm in your customer. Build enthusiasm in your reader.


Build Enthusiasm in Yourself – You have to feel the success advertising in your paper can bring before you can transfer the feeling of enthusiasm to your customer. You must be convinced of the success the advertising can bring your customer. You can count on your prospect’s ability to “read” your lack of enthusiasm and you may lose the sale. Often, your enthusiasm shows in your non-verbal language such as facial expression, body posture, nervousness, etc. If you don’t feel the enthusiasm it is very difficult to hide your lack of confidence.


How Do You Build Self Confidence in What You are Selling? - Product knowledge is the best way to build self-confidence in selling advertising in your paper. This goes beyond simply knowing your advertising rates and circulation. Learn the demographics of your readers. Know the listeners, viewers and readers of your competition. Use this information to show the strength of your paper and who reads it.

You can build your confidence and enthusiasm by knowing true stories of successful advertisers who have used your paper and the positive results they have experienced with it. Know the story and background of successful advertising campaigns that brought success to other area advertisers.


Share Success Stories at Sales Meetings - You can build this by sharing customer testimonials among your sales staff. This is a great 10-minute exercise at your regular sales meetings. If the salespeople know they will have to give a report they will be prepared and begin to ask their customers for success stories to share at your meetings. These success stories help confirm the power of advertising in your paper and instill confidence in your sales staff.


Keep a File of Success Stories – Each salesperson should have a folder containing testimonials from successful advertisers. They can use this folder to pull out and let their prospect read about how your paper has helped build customer traffic in area businesses for years. This is also a good resource for salespeople to maintain their confidence in the paper. When their motivation is fading have them pull out the folder and read some of the success stories.


Smile - During the years spent on the road calling on customers I developed some habits that made it easier to sell advertising. One of the simplest, yet effective habits was to get the customer to smile when I entered the front door. It is so much easier to sell advertising to someone when they are smiling. I wasn’t blessed with one of those broad, glowing smiles that lights up a room so I improvised. I hum. Sometimes I whistle. Either way, I attracted the attention of the customer when I entered the store and they always respond with a smile. I’m not obnoxious or loud, (some of you find that hard to believe) just obvious. Even on those days when I wasn’t in a great mood I always started humming or whistling just as I reached for the door to enter the business. The reaction was always positive from the staff and the managers of the business. They often commented on how happy I always am. Most importantly, they often bought advertising. This became a part of my routine and was expected when I entered their store. It was a minor event, but nonetheless, a bright spot in their day. I made them smile.

The humming or whistling also helped prepare me for the sale. It became the trigger to prepare me mentally to enter “the selling zone.” It kept me focused on selling advertising blocking out all the distractions. Once I entered the front door humming I was in selling mode no longer thinking about the last sale I just blew or the confrontation I had at the office before I left.


Build Enthusiasm in Your Customer – You can build your prospect’s enthusiasm by knowing true stories of successful advertisers who have used your paper and the positive results they have experienced with it. Local business owners can relate to other local advertising success stories.


Advertiser Testimonials - When a customer mentions the success he had with his advertising ask him to write a testimonial letter. Share the testimonial with other salespeople at your paper and prospective customers who need verification that your paper produces results. Have a printed copy of the testimonial in your briefcase you pull out when you need it. You can tell them the success story, but as we know in print advertising, it is more believable if it is in print. Let the prospect read the testimonial. A printed copy of the testimonial letter makes a great “leave behind” brochure. It verifies the impact of advertising in your paper.  TIP - If you use this as a leave behind brochure be sure to write your name, name of your paper and contact information on the sheet.

A publisher friend created a tri-fold brochure containing 20 or so quotes and photos from testimonial letters from various advertisers. It left a powerful impact on the customer. He included quotes that all told the story of how great advertising in his paper is. TIP - Don’t include advertisers that have gone out of business. It diminishes the impact.


Ask Your Customer for a Testimonial – Business owners want to appear successful. Ask them for a testimonial letter. Let them know that as a respected business in the community other community leaders value their opinion. By doing this, you bring them on board as a team member supporting your paper instead of an adversary you must convince to advertise with you each week. Once an advertiser commits to you in writing how well your paper works, imagine how much easier it will be to convince them to buy advertising space in your paper.


Build Enthusiasm in the Reader – This may be the most difficult of the three. You have to enlist the help of your composition staff, editors, writers, circulation and your customers. Everything depends upon the reader’s enthusiasm for your paper. If they don’t respond, you are in big trouble.


Build Great Ads – Whether your paper has won the Pulitzer Prize for excellence in writing or you are a pure shopping guide with no editorial content you must build great advertising. Most readers simply scan the display ads in your paper at first. This style of reading is an attempt to eliminate ads that they are not interested in. They do not want to waste their time reading advertising that has no benefit for them. They will however, carefully read advertising that clearly demonstrates a benefit to them, their family, their business or their lifestyle. Within three seconds the ad must show relevance to the reader. Generally, this is accomplished through the dramatic use of the headline and artwork. Great ads qualify the reader within three seconds before you lose them. Then the body copy convinces them to make the purchase. In a very quick outline, these are the elements that make a great ad. It is the responsibility of your paper to create great advertising to convince the reader to respond.

The advertiser also bears responsibility to make the advertising exciting. Regardless of how good you build the advertising, if the offer stinks, no one will respond. I guess that is pretty clear. Convince the advertiser to make a great offer to bring traffic to his front door.


Excite the Readers – You should have developed a program to bring readers back to your paper for each issue. Daily newspapers do this through excellent news reporting and special feature sections that the readers look forward to. Weekly newspapers usually do this by going deeper than the headline to provide greater detail than the reader will find in other news sources. Shopping guides will usually excite the readers with a broad base of classified ads or weekly distribution of grocery or department store flyers.

We can do better. Watch what on-line businesses are doing to promote readership. They are fighting hard to develop viewers (our readers) to come back their site daily. The offers of sweepstakes, prizes and free giveaways are everywhere just to build readership. Radio stations are giving away cars, boats and thousands of dollars to develop regular listeners (our readers). To keep our readers from wandering away, spending less time with our paper we need to develop campaigns that excite the reader and build anticipation for their next delivery.


Deliver More Papers – Your circulation department must create some excitement for the consumer to want your paper delivered to their home. Are you planning new subscriber campaigns? When new neighborhoods are built how are you developing new deliveries? Carriers, distribution managers and every person that works at the paper should be conscious of new delivery opportunities. Watch for new stores or gas stations going up for prime placement of your newsstand. Watch run down locations for poor placement of your newsstand. Is your newsstand clean? Is your front page attractive and inviting to encourage potential readers to spend 50 cents?

Your circulation audit should give you a strong indication of how good of a job you are doing at keeping the readers excited. Compare the growth of your area with the growth of your circulation. How do the numbers look? If you reach less than 100% of the market you have room to grow your circulation. Deduct your out of county circulation. What percent of the households are you reaching? Improve it. Whatever it takes, improve it. Better market penetration improves the response to the advertising in your paper. When response improves, advertising revenues improve.


Here is a quote to remember – “Enthusiasm is contagious. It’s difficult to remain neutral or indifferent in the presence of a positive thinker.” – Denis Waitley and Reni Witt in The Joy of Working.


Dave Baragrey is a business consultant and sales trainer for Publishers-Edge, a Special Section syndicate for print and on-line special sections, and Consulting business specifically designed to help newspapers and shopping guides.

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