September 20, 2014

And, newspapers have the money for genius-level ad reps?

I think Editor and Publisher is becoming divorced from reality, more and more. (That said, it probably isn't making money, or close to it, even as an online-only product, and thus is stretching the bounds more and more.)

This new article, about what newspapers should want in their "Net 2.0" sales force, is a good example.

Millennials are a great work force? Really?

Beyond that snark, let's get to the meat of the article.

And, how much is an ad salesperson whom you also expect to be an "educator" and more going to want? Probably more in money, and more in non-monetary compensation, than a newspaper is going to pay based on the overall sales market in the area.

So, let's be skeptical of this:

(360 Ad Sales chief executive officer Ryan) Dohrn advises publishers to hire sales people who can be educators. “New products come out every day and they need to be able to teach people about them.” Communication plays a big part, but Dohrn said sales people should also “listen more and talk less” in order to find what advertisers need.
Related to that, where's the training money coming from? And, do people like Dohrn provide any guarantees?

Then, there’s problems like this in the piece:
Even though “advertisers are fleeing print for digital,” said Dohrn, sales people are constantly requesting help on “how not to cannibalize print for digital.”
 “The problem is marketing,” he said. “Look at where you live and at advertisers like car dealers and jewelers. They’re everywhere. They understand marketing 101. You need to advertise in multiple ways on multiple days.”
 To be successful, Dohrn said sales people need to help advertisers understand multimedia. “Offer a better affordable package that includes print, social media and video. Don’t make it print verses digital.”
But, that IS quasi-cannibalizing, at least. You’re being “forced” to offer a lower price on a multimedia product.

Meanwhile, you have advisers contradicting one another. Remember Dohrn, talking about  selling multimedia packages? Arnie Stein disagrees:
“Look hard at separating your print and digital sales teams,” Stein said. “If your digital revenue is 20 percent or more of your core revenue, consider spinning them off into separate sales teams and working in non-traditional ways.”
So, which is it? Especially if these trainers don’t guarantee results, it compounds the problem. 

Also not mentioned here is the extra time on building different advertising products. That’s especially true if video is involved. Is a smaller-sized daily paper, even one that posts one or two 30-second video quickies a week to its website on the news side, really equipped to shoot video of an advertising client? Erm, no.

If the town is too small for a TV station, the video is still going to be compared in quality to that on the nearest regional station.

And, are you as a paper then going to scrape up the money to get a staff photographer who’s that good at video? And how much salary will he or she want?

Speaking of, we finally get a small dose of realism, three-quarters of the way in:
“The biggest change post-recession is lack of sales staff. There are not enough feet on the street, not enough inside reps making outbound calls to get back to pre-recession revenues,” (Janet) DeGeorge said. “Sales staff cuts have to be replenished in order to get the money back again.” 
But, it's more than just post-recession, at least at larger papers. The big chains continue to cut and cut and cut, even at seven-day dailies of, say medium-small 25K circulation. Those cuts aren't going to be replenished.

I agree with one publisher, that you can find easy non-gimmick tricks, like making the font size in your print classys larger. But, should it have taken this long after the collapse of newspapers, to think about something like that?

Also, that's not digitally-related at all. It's pure print.

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