The Advertising Sales Process . . . in a Nutshell
By Cheryl Woodard, Posted March 2002
Step One: Develop a Prospects Database
You can rent mailing lists, comb through competitive publications, or use the yellow pages to find companies who are trying to sell something to your audience. Do your homework and find out who makes the buying decisions for each advertiser. Big companies generally use advertising agencies to help them decide where to run their ads, and of course to create their ads for them. Smaller companies generally make those decisions for themselves. There are reference books in any good business library that will tell you which advertising agency handles which advertisers. While you're doing this research, study where the advertiser is already running their ads and what kind of customers they seem to be trying to reach. The point is that you can save a lot of money and trouble if you carefully research the prospects before you try to approach them.
Step Two: Make Contact
Now write to the decision-makers at each company to introduce yourself.
Include something about your publication, enough to make them interested
in learning more. For example, include a sample issue and a brief letter
describing your circulation and readership. Ask for an appointment, either
in person or by telephone to discuss their interest.
Step Three: Prepare a Proposal
Call or meet with them after they've had plenty of time to review your media kit. This is another fact-finding meeting. You want to find out everything you can about their advertising goals: targeted customers, budget, expected results from advertising, and so on. After this meeting or telephone interview, you will go home and create an advertising proposal for each prospect. The proposal suggests a certain size of ad and frequency, based on what they've told you about their budget and needs. It also includes the price to them based on your rate card and any special offer you are willing to make to them (one free ad if they buy three for example, or a special first-time discount). If you've been listening to them well, and if your publication really does address their needs, then your proposal will be acceptable to them.
Step Four: Close the Sale
Close the sale (either by telephone or in person) by having the advertiser
submit an insertion order, which is like a purchase order specifying
what size of ad they're buying and for which issues of your publication,
and at what price. You can't bill them for the ad until it has been published
in your magazine, so help them to supply their advertising materials
on time and in the format you need for reproduction in your publication.
Read more details about selling ads - from setting prices to hiring sales reps - in my book, Starting and Running a Successful Newsletter or Magazine, 5th Edition. You can find it in a library or retail bookstores, or order it from Amazon.com.
My consulting group helps publishers launch, run and grow newsletters, websites and magazines. If you have questions about selling ads, or if you're having trouble selling enough of them, email Help@Publishingbiz.com Tell us about your situation and we'll give you a proposal showing exactly how we can help you.