Journal Register Company Gains Close to 1-Million Dollars of New Digital Revenue With Blinder Group Assistance Using Share of Voice Sales Model
"With more and more people turning to the Internet for news and information, is this the end of the newspaper industry? Not by a long shot!" Stated John Paton Journal Register CEO, at a recent. "There is now an even bigger audience for our core product—news—than ever before. And in the crowded marketplace that is the Web it is the deep trust the audience has for print that is leading us and them online," said Paton, who went on to state: "To be in the news business now means you must run your business as Digital First."
"Digital First" has been the mantra of the Journal Register Company for quite some time and is one of the key reasons they asked the Blinder Group, a multimedia sales training and consulting firm located in Tampa Bay, FL, to assist their newspapers in developing a results-driven, multimedia marketing campaign for local advertisers, and help them bring these campaigns to market. "As Mr. Paton states, the audience already has a deep trust in print, and we at the Blinder Group believe that is also true for local advertisers," says Mike Blinder, President of the company. "It is finding a way to package our expertise in the digital space with the trust and respect the traditional newspaper sales team has built with their local advertisers—that’s the winning digital combination."
"One of our biggest challenges was that many of our traditional sales reps felt they did not have an adequate understanding of a lot of the digital terminology or product knowledge to effectively sell it," said John W. Krivosheyff, Corporate Director of Sales Development & Training for the Journal Register Company. "We needed to 'de-geek' digital selling and make it simple for our sales force to go out in the field and be highly successfully at selling our products." This is a challenge that Mike Blinder hears often. "My rule of thumb for assisting traditional legacy media sales reps in being able to embrace digital sales, is to design a sales program they can explain in 6-minutes or less," says Blinder who worked with the Journal Register management teams to:
- Leverage 'best practices' from the hundreds of Blinder Group sales deployments in similar markets and developed a results-driven sales program for JR with suggested pricing, packaging and target business categories.
- Build a sales training program for the local advertising sales force that would motivate and enable them to take these solutions to market effectively.
- Enhance the local sales team training by assisting them on sales calls with local business owners to properly instruct on best methods of product presentation.
- Increase revenue by gaining advertiser acceptance and "closing deals!"
After several consultations with the Journal Register management team, Mike Blinder suggested the group utilize a very successful, proven sales model known as "Share of Voice," meaning that instead of having the advertiser purchase online inventory based on a cost per thousand (CPM), they use the desired CPM as a pricing guide to establish a rate needed for a specific online ad position. "This 'Share of Voice' sales model is easier for the advertiser to understand what he/she is buying, as well as easier for the sales person to explain," says Blinder during his many worldwide training sessions. "Rather than having the salesperson say to the advertiser: 'I can give you 30,000 monthly advertising impressions at a $10 cost per thousand.' The salesperson should say to the advertiser: 'Your ad is guaranteed to be seen no less than 30,000 times a month within this ad position, shared by you and a select number of other advertisers, for a price of $300 a month."
For the Journal Register properties, a select group of advertisers in each market were given the opportunity to share a designated number of monthly impressions with a guarantee for their ad to be seen no less than 50,000 times a month, at a price point of less than $100/per week. "With this 'Share of Voice' pricing model, the sales call process is much easier 'on the street,' making the length of the sale call much shorter and the 'closing ratios' much higher," says Blinder. "Also, limiting advertiser availability, increases the urgency to close. In short, you can say to an advertiser: 'You can give me a no or a yes. And, a no is okay, since we will sell that slot to someone else." Adds Krivosheyff, "That sense of urgency really creates a call to action—you either come on board or miss the opportunity. I was amazed at how fast we had a "sell out" at some of our sites. We definitely got results."
The online ads offered within this program were available to be linked to the advertiser"s website or to a customized online "splash page" which can feature their latest deal, offer, special or current newspaper ad. "Having this link option is essential," says Blinder. "Many advertisers we meet with will complain that they do not want any form of online advertising because they are not happy with their current Web site. We need to be able to provide a 'total marketing solution' so all advertisers can see value from such a program. Having a choice for the online ad to link to the Web site or an online page we can manage for them, helps the deals get done, quickly!"
The Blinder Group Engagement Process
A complete, suggested agenda for the entire Blinder Group sales training/ revenue generation engagement was issued to Journal Register management, which outlined everything that needed to be accomplished to achieve maximum success from the entire Blinder team-wide deployment.
The Blinder Group agreed to:
- Build all sales materials
- Conduct sales training
- Provide marketing assistance
- Conduct "4-legged" sales training/ closing calls with local sales reps to generate new revenue
Sales Marketing Support
- Traffic analytics and audience information
- Local growth of digital advertising
- Value of print and online advertising as an ad source
- Extension of reach by using both digital and print
The Blinder Group has vast experience in creating such sales presentations. "Too often media companies do not graphically explain the online portions of sales programs in an easy-to-follow manner," says Mike. "This creates confusion during the sales process."
"I believe in the KISS principle—Keep It Simple," says Krivosheyff. "I was amazed at how engaged the prospect was with the presentation because it didn’t use any information that wasn’t relevant to them and their business."
Sales Team Training
"It’s about selling the audience, not the technology," says Blinder, who conducted sales training sessions for the local sales force of 22 Journal Register markets, to instruct on:
- Latest audience trends and basics of the media.
- Prospecting new multimedia business from new advertising categories.
- Putting together the right solution from your product choices.
- The benefits of bringing interactive products to market.
- The local website product offering.
- Overcoming objections and closing the deal.
"The sales training really does 'de-geek' the whole sales process in an informal, fun, and engaging way," says Blinder, who also uses the training sessions to also explain the difference between digital display (passive) and search (active) and the true value of the online audience. "When we shared our sites' audience and peak visitor hours, it became clear that the people coming to our digital edition were affluent, educated and employed," says Krivosheyff. "That was a real hot button with a lot of our advertisers—that’s the type of audience they wanted to reach."
The training also included content informing the sales staff of the Blinder Group's return visit. During these return visits, "4-legged" sales training/closing calls would be performed with the reps to assist in the launching of this initiative.
Sales Call Assistance
During sales training for the various local sales teams of the Journal Register Company, the salespeople were urged to set up a large amount of appointments with qualified "decision-makers" of area businesses that would be visited during the Blinder Group's return visit. The sales staff was supplied with proven support documents that reinforced the training as well as an appointment-setting script to assist them in setting up the calls. "We rewarded our sales personnel on qualified appointments set," says Krivosheyff, with the criteria for "qualified" being someone who could afford the price point, someone the rep had already had a meeting with prior the Blinder Group's arrival and someone who was a decision-maker for the company.
Introducing these advertisers to an industry respected 'outside' consultant who has had success with similar programs, with similar businesses, in similar markets all across North America is another key to ensure sales success of new initiatives like this. "The 'outside influence scenario' was very positive," says Krivosheyff "Bringing in someone from the outside…it just really gets all our salespeople excited, and the Blinder Group team is so positive and outgoing, it was just a good experience for everyone involved."
Also, during these assisted, sales training/closing calls provided by the Blinder Group, the accompanying salesperson learns new, valuable techniques on how to sell innovative programs in a more effective manner. The Blinder Group has a proven track record of generating high "closing" ratios, resulting in significant revenue for client media companies that have deployed this form of advertising sales initiative.
With the Blinder Group Associate/ Trainer in the markets for one full week, conducting 4-legged, sales training/closing calls with the reps, a 64% "closing ratio" was achieved during an initial visit with a qualified decision-maker with another 20% of business closed since the Blinder Group has left the market. To date the total program has generated close to $900,000 of new digital revenue for the Journal Register Company with additional dollars expected to grow over the next several weeks. The revenue can be broken down into the following categories:
- 1/3 were up-sells with existing advertisers to gain market share
- 1/3 were full year contracts with dormant/sporadic advertisers who used to buy newspaper advertising, but discontinued for a lengthy period of time
- 1/3 were new advertisers that have never advertised with the local newspaper
"Our success with at least two-thirds of the sales we made was due to the fact that we already had a relationship with the prospect," says Krivosheyff. "They may or may not have bought digital with us before, but this program, because of the simplicity, really made sense to a lot of advertisers to extend their reach and reach an entirely new audience with, in a lot of cases, very little duplication."
For the Journal Register Company:
John Krivosheyff, Training Manager
For The Blinder Group:
Mike Blinder, President
Blinder Group Inc.
The Blinder Group
Tampa Offices: 6139 Fjord Way
New Port Richey, FL 34652 USA
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