Hey, All You Party Print Sales People, Stop Selling Pages!
But the magazine reps, they party more with their clients than any other medium's sales force. How serious are print publishers about client entertaining? One friend of mine who sells print space told me recently he went through a training course on how to eat properly when dining out with clients.
Another friend who has been selling print space since the early 90s is a living example of the print medium's focus on client entertainment.
Out with clients constantly, he often takes them to very expensive restaurants. He is greeted at the door by a smiling maitre d' who then walks him and his guests back to the table set aside for them (he employs a trick his former boss taught him of always dining at the city's three finest restaurants and tipping the maitre d' generously at Christmas).
When his client dinners end, he corrals the group to his local watering establishment where he is greeted now by first name and a first round. It's here where his clients feel even more at home with him. Even those who would normally prefer not to knock back a few too many, find themselves agreeing to "a jaiger shot?"
He has married his personal life to his business life, and the couple could not be happier. He is a successful director with a track record of market share against his competitors, and he and his team recently stopped selling pages.
It does not mean pages are not being bought, but he and his team are in the market selling multi-medium integrated communication programs.
These proposed programs integrate the advertiser's message with a reader benefit, across both their print property and their Web site. They offer this dual medium package for one price, and then figure out the split internally later, when they are done meeting the needs of their clients.
These multi-medium sales tend to cost the most to buy and are the most fun to sell. So why aren't more of these packages sold?
There are two reasons for this. Media sellers will point out that the online budget and the traditional media budget often live at different agencies, so coordinating a multi-medium sale is far more challenging. It would be like selling ice cream at one store and cones and cups at another store across town. By the time everything was coordinated, the opportunity has melted.
In addition, and a more significant barrier to effectively selling multi-medium integrated packages of any size are the commission plans most publishers have in place that don't reward this kind of selling more than it rewards selling pages.
That is where the party could come to an end for print salespeople.
Segregating the company's revenue responsibilities between their magazine and their online property causes those accountable to act in their own best interest, preventing them from collectively acting in the best interest of the client they wish to bill.
I spoke to a group print publisher and asked him if he had been involved yet in an online/print combination sale. He said no, but that he worked with his online counterparts and created an "online business game" promotion, but they were unsuccessful in selling it.
I replied with the following question, because he made me feel comfortable enough to do so, "So you created something, and then took it out to sell, as opposed to hearing the client's needs, and then creating something for them to buy?"
Once publishers figure out how to put the communication needs of their clients in front of their own need to distribute revenue internally, they can start effectively selling multi-medium integrated communication packages. Packages clients will gladly pay for in pages.