Clients, particularly in the smaller markets, tend to fall in three categories when we’re talking about digital services.
There are those who use it and know they need it and want it and it’s really fun to work with them. They know what they want and they know what good looks like and that makes it very easy.
Then you have the folks who are anchors out; they’re not using it themselves, they think it’s a fad, “We don’t want it. We can’t use it. Go away please.”
But there’s a substantial folk in the middle of those two who are going, “We don’t know how it works. We don’t really need to know how it works or why it works. We just need to trust that somebody is going to do it right for us. We have the relationship with you, help us.”
Jeremy / Lloyd
J: Last time on Broadsheet we talked about how important it is to educate your sale force. This time we’ll be talking about how important it is to educate your clients.
L: And that takes a lot of forms, so we’re going to start out with understanding the client, all the way through actually performing a needs analysis in a very official way and going into educating them through seminars and things like that. And we’ll wrap it up with an interesting way you can bundle digital and print stuff together so they can get the whole package.
J: So first up we’ll hear from Ad Taxi, Digital First Media, Graham Newspapers, and Fusionfarm about how they go about understanding the clients’ perspective.
Back then, it was really all about print and it was all about the Sunday paper and the frequencies and the flights and all of those things where we were able to maximize our profits as a business. Now, what we have to do is really think about how we can maximize our client’s profits first while still recognizing our bottom line which is a challenge for us.
The advice I would give other newspapers is definitely to consider what are the needs of the businesses. Take a step back from what your needs are as a newspaper and think, “What do businesses need?”
This is aside from news and the way that we deliver news. This is just really based on the marketing part and aspect of newspapers, but I think if you focus on what does a business need to be successful, what kind of marketing does a business need to be successful, and then being really honest with yourself of what you can deliver.
What we encourage our account executives to do is really understand that business before they go in, so they ask the right questions. They get to the root of what needs to happen. For instance, you could speak to a local dentist who needs to fill his chair, but what does that mean really to fill that chair? If the chair is not filled for an hour, what does that cost the dentist? Really, trying to understand that, how to fill the chair, how to get the first appointment, how to help get the consultation, and you can take that right across any advertising client from a jeweler to a restaurant, anywhere.
We market more than sell our products. We’ve been in the change of this for probably a year and a half training our staff that they are marketing people, that they are not sales rep anymore, and that we try to look at an overview of what each customer needs and then we place them where they need to be in the different platforms that we have to offer.
Well, it’s really all about telling your clients that you really care about them and what their needs are. Individual small businesses now are challenged with so many things. They have to think about taxes, and they have to think about rent, and they have to think about keeping people in the doors, and they have to think about staffing and so they’re not necessarily marketing experts. They’re very good at what they do in terms of the product that they sell but not necessarily good at the marketing side.
We deal a lot with owner operated customers. They’re busy doing what they do. If they’re plumbers, they’re out plumbing. If they have an auto repair shop, they’re under the car. They’re busy doing what they’re doing, and so we’ve got to find a way where we can help them reach this entire layer of consumers that are out there that aren’t reading the physical paper, and we’ve got to help those owner operators realize that we’ve got the tools to help them reach those consumers, which ultimately grow their business, which I’m sure they want to do, too.
Jeremy / Lloyd
J: So we just heard about the importance of understanding your customers, now let’s talk about ways that we can identify other products and services your customers should be buying.
L: Yea, it’s called a needs analysis, it’s something that a lot of sales organizations do. Everything from enterprise sales to marketing organizations like newspapers should be doing a needs analysis.
The folks we’re talking to now talk about doing it in a very casual way and a very official way.
J: So we’re going to hear from The Observer-Reporter, LA Times, Civitas Media and 435 Digital which is part of the Chicago Tribune about how they’ve gone about understanding and performing needs analysis for their customers.
Another word for needs analysis is customer development, and it’s the idea that you actually not talk – which by the way newspapers have been talking to their customers for years – but sit down and listen and what that means is closing your mouth, opening your ears, and trying to figure out what’s really going to work for the other person. It’s taking that empathetic approach that says, “I need to understand your problem before I can deliver a solution.”
The needs analysis for us is for new businesses, or a business that maybe we’ve been with for a while and we feel like we’ve lost our way. It is questions and answers about their business. Trying to get to the bottom of what it is that they want and need from this partnership, what their expectations are, what they’re goals are, and who they want to reach.
It’s about getting a good feel for where they’re going with their marketing.
We come back, we analyze it, we look at products that we have, partners that we work with, and we try and put together a multimedia package to address those needs.
We start off with not asking specifics about our own products, we really talk about an advertiser and what their business objectives are, who their target audience is, and then develop solutions that are based on our product set and our audience channels that fit those needs. We really approach it from a standpoint of, “What are you trying to accomplish?”
I would say that specific examples of products working for our customers, so we know when we walk in the door that we’re going to put together a proposal for a customer, it’s going to make sense for them. We ask a lot of questions, we find out what it is that they need, who it is they’re trying to reach. We try and do a needs analysis on the front end so that we know that the product we deliver on the back end is going to work.
David Lee Spencer
At Civitas, we do do needs analysis. I think because digital products in general are new we really have to train the public on, “This is why you need it.” Those needs analysis are very important. I think we do it, but not in a formal way. Like we come out with a piece of paper and say, “Hey, you know, do you have a website?” We kind of do it on the fly.
When you start talking to these people, I think the public knows they need something. Getting them to understand and define exactly what that need is what we do. Because a lot of times folks will go in and say, “Hey, are you interested in internet?” It’s like, “What does that mean?”
“Are you interested in internet?” There’s SEO, and there are different ways to do SEO. You want impressions. Do you want to do a pay-per-click program? You know there are all kinds of ways. When you just go in with something loosely defined, it doesn’t work necessarily.
The other important thing I think about needs analysis that we have an opportunity for is to make sure when we’re finished with needs analysis on getting to agreement on what the business objective is. When we put this proposal together for you, we’re going to be talking about these objectives that you’re trying to accomplish and make sure that when we’re producing performance reports and having post campaign discussions, we can match everything up so that there wasn’t a surprise.
I have seen it done the wrong way in the past where you put a campaign together and then you find out the advertiser really was interested in driving customers in their store but we’re selling click-throughs and that’s the disconnect. It’s just getting on the same page. Obviously listening a lot more than you’re talking, let the customer talk and they’re more than happy to tell you what they need.
One thing that I’ve mentioned, that I think is so critical, that it just can’t be overlooked is, we have to, we have to, be prepared to do needs analysis with local businesses. We have to be willing to be brave enough, courageous enough to be able to promise results, and to know our business well enough to know what it’s going to take to deliver those results and go back to the advertiser, and review the campaign. Take responsibility for it, when it doesn’t work, and work with them to find a way to make it work, and take credit for it when it does work. If we can find measurable ways to work with our marketing partners, the future’s very bright as a whole.
Jeremy / Lloyd
J: As you can see, a needs analysis is a really good way to figure out what your customers should be buying.
L: And it kind of opens the door really to letting them know that you provide these services. If you ask them, are you doing email marketing, what’s the first thing they’re going to think?
J: Should I?
L: I’m not doing email marketing, do I need to be? And is this the guy to do it, because he seems to be really smart, he’s asking me questions.
J: Exactly, so next up we’re going to be talking about a couple of different ways that we can go about educating maybe even more than one client at once and we’re going to have a couple of examples here from different size markets. We’ve got the York News-Times, which is a small newspaper in a small town in Nebraska, we have Fusionfarm which is at a middle size market in Iowa, and then we also have the Denver Post which is in one of the largest markets in America.
So if I’m a small business I don’t have time to add skills, to learn more. I definitely don’t have time to do marketing. Maybe I’ve got a Facebook account because my 17 year old daughter told me I should but beyond that I’m really doing the bare minimum to survive, to stay above water.
So if you’re going to teach me something and help me learn something, the best way you can do that is come to me in the place where I can absorb it. And the place I can’t absorb it is when I’m in the middle of trying to operate my business and you’re trying to bring something really complicated.
So I think if you can keep it simple, if you can provide a delivery method, maybe it’s email marketing or maybe it’s a periodic seminar that you offer, those are the types of things as a small business that I’m going to have time for and respect you for, I’m going to view those as assets. If you try and continue to harass me and really try and take me through a long and complex process you’re probably going to lose me.
We’ve worked on really a multi-step approach to educating business owners on how to make this work. We’ve done a series of seminars, so we’re doing some free seminars, Fusionfarm is, where we’re going out and we’re inviting any business owner to come in and we do an hour and a half workshop. We talk about how consumer habits are changing. We talk about the value of directories online and search engine usage and how you need to be there when folks are looking for your business.
You need to show up and how do you make that happen. It’s not promotional at all. We don’t try to sell anything at those seminars. It’s simply education and we promote them as educational. We provide some workbooks that say, “Here’s how you can do this yourself.” We’re not trying to sell our services at all there. We’re trying to educate to say, “You really need this. Here, we’ll even give you some information that you can go back and use yourself.”
People are dying to know what they can do to differentiate themselves as a business in the digital landscape. So many people offer the same products. All of our competitors have similar things to us. What is it that we can bring to the table that ultimately is going to separate us from them and to us, it’s that education aspect. What can we teach them that they’ve never heard before? What can we utilize in the partnership that we have with Google to help tell our clients what’s coming around the bend and how to prepare themselves as a business and to dig deeper rather than just your standard success metrics that we have in the online space.
What can you do to start to really show conversion, show leads and really put them in a position to succeed. It’s going to do a couple of things. One is it’s going to make the client happy and two, it’s going to help us bring in continuous revenue month over month. That’s what we’re looking for. These educational events, these partnerships that we’re making, it’s extremely important for us to help continue to push our clients forward and not just give them the same thing over and over again.
For search engine marketing and those types of things, being able to go in and explain the value of that, of making sure that you’re found in search results, it has to start with proving that that’s how folks look for businesses.
Even though business owners will do that themselves and that’s their own personal habits, they’ll know that when they’re looking for a business or a product or a service, they go to Google. Even though they know they do that, it’s very difficult for them to shift their thinking from, “I need to market to my customers via the way that I’ve always done it. I need a printed flier or I need to send a direct mail piece or put a billboard up.” It’s very difficult for them to think even though their habits are changing, the habits of their customers are changing and then equate that to how they have to change their marketing.
It’s been a real education process.
When you do events like that, you never really know what’s going to happen. Is this an engaged audience? Are we going to put them to sleep? Are we going to give them something that they’ve never seen before? Is this going to become a lead for us?
That’s something that again easier said than done but over time, it really is a numbers game. If we can invite 200 people and we can have 100 businesses show up and we can get 25 appointments out of there, we’re confident we can close almost half of those. It’s something that we’re really finding valuable in the industry and it comes back to one thing and one thing only and that’s education.
Actually, while it may cost more on the front end that you’re concerned with the CPM being a little bit higher than what you’re used to paying, it pays off because you’re only targeting those folks that are already in the market for your product or your service. The return on your investment is usually much higher.
We had a great event that I put together about 18 months ago that was pretty interesting.
Traditionally when the Denver Post has done events or Ad Taxi has done events, we always push a hard close at the end. I took the opposite strategy and said, “Hey, I want to just have this again pure educational play.”
We tried to think of the people that would be involved in the process along the way for a student going back to school. We had a parent. We had a high school guidance counselor. We had a student. We had college professors. We had a couple of folks from around town to help students get scholarships and apply for financial aid. We also had the chancellor of Colorado State University.
We thought we had this really well rounded panel and a Q&A session about what people think about throughout the process. From the presidents level it’s, “Hey we need more out of state students.” From the student’s perspective it’s, “How cool is your rec center,” and “What’s the nightlife like around town,” and from a parent’s perspective, “What’s going to be my ROI on this investment for my student? What types of companies are hiring from this specific college?”
What we tried to do, and we invited all of our advertising folks in higher education, was give them a perspective on not just what are other marketing folks are doing around this space in this region, but to look at every step of the process and some of the things that they think about and are going to be important to them and how you can use that to your advantage in your recruiting process as you bring a parent or a student down the funnel.
We had never done anything like that before. We never asked a high school guidance counselor to join us in a marketing event or to get a parent’s or a student’s perspective. To us, the feedback we got was incredible, I mean, just incredible across the board. We ended up getting hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of business from just people coming up afterwards saying, “Hey, I’ve never attended anything like that before. That was awesome. When are you going to do the next one? It really seems that you guys know what you’re talking about. We’d love to hear what else you guys have to say.”
Again, just taking a different approach to marketing rather than, “Here’s a pitch deck and here’s how much it’s going to cost.” The education part is really important.
Jeremy / Lloyd
J: We just heard about the importance of educating customers, sometimes a large number of customers all at once. In the next segment we’re going to be talking about how bundling print and digital together can be an effective strategy to not only educate your customers but to make it easier for your salespeople to do that education.
L: Yea I really liked Adam Lee’s example of the seminar approach because what you can do is bring in a bunch of folks, all at once, and you can get a lot of sales that way.
In fact when we had done this in markets we would have ridiculous close rates. 80% of people would buy something after a seminar.
J: That’s true, it was always higher after a seminar.
L: And the thing is, bundling, if it’s done correctly, can actually have an even bigger effect because you’re dealing with your entire customer base.
J: We’ve certainly seen that work very effectively in the markets that we’re in. So next up we’ll hear from The York News-Times, Graham Newspapers, The Observer-Reporter, and UT-San Diego on how they’ve bundled things together and how that’s worked for them.
When we started putting newspaper ads up onto our website, we talked about putting a surcharge on it, if you will, so we could help pay for the vendor that we used, and help pay for the time that was involved in getting them over. We didn’t know whether to make that an option, or whether to just bundle it into the price of the print ad.
We felt that really to get the mass, to get all of the ads over there that we had to bundle it with the print ad. From day one, we bundled it with the print ad. When a digital user sees the icon that says today’s print advertising, they can be assured it’s all in there. They’re not missing any. It’s all in there. We’ve converted all the print ads in that daily paper onto that site.
I think it was a good move to bundle it, and we’ve never looked back.
Me, personally, I’m a little bit of a maverick when it comes to bundling. I think there is no new bundle. We still sell unbundled and then ask people what else they need. Let me say it this way, I personally don’t think there is a bundle that you should be forcing down anybody’s throat. We know out there that there are businesses whose customers are largely over 55 years of age and they probably need 75%-80% print and maybe only 20% digital. We know there are businesses out there that are exactly the opposite of that and then we know there businesses that are in between.
We do package. We don’t use the word bundling because bundling tends to be you’ve got to buy it all in one piece and it cost X and these folks hang on to their purse strings pretty tightly, so we go in and we say, “Here’s what we have available for you and you can package two or three or the whole shebang and go print and digital and mobile and we’ll put it all together for you.” That’s where we start talking about let us treat you like an agency. We let them pick and choose.
We have lots of bundles that we sell. We bundle almost everything that we sell now in some way with digital and actually, we bundle everything that we sell. Even a straight print ad is getting SEO. We bundle everything that we sell. Leave it to smarter guys than me to figure out what that magic bullet is. I know for us, we have the tools to succeed right now, it’s about maximizing those tools.
I don’t necessarily think it’s a new bundle. I think it’s an old bundle but it’s just better packaged, right? At the end of the day, we’re still selling audience against media platforms.
For us, to the extent that we can offer solutions that are meeting the needs of the advertiser, that’s where the key is. We need to go out and do a needs assessment and figure out what their audience is and how can we deliver that and on what platform. Certainly for us and for all the media companies, to the extent that we can sell our own operative, that we’ve got more margin in that. But at the same time, we need to resell Google and Facebook and YouTube, etc, so we can basically command more of their ad spend.
Jeremy / Lloyd
J: We’ve seen some really interesting ways to bundle things together and we’ve seen some success in that way. Not just with these examples but from many of our customers.
L: That’s true, but I do want to point out that a lot of these folks have done it wrong in the past. Traditionally the newspaper industry has not done a great job of bundling because of transparency.
J: You’re right, we have totally hidden the charges or what we’ve done is we’ve added new products and services without explaining the value of what the customers was getting.
L: And what that does too is it discounts the value they think their getting. For example, if you automatically bundle in a display ad online with a display ad in print, you’re training the advertiser to think, “Oh this display ad online has no value.”
J: Yup, and that actually happened. I mean the 90s and early 2000s were about giving away banner advertising.
L: I blame newspapers for why internet advertising is so cheap. I blame newspapers.
J: That actually might be the case. You have to bundle things correctly. Our philosophy on this is if you’re going to bundle something you need to be transparent about it and you need to do a really effective job of explaining the value.
L: So let me give you an example of this. If you had a special section, for example, a common thing is to take that special section and just say, “We’re going to charge fifty bucks on top of that so a piece of it goes online.”And that’s it.
Well the small business isn’t going to see any value from that $50.00, you didn’t prescribe anything to it.
So what I suggest is put that special section online, charge that $50.00, but what you do is provide a report that says, “You spent this much money.” “What you got was X impressions in print and circulation, and you got X impressions online. You got X views of the ad.”
By putting that together you’re giving them that whole picture.
J: And what this ends up looking like, is marketing. When it’s all put together it all has value and it’s all working together to support an ad campaign.
L: And it all comes down to the fact that you’re providing value to your customers and if that small business is seeing the results they’re going to come back to you again and again.
J: I couldn’t agree more.
So next time on Broadsheet we’re going to be talking about different ad agency models. If you’re not a subscriber already, make sure you go to Broadsheet.org and sign up. You’ll get our emails and you’ll also find out when our next episodes will drop.
Thanks so much for watching.