How to discover potential deals prospects and perfect your pitch
Before you can start targeting advertisers, you need to first understand who your audience is and what type of consumers subscribe to your email list. Knowing the dynamics and demographics of your list will steer you towards deals success. Let me walk you through how I have successfully used this approach with my deals program at the Rockford Register Star.
There are two factors that we consider when signing advertisers into our deals program. The first comes from understanding our audience, “I want to feed my elephants peanuts NOT worms.” This means that we try to promote deals that our customers are more likely to purchase. The second factor comes from national statistics we incorporate into our sales efforts. Statistically, food, travel, entertainment and spa categories all perform well on the national level and we try to incorporate at least three deals a week from these categories.
Creating a Prospect List
Once we have an understanding of our audience and have identified the top performing deal categories, we create a list of potential advertisers to target, which is crucial to our sales process. Initially the search starts by using tools like search engines, blogs, ratings and customer reviews to evaluate advertisers and see who is more likely to generate better sales volume.
Our next step is to collaborate with our management team to brainstorm a list of 50 to 100 local advertisers who are popular in our market and are deeply embedded within the community. We’ve found that by doing a little research, we are securing deals that give us the best possible opportunity to increase our email database and drive our revenue upwards. Closing deals with popular advertisers, however, tends to be more difficult and has to be handled very delicately. We usually approach these advertisers with an enhanced promotional package. Due to the potential volume of purchasers, we allow these advertisers to have a little more flexibility when it comes to the deal terms and restrictions.
Selecting Only the Best Deals
Sometimes we are approached by advertisers who want to run a deal with us, but unfortunately, we can’t always say yes. Signing bad deals hurts the reputation of our program and ultimately turns our customers away. Before signing a deal that an advertiser approaches us with, we research similar deals that have run in other markets. Researching how similar deals perform with different programs in comparable markets gives us a better indication of how a particular deal might go over with our subscribers.
This research, along with the local advertiser’s proposal, is brought in front of our deal committee for evaluation. If the committee agrees that the deal may not generate the revenue needed in order for us to meet our financial goals then we will promote it as a “side deal.” In order to be a “featured deal”, a deal must have mass buying appeal, receive committee approval and have the potential to at least generate $3,500.
Making the pitch
Typically, the advertisers we target understand the value of participating in a deals program. Our sales approach is designed to help them see the value in participating in our program versus a competitor’s in our market. There are a couple tactics we identified to showcase the added value our program gives them. For one, we noticed businesses respond positively to the word, “feature.” Because deals programs have no upfront cost, we are simply asking the business to “feature” their business in our deals program. We try and reiterate that because there is no upfront cost there is never any money transacted between the advertiser and the sales person. We make note of the fact that we will be featuring their business on a local media venue which has deep roots within the community. We explain our audience base in detail and how the advertiser’s message will be received. Also, we give details in regards to the deals process and what the advertiser should expect once their deal is over.
Once we have gained the trust from the advertiser, we negotiate a deal that is both practical and enticing for our market. This portion of the sales process encourages a partnership between the advertiser and our paper and an agreement that will conclusively produce positive results for both parties. Throughout the entire process, from initial greetings to the signing of the contract, our purpose is to convert the concept of how deals programs are perceived. We are changing the question in the advertisers’ head from, “Why would I ever participate in a deals program” to “Why wouldn’t I participate?”