Yes, I’m Optimistic!

President’s Letter

by Jim Elliott

Because my company runs national advertising sales for several print and digital publications and websites, I receive daily updates from salespeople in the trenches on what is working and what is not.  Because we sell large and small publications, and large and small digital media in consumer, association and b2b media sectors, we benefit from a huge flow of information and feedback about a very diverse sample. What we see gives me plenty of reason to agree with the remarks Bob Sacks ( made at the recent Publishing Business Conference & Expo in NYC:  the business of publishing is bursting with opportunity.

Sometimes the news sounds scary; print dollars in one publication were replaced by digital dimes. We have to think strategically to make sure we find ways to make up the potential loss of revenue. Often the answer is to create packages; a trade advertiser signed off on a multi-platform sponsorship centered on webinars featuring our publisher’s editor, promoted by the advertiser’s enthusiastic bloggers and website advertising, anchored by print.

Like the marketing student learning that buyers want “holes, not drills and drillbits,” we are constantly reminded that advertisers and agencies want “audiences, not media.”  Not long ago, we had just three or four major ways to deliver audiences. Now, there are dozens of alternatives, and we have the opportunity to construct packages to deliver interactions and engagement with our audiences in ways that would have been inconceivable just a few years ago.  

These new opportunities have impacted the ad sales business in many ways. Opportunities to meet with agency buyers are fewer, so the presentations must be better than ever. Speed of both planning and execution has increased drastically. There is no place anymore for salespeople who cannot work at Internet speed. Our more senior salespeople may have more experience with print, but everyone sells everything now—no silos. We have trained our entire staff to work in the digital arena, and digital is a very broad term. It is essential for sellers to have immediate access to every tool in their kit.

So, should you conclude that all of our new projects are digital? Not at all. Our two biggest consulting clients right now have asked us to create new business plans for print and digital publications. Today, we must be mindful of the importance of digital elements and be sure to include them where appropriate, but there are many applications where print provides advantages that are still unmatched.