Re: Advice about selling online advertising
Hello Mr. Anastasiei:
For the past 10 years I have made my living selling online advertising.
I will share with you what has worked for me, which I can assure you is
not how the American Online Advertising Industry sells and manages
online ads! That is why I normally do not post messages to this list.
Yet for me, the following program has been successful, and your
circumstances sound similar to mine. For the rest of the Big Guy people
on this list, this message will be unrealistic.
In the long run I found it was faster, cheaper, and easier to just offer
free advertising for a period of time. If your site(s) has a readership
comprised of enough qualified prospects, your advertisers will get
response. Once advertisers get response they usually do not wish to give
up your advertising, and will start paying. My approach was not to give
them a long list of impressions, click through rates and other
statistics, but just real-world proof that banner ads and other
promotions work on my sites for them.
As with any advertising the "trick" is to pick advertisers who match the
interests of your readers. I have found that no amount of Flash,
streaming media, or other "rich" media makes any difference if what is
offered does not interest the reader. If the ads don't match the
content, then forget it. Conversely, if what is offered is of interest
to readers, they'll respond to even a simple static banner. For example,
if your content is about baking pies, and your banner is advertising a
great pie flour, you'll get response. But even a rich media banner
advertising the latest automobile will not do well on a pie site - in
By using this approach I have generated several advertisers who have
been my good customers for many years now. I spend little time on the
phone or in person with them. There are no sales costs involved. I don't
have to "sell" because they get the results they like. I send them a
bill once every 3 months, they pay, and that is all. Indeed I have a
waiting list of businesses who want to advertise as I limit the number
of advertisers I accept on any given site. Most of my banner customers
have been with us for 5 or more years so I don't have unsold inventory.
It took me a year of giving away free advertising to build a good
reputation. But once word got around that my banners and sites produced,
selling banners was not a problem. Customers called me. Of course, few
agencies could ever use this approach and stay in business. However, in
your case, it sounds like you are willing to hang in there for awhile.
And if you are a "little guy" operation like me, free advertising is an
edge you can offer that the Big Guys can't afford to offer.
I used both the phone and direct mail to get started. I mailed out a
simple post card saying what I offered. Then I'd call a few days later
and ask if they got the card and go from there. As with any similar
effort, many thought I was some sort of fool and did not respond to the
offer. But enough did respond to make it worth while.
When I had time I visited prospects in person. My approach was very
simple. I'd say that I was so confident in what I offered that I would
give it to them free for six months. At the end of the six months they
would know if it was worth paying for or not. I got them to agree to a
results tracking program they could measure on their own.
I'd call them once a month and ask how it was going. In most cases I had
to fine-tune and adjust the offer being made. This allowed me to build a
relationship with each customer. We learned together what worked and
what did not for their business. When you mix that sort of relationship
with a little success, few want to give it up.
It took about 8 to 10 hours per customer of my time over the six month
trial period. After that, there was no work. I learned what competition
was offering and claiming because customers would call me and ask my
opinion on what competitors had offered them. If the competition offered
what I thought was a good program, I'd tell my customer to go for it. If
it sounded like a bad program, I say so, and explain why.
Of course I had to stay as educated as possible on the subject of online
advertising. Over the years I have found that this list is the best
source of what is going on, and what the current issues are. In this
list I learned the terminology, issues, and technology of the day, and
from there I was able to make much better assessments of the information
presented in other Online Advertising sources.
I always made it a stipulation of the free advertising that I be allowed
to share the results with other potential advertisers. I had banners
that did not produce. I always told prospects what had worked and what
had not. I explained that like their business, my business depends on
repeat sales and a good reputation. Therefore anything which did not
work, I would not use, no matter how willing the prospect was to pay for
it. I have turned down business from prospects whom I know would not get
good results from any of my sites. I also refuse to have anything to do
with pop-ups or other advertising forced on readers.
All I use for results management is Web Trends and redirect files. Most
of my customers could care less about statistics. They decide to keep
paying based on whether or not their phone rings, people walk in the
door, or otherwise respond to the banners and promotions. I am lucky in
that my customers track their own results by simply asking their
customers what brought them in the door. Other customers, like the
banks, care only about branding and just want their name in view of the
My only problem now is I need more good content sites wherein I can
place more banners and promotions. That is a nice problem to have. And
it goes contrary to just about anything else you will read on this list.
Obviously this approach would never work on high readership sites where
there are a million or more monthly visitors. However, if you are just
getting started, if the sites you work with are still in the building
process, few other methods work as well.
The downside is that you can handle only so many accounts by yourself.
My wife and I have 91 accounts and we work ourselves to death keeping
up. We turn down about 3 good accounts each month because we know we
can't handle the extra work. So keep your eye open for a few bright
students who could help you out. You'll need them.
The best of luck to you in your efforts!
Ozark Mountains Website, Inc.
Received on Tue Jul 13 2004 - 10:15:47 CDT
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