As traditional media continues to see their long-standing business models disrupted by the revolutionary changes in how people communicate, the scramble is on to find their way in the new landscape.
In some cases, the attempts to adapt are no more sophisticated than reducing costs in one form or another in response to declining revenues. More often than not, these cuts come at the expense of the product-offerings themselves making them less relevant to consumers, less valuable to advertisers and in turn, more difficult to market.
In other cases, media owners have gone so far as to invest in new products and services developed to create some form of revenue stream linked to ‘digital.’ But in a game where the rules are changing faster than the cards can be dealt, those investments rapidly become dimes spent to chase nickels.
The one thing that stakeholders within traditional media seem reluctant to tinker with however is the strategy for how their products are marketed and sold. It’s more than ironic to me that while traditional media leaks revenues to myriad of opportunities created by the Internet of Everything era, very few media outlets have embraced technology to effectively market their products. In other words, when it comes to generating revenue, the plan begins and ends with rallying the troops to get out there and ‘FIND THE CUSTOMERS’ with little if any, value put on GETTING FOUND BY CUSTOMERS. What’s standing in the way of change? Likely some of the same challenges being faced by the media itself, the ability to evaluate ROI. A sales rep holding an insertion order can be measured. A sale via one of the up to 60 channels used by consumers TO BUY, is infinitely more difficult.
In his new book, The New Rules of Sales and Service, David Meerman Scott outlines in great detail how we live in an era where the buying process in controlled by the buyer and not a traditional sales situation that is stacked against them. He describes the internet as a game-changer that has forever altered the rules of selling and how access to real time information has/will replace ‘intrusive, interruption-based sales techniques’ that rely on filtered or spun messages from sellers. According to Meerman Scott the New Rules for Selling in 2014 revolve around 5 core principles:
- Authentic story telling sets the tone
- Content being the link between companies and customers
- Big data enables a more scientific approach to sales
- Agile selling brings new business
- Real-time engagement keeps customers happy
While the intent of Meerman Scott’s book was obviously to address how the approach to selling was changing across all industries, translating them to specifically relate to media seems a pretty straightforward exercise:
- Buyers want consistent unbiased information over spin. Participation over propaganda. In order to buy segments within a media they first have to commit to taking step 1, evaluating the media overall. In trying to get a leg up on competitors or create new/old initiatives in isolation, we get further away from the solution.
- Customers are eased into the purchasing process with content that makes them want to buy but on their timetable not ours.
- Information is omnipresent and buyers often have more of it than sellers. Investing in the right data and the strategies for making it available is not an option for sellers, it’s fundamental to the ability to function as a viable media option.
- When the customer is ready to buy they will use current channels and technologies to get the information they want according to where they are in the process, not when a seller tries to force it on them. The more information and opportunities made available to them at the precise moment they need it the better the likelihood of making a sale.
- In the media world, expectations are that sellers deliver 24/7 response times.
Speed = You’re in the game.
Speed + agility + data + content + authenticity = a decisive competitive advantage.
Are my interpretations of the New Rules of Selling applied to media misguided?
While writing this blog post, our website accommodated 8 media planners in the midst of the buying process: looking for information not currently available through any other source, engaged with the content for an average of 5 minutes and 58 seconds and I suspect, will use the information to execute a buy when their process is complete, not when I would like it to be completed. I can track who they are, where they come from, what information they’re looking for and what information they’re not. I can follow up with them to ensure that we gave them what they needed to buy our product. Most importantly, I know they’ll be back.
How many sales calls did you make in the last 45 minutes?
If you’re interested in learning more about the new rules for selling, the SlideShare below is a must view.