While making the transition from being an all print salesperson to selling Web products, I looked forward to selling media that had accountability. "How 'bout those click throughs!" I would proclaim, like my home team had just won the World Series.
But after a few months I realized the click reports didn't make the sales job easier. While they ended the tiresome objection that asks, "Does anyone actually read this stuff?" it fired up a huge new one: "Your web product didn't generate enough clicks for the money." It turns out there is always a cheaper way to get more clicks than the one any of us sell. How did I not see this coming?
If all clicks are the same, and all clicks are a commodity, then your advertisers should buy the cheapest clicks they can find. To fight this, you have to sell the unique value of your audience. Not all clicks are created equal. You need to point out, given the unique nature of your audience, why your clicks mean more. But there are some rules:
1. You have to sell the value of your unique audience as you make the initial sale, NOT after the click report comes out. "After" is too late! If the numbers are low, you sound like a used car salesman pushing the next lemon. As you make the sale, take time to explain how your audience is unique, what they mean to the sale of your client's product, and just why a click from your audience means more.
2. Share category predictions. I find that after I see a few click reports go by my desk that I can pretty much tell a prospective advertiser what to expect in response. If financial advertisers on your website do not pull big numbers but tech advertiser do, tell them upfront. Here your job is to be a consultant advising them on the behavior of something you need to know about; your readers. This is also a great time to slip in stories, facts, ideas and anecdotes about how important your readers are to the sale of their products.
3. When necessary, talk about ad creative in self defense. Recently an advertiser placed an online branding campaign with me. Banners featured a well know industry figure, nice graphics, and a testimonial. I told the client, "Great ad, but don't expect any click throughs." Why not? Because there was no benefit or reason for a reader to click on the ad. Online ads that invite response are simply going to get more clicks than ads that do not.
Simple, right? But at the end of the quarter, when my clients evaluate the click reports, they often forget which banner creative ran where. Then they see the low scores. But if I brought it up before, I can say, "Remember we talked about that, it was that testimonial ad" then ask about about renewing their schedule...
The big blunder I made early in my online conversion was to sell clicks into the great online "blue sky," "Hey, some of our advertisers have gotten thousands of click throughs, you could toooooooo.!"
Don't do this. Be a consultant. Sell the value of your reader, and help your advertiser understand the response they will get, before they get it.