Ad Sales Life

Three things that won’t be acceptable in 2023


2023 could be one of the most captivating years for news media. It may be a hunch, but I get the sense that this coming year will be dedicated to drawing the lines of unyielding expectations in all organizational aspects, forcing the tides of change and adaptation. Of course, there will always be room for strategic debate, but inept experiences on any social, cultural or technical level will no longer be tolerated within news media.

If you have plans or projects to implement that will nurture a more sophisticated and user-friendly environment at any level, then now is the time to execute. Readers, subscribers and advertisers are losing patience, and we must deliver experiences that align with current societal trends. If you’re wondering where to start, take a deep dive into the following three critical areas where you may want to improve your organization’s proficiency heading into the new year.

Substandard service

Every facet of your subscriber and advertiser experience should be abundant with personal value, technical convenience, positivity and quality. For example, reader interactions should be flawless, ad performance data has to be superb, media kits must be easy to understand and content should serve as a high-value resource within your community. In other words, engaging with your product should be pleasant, and doing business with your organization should be simple in every way possible.

The news media industry constantly produces new applications, development and content software and service advancement opportunities daily. In fact, over the last 20 years, these advancements have become essential and routine to establishing new states of normalcy and sustainability for news media.

Simply put, no one purchases phones that can’t text any longer, so why subscribe or advertise with an organization that hasn’t acclimated to the needs of today’s consumers and business leaders? The world evolves, and with its evolution comes a duty for all industries to adapt their practices, resources and services for longevity and viability. Not adjusting your content product or service to these modern higher-quality standards won’t be acceptable in 2023.

Antiquated sales gimmicks

Yes, psychology does play a role in sales conversations on multiple levels. That said, I’ve discovered that the best sellers have a genuine ability to effectively communicate the value of the solution that their product delivers for the needs of the advertiser. Now more than ever, advertisers in all buying brackets have a deeper context and understanding of effective media campaigns. Therefore, your entire sales department needs to understand how to effectively introduce and tie your product and mission statement to the needs of local companies.

Cost, urgency and time will always be a part of the sales process. However, trust and reliability in your organization and product quality have become the front runner for advertisers choosing one option over others. Be persistent in pursuing product enhancement and quality to deliver high-value, justifiable and honest solutions to advertisers.

This strategy makes for longer-lasting partnerships, better local and regional branding and higher retention rates. Rely on developing a better product, not over-promising elaborate theoretics, which won't be acceptable in 2023.

No data

I’ve often emphasized the importance of leveraging data throughout your organization, but data has become required to guide your strategy. I don’t want to overstate as I understand that data has, in some ways, maintained prominence in the news media industry for decades. However, I suggest that lacking stat relevance, probability percentages and data on all aspects of content and sales won’t be acceptable in 2023.

As a revenue leader, you'll need to understand average revenue per seller and subscriber, retention rates, available inventory, customer acquisition cost, financial forecasts and close probability ratios in condensed snapshots.

News media is vast, and consequently, data fluctuates daily. This collective information helps you better understand your circumstances as your organization's business development leader.

As you head into the new year, remember that we’re making history each day that we wake up and choose to dive back into an industry we’re all passionate about. I understand that implementation in the field can be challenging and exhausting. I encourage everyone to harness that passion to feed your energy in 2023.

We are all pioneers in time, and no idea is too small when advocating sustainability and success for news media. We’ve stepped into a new era, and it’s in good hands as long as the devotion to advancing the mission remains noble and plentiful with a fresh perspective.

Richard E. Brown is a News Media Alliance Rising Star recipient, the former director of renewals and digital sales strategy at LPi, and the former director of digital operations and sales of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He recently served as the head of digital subscriber churn for Gannett | USA TODAY NETWORK and is now the senior director of retention for The Daily Beast. He is also a member of the board of directors for the Wisconsin Newspaper Association Foundation.


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