September 28, 2015

How (and Why) to Use Package Selling for Ad Sales

How (and Why) to Use Package Selling for Ad Sales

Over the course of my career, I've often found myself in the underdog role, selling against some large competitors. In order to succeed, this position has forced me to think outside of the box. The most successful approach for me has been the use of package selling as a way to differentiate myself from competitors — and to generate much higher overall sales and ultimately higher profit margins.

With the right mindset and training, you can do it, too.

What's Package Selling?

At the most basic level, package selling is when you cluster a group of different offers together and charge one price. For example, when I speak with a prospect who is looking for a single ad in a magazine to help launch a new product, instead of just offering up a print ad for $5,000, I might start with a print ad, email blast and an advertorial/sponsored editorial ad for $8,000.

This type of package selling has a myriad of benefits for the seller and buyer alike. For the ad seller, you get a larger sale. In addition, it’s harder for the buyer to compare the direct cost of your ad package to that of a competitor single ad page offer. Also, the customer gets a more robust, comprehensive package for a reasonable price — which, in theory, should lead to a more successful campaign and a greater likelihood of a repeat advertiser.

Package selling is a great way to differentiate yourself from others in the media world because it allows you to create tailored advertising packages that reach customers on various platforms instead of just one. In most cases, you’re also generating more revenue and higher margins — which nobody can deny is a great win. 

Hitting customers on multiple platforms is especially effective today, because it’s increasingly more important to be where the customer wants you, when he wants you. We don’t know if that’s the Internet, the email inbox or the magazine, so it’s important to hit the person on multiple channels. 

Ready to add package sales to your ad-selling arsenal? Here are five tips for how to successfully package ads:

1. Figure out your buyer's goals.

Don’t start off with a preconceived idea of what a package should look like. Determining your buyer’s goals is essential in putting together the right sellable package that aligns with his needs.

For instance, is the buyer selling a product online at the moment or looking to gain a larger digital following? If so, perhaps the package should include the requested print ad along with a call-to-action email blast or assistance in launching a social media campaign. 

Package selling can also be a great opportunity to work closely with advertisers to get more exposure for both parties. You can create “As Seen In” mentions or write text such as, “Look for the discount that will be in the next magazine” in the buyer’s email blast as a great cross-promotional item.

2. Use discretion when package selling.

Let’s face it – not all buys are going to work as package sells. There are times when your customer just wants a one-time ad. Perhaps he wants to advertise for a big trade show that's coming up, and that’s it. In that case, stick to the print ad sell and don’t try to push him into a package.

Sometimes, buyers may also have strict budgets in place without much room for flexibility; trying to force a package sell could turn off the buyer. After all, you don’t want to pressure a prospective sell so much that they back out, right?

3. Think exposure for them, profit for us.

When we package, we put a fair market value on the additional thing (i.e., an email blast with a print ad), but typically, the hard cost of the additional item is low. The margins on print ads are thin because we have hard costs: writers, editors, printing postage, etc. But with an email blast, the hard costs are minimal. We have to pay a writer for few hours of work and then the emails are largely automated. Your margins can go way up if you figure out the low-cost value adds.

Another example would be your marketing material. Do you have any marketing pieces that lend themselves to the inclusion of an outside brand? Including Brand X as a proud sponsor of your organization on the next flyer, brochure or digital campaign would cost almost nothing to your cost but would sure have value to Brand X.

4. Tailor the package to the buyer.

Getting in the consultative role is the key to succeeding in package selling. Do your research beforehand and listen to what the advertiser’s goals and needs are. When someone is trying to reach a specific audience in as many ways as possible, or launching a new product or service, or opening new offices, these are all signs that they’re going to be a great candidate for a multi-platform package deal.

And if their main goal is to drive Internet orders, I may steer the package deal to be more digitally focused than I would have otherwise. It’s not about bundling as many things as you can, but bundling things that make sense for the buyer.

5. Teach buyers to focus on depth, not width.

At the end of the day, the proof is in the purchase. madison/miles has many clients that are package customers. One such client is in the security industry and used to run just print ads in a lot of magazines and had a pretty wide reach and good results. Now, he buys an annual package that include a convention show brochure; email blasts sent out with us; advertorials, ride-a-longs in our magazine and of course the traditional print ad that we initial started our discussion with.

He recently told me that he has eliminated almost his entire marketing budget with other companies and moved the money over to us. He said that having a heavier concentration with one source has increased his sales over previous years, when he was dabbling sporadically in several different areas. Sometimes, having the widest possible audience isn’t what matters most. Targeting the perfect audience for your product is.

Let’s be clear: Package selling is no secret. Lots of companies do it and do it well. But if you want to compete with the biggest of the big in the ad-selling world, you must get creative and put together packages that are a perfect fit for sellers and buyers alike.

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Adam Weiss

Adam is a business development and sales-and-marketing expert who has spent more than two decades in the media industry. As the manager of content and advertising portfolios for local, national and international associations, he has launched tradeshow advertising venues; overseen ad sales into countless publications; launched and published digital magazines and annual directories; and developed new sources of ongoing advertising revenue for clients.