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The Future of Advertising Sales -- It's all About Integration

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One of the reasons ad dollars are falling for newspapers, as well as traditional media, is that they don't fully understand the new realities of marketing. Two key shifts are taking place that media companies can no longer ignore.

First, media and marketing have always been about storytelling. Advertisers have a story to tell, and the media is there to help tell it. Today, however, media and marketing go beyond mere storytelling; now it's about storytelling and dialogue. That's why social media's so popular. It's not about the word "media"; it's about the word "social."

Unfortunately, we have community newspapers, television, radio, and news programs that are failing to build community through activity, engagement, and dialogue. Yes, they have a website, but for the most part they are static sites that are not engaging.

So in order to move forward, big media needs to focus not just on the story, but also on the dialogue. When you add dialogue, you're moving from the information age (where so many media companies started) to the communication age (where the audience is now).

Second, when we look at our traditional media players that are trying to sell advertising, they are still using the old model of media-specific ads: Radio ads just for radio, TV ads just for TV, and print ads just for print. But if you want to serve your customers well these days, you need to think in terms of a media neutral ad. Why? Because it's not about siloed media anymore; it's about the integrated use of media. The sooner media salespeople embrace this concept, the sooner their sales will rise.

For example, someone selling newspaper ads can no longer just focus on making that print ad sale. A better approach is to say to the customer, "I'm suggesting you take an integrated approach to your advertising. I'm here today not as a newspaper ad salesperson, but as your trusted advisor. And I'm going to help you to see how integrating newspaper, web, mobility, social, and radio advertising will give you better results."

This approach works because we're shifting from a transaction to a relationship. It used to be about "how many transactions can I get?" Today it's about developing long-term relationships that span price, time, and the competition. Building this kind of relationship requires a high level of trust.

To get higher levels of trust, focusing on the customer and educating them on the integrated approach to advertising is key. This is how media salespeople can get away from being transaction-centric to becoming the trusted advisor.

When sales reps become trusted advisors who truly serve customers and think in terms of an integrated approach, they'll see there's more opportunity to serve customers than ever before. Old media will no longer be seen as old media, but rather as more relevant media because salespeople are using new ways to create value. The time to start creating that value is now.