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Free Added Value is Dead: Long Live For-Profit Integrated Media
By Helen Berman

With today's integrated media, the whole meaning of "value-added" has changed.

A bank executive once said that, until the ATM, the biggest change in banking was the introduction of electric lights. Until the Internet, you might say the same of publishing.  

Before the Web shook things up, we'd all become used to the "usual" way of doing things, particularly when it came to ad sales.  For decades, the goal was to sell ad pages and schedules, period. If we had any extra goodies - special positions, direct mail lists, bleed charges - we'd often throw it in to sweeten the deal. We called them "value-added products," but they were really just giveaways to get more pages in the issue.

With today's integrated media, of course, the whole meaning of "value-added" has changed. Publishers have had to invest, and heavily, in Websites, events and other costly magazine add-ons just to stay current with the competition. But here's the problem.

While the media culture has changed, the sales culture, for the most part, hasn't caught up. Publishing Sales teams that have spent years giving goodies away often find it's hard to stop, even as the basket of goodies gets bigger and pricier. For these sales teams, the name of the game is still selling pages. If a little Web advertising freebie stands between them and a six-page schedule, so be it.

Here's my take on that: When it comes to freebies, enough is enough. Now that publishers have become bonafide multi-media companies, free value-added is dead. Long live for-profit integrated media sales!

So how do companies give up the giveaway habit? In reality, there's only one obstacle in the quest to make clients pay for value-added. And no, it's not advertiser budgets or media costs, although those can be convenient excuses.  In my opinion, the only real obstacle is... fear.

It's not that advertisers and salespeople are scared about the idea of changing the status quo. After all, many advertisers are excited to try new media options in order to reach their customers, and many salespeople are excited about helping them. The scary part, though, is in the process. As the menu of media options expands and multiplies, all those choices and complexities can get downright overwhelming. Would a Web sponsorship work well for a client who's always run in the editorial feature? Can an e-newsletter tempt a prospect from running with a competitor? How do you prove ROI on a brand new online game feature? And while they were trying to figure it out, the search engines starting selling ads too.

No wonder salespeople keep pushing pages, and advertisers keep buying them.

But are they missing added revenue and added opportunities to reach an advertisers audience? That is the territory everyone's familiar with, the tool being print or online should not make the difference. Publishing Salespeople can sell effectively only that which they fully understand and believe in - and so far, that's left out much of the "new" media.

It's my belief, though, that both advertisers and publishers are primed to make the shift into for-profit integrated media sales. For one thing, neither party has a viable choice. Successful publishers are those who can make profit centers from each of their media elements. And successful advertisers have been moving their budgets out of straight traditional advertising, putting more into online and other advertising, Web sponsorships, custom publishing, shows and marketing vehicles. In short, publishers who give away "alternative" media are not only behind the times, they're cutting their own throats and making the new pay for click concept gets bigger.

For publishers, selling integrated media also yields other benefits. It helps them, clearly, to make more money, increase market share and cut ahead of the competition. More critically, though, it also helps them protect that all-important brand. The more advertisers utilize a publisher's different and varied media, the more deeply embedded they become in that publisher's brand. Advertisers are no longer just a representation on a printed page or a click on an anonymous web page. They can become a link on a Website, a button on an online page, an icon in a game, a sponsor of a program. That's a valued privilege, and must be offered as such.

An exciting speaker and inspiring sales mentor, Helen Berman has appeared at dozens of media conferences and seminars worldwide, in addition to writing popular sales columns for Folio and Expo magazines. She's also written the two-volume book, Ad Sales: Winning Secrets of the Magazine Pros and is working on a new book, Integrated Media Sales: Beyond the Page, Beyond the Banner. To contact Helen directly, call 310-230-3899 or learn more online

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