Guest Columns
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Looking ahead: How publishers can reconcile their sales strategies without in-person business meetings

OPINION

One of the primary ways publishers drive new ad business is through in-person meetings with agencies. However, according to recent findings, 87% of media buyers don’t anticipate taking any in-office vendor meetings until next year and 19% remain unsure of when they may begin taking in-person vendor meetings. Furthermore, 55% of media buyers aren’t planning to return to the office this year and 13% are unsure of when they will return.

These figures represent a profound shift in how agencies conduct business. The fact that agencies don’t expect to meet with vendors in the office anytime soon means that publishers need to find other ways both to connect with agencies and to use their T&E budgets to attract advertisers.

Publishers have diversified their revenue streams in previous years to adapt to industry shifts, and have been forced to go even further during the last several months with virtual events, new products and removing paywalls as a way to gain more subscribers.

Publishers’ sales methods are continuously being affected by the changes in the advertising industry, and with agencies’ business models changing, now is the time for publishers to update their own business strategies.

Focus on Building Strong Relationships

In a socially-distant business world, publishers should push to stay engaged with partners and prospects through strategic touchpoints. Video meetings have replaced in-person meetings, and opportunities to connect online abound.

Being “professional” used to imply leaving personal narratives out of the conversation. Now, personal is what sticks. A business relationship consists of more than talks of deliverables, timelines and ROI. The little details around what one did during the weekend or how one is handling quarantining become the glue that holds a relationship together.  It is beneficial to blend life and work at times and let people in. Pets, children and personal office touches are memorable and help to forge connections.

Part of maintaining and growing a relationship with agencies and other partners is listening and figuring out where and when the two can support each other. Yes, both businesses and individuals have become accustomed to new ways of living and working due to the pandemic and subsequent struggles, but thinking in the long-term and helping one another strategize on how best to move forward is one of the best ways to maintain a successful partnership.   

A New Approach to Events

Events have been reimagined and reinvented this year to suit the virtual environment and while there are some elements that can’t be replicated on the screen, professionals are increasingly turning to virtual events for networking, knowledge sharing and thought leadership.

There are some obvious event choices like conferences that were beneficial in-person that have gone virtual. These will likely engage a similar audience and are safe bets. The events that are worth additional consideration are the more intimate events like webinars and roundtable discussions. Many companies are investing in these owned events to engage their customers and community, making them great vehicles for building relationships.

Yet another overlooked category of virtual events that are beneficial for business connections are online courses. Continuing education has exploded this year, with people eager to invest in their career growth. Courses often have built-in networking opportunities and participants are sometimes given the class list, which can contain hundreds of names, to reference.

Publishers are being presented both with challenges and opportunities to reinvent themselves. As their partners – agencies, media buyers and brands – continue to pivot in strategy, publishers should seize the opportunity. By placing greater emphasis on a digital-first strategy and doing more to connect with their prospects, publishers will see revenues and audiences rise.

Michael Forgash
Account Director, SRDS

SRDS is the industry standard for media buying and planning, providing agencies and brands with comprehensive and efficient means to incorporate digital and traditional media into modern audience-first buying practices. For over 100 years, brands and agencies have relied on SRDS and its extensive U.S. media data to make informed decisions and plan smarter campaigns. For publishers, SRDS is a powerful revenue driver that helps them to connect with media buyers efficiently and effectively. Its platform is comprised of inventory from over 125,000 media brands.

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