Selling Print Advertising: Sounds like the Jackson Five hit, ‘It’s easy as 1, 2, 3’

Come hear Peter Wagner, Friday, January 25,

at the 2019 KPA 150th Anniversary Convention –

Three Sessions – All at the Marriott East, in Louisville

Selling print advertising – or anything else – is as simple as 1, 2, 3!

One. Become the client’s “business partner” and not just another salesperson. Create a solid one-on-one relationship with the buyer centered on mutual trust, caring about the client’s needs and delivering valuable promotion and advertising ideas. Make an exceptional effort to understand the client’s business from his side of the desk or counter. Learn all you can about the client’s business and dreams and develop plans that will best benefit him. Have the “courage of your convictions” regarding your publication’s reach, readership credibility and unique benefits. Tell your story.

Two. Study and master a variety of proven sales presentation closes and never make a sales call without making at least one effort to “make the deal.”

Three. Always attempt a close. There are many ways to effectively close a sale. Unfortunately, there are also many inadequately trained and poorly managed salespeople who appear to only know one close – the GIRL SCOUT Close. The Girl Scout’s “Hey, Mister, do you want to buy my cookies” is replicated time and again by well-meaning ad salespeople who begin every call with the same question: “Mr. Advertiser, do you want an ad.”

Some better closing approaches would be the LITTLE DECISION close, The SOUR GRAPES close, the NOW OR NEVER CLOSE, the BY THE WAY close and my all-time favorite, the ASSUMPTIVE CLOSE.

The LITTLE DECISION close is actually a series of questions or small closes that clarify exactly what the customer wants in an advertising program. Each question gives the prospect an opportunity to choose between two variables.

The SOUR GRAPES close is great for occasions when you find unable to negotiate with a prospect who sits in silence not making a decision. That’s your clue to say, “Forgive me, I believe I’ve made a mistake coming here today, I apologize for wasting your time. I don’t think this ad package is the right one for you.”

This sudden change in approach will shock the advertiser into at least thinking about buying.

The BY THE WAY close. It can be used, like the above, when the customer won’t buy, won’t say why and won’t even smile at you. The salesperson thanks the client for his time gathers his papers and heads for the door. Then, just before exiting, he turns to the potential buyer and blurts out “One question before I leave. Just why didn’t you buy that package.”

Caught off guard, the client will often respond with the truth. “I would have,” he might say, “but I’ve already used all my budget for this year.”

“Oh,” the sale rep can respond, “we’re already into November. Didn’t I tell you I can defer the billing until after the first of the year?”

But I like the ASSUMPTIVE close best because the package is presented with the presumption the customer has already decided they’re going to buy. Pretend, for example, your paper has decided to do a “Salute to Men in your Community” tabloid. If that were the case your sale approach might go like this.

“We’re planning a special section next week”. I’d say. “with Life magazine style layouts featuring stories and photo layouts on some of the regions outstanding male leaders. I can’t tell you exactly who, but there will be individuals involved in government, business, education, religion, construction, agriculture, sports and recreation. We believe most men in the four-county area will read it cover-to-cover to compare themselves with those featured.

“What I have in mind for you, with your new men’s store, is a full page in process color. On one side of the page we’ll feature a photo of you in that new designer men’s jeans line you just got in and wearing one of those leather jackets you showed me yesterday.

“On the other side of the page we’ll feature your brother-in-law business partner in a pair of dress slacks and one of those new crew neck sweaters you showed me last week.
“I’m thinking the headline should read ‘Finally the Men’s Store You’ve Always Wanted here in Sheldon.’

“We’ll need to put four or five specials in the center area and of course use that logo we just created to match our sign.

“And I think we need to show the different credit cards you accept, your hours and the fact that you offer quick alterations next to the logo.” The close comes at the end with a simple “Is there anything else I can do for you today?”

Community newspaper are still the best means of reaching the greatest number of families in any market. It is time we all tell our story regarding why we’re where to advertising. We’ve gone too long thinking advertisers will just walk in the door without our first getting in their face.

Peter W. Wagner is founder and publisher of the award winning N’West Iowa REVIEW and 13 additional publications. This free monthly GET REAL newsletter is written exclusively for State and National Press Associations and distributed by them to their members. To get Wagner’s free PAPER DOLLARS email newsletter for publishers, editors and sales managers email him at The two monthly email newsletters contain information completely different than found in Wagner’s monthly Publisher’s Auxiliary column. Wagner can be contacted by emailing or calling his cell at 712-348-3550.

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