WWith so many free or low-cost internet marketing programs out there on the web, are traditional media sales representatives a necessary spoke in the wheel of a business's digital strategy?

All the tools are out there:

     

  • The three-easy-step web template designs.

  • The do-it-yourself search engine marketing (SEM) platforms.

  • The banner ad networks, eager to help plaster your self-portrait banner ads all over the web.

  • The “search engine optimization (SEO) for dummies” books and web sites await your perusal.

  • The e-mail vendors are aplenty in line to provide your business a cheap and easy e-marketing program to blast your loyal customers.
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If I can do it myself on the cheap, should I pay for help with these services? Would a newspaper sales person be the right choice for someone to provide help with these services?

These are the questions that business owners are asking themselves every day in markets of all sizes all around the globe and newspaper sales reps (and managers) need to know why the answer to these questions is a resounding “yes”: local newspaper sales reps have more at stake in the continued success of local business in the digital realm than any company offering these kinds of services.

In this challenging economic climate we're struggling through, small and large business owners are more pressed for time and more desperate for new customers than ever. Just as advertisers have trusted and relied on us for years to show them the best way to utilize print ad space, color and design, they're in need of a trusted advisor and consultant to help them pave their way in the Digital Age.

Relationship selling has a new meaning in the Digital Age and holds new responsibilities and higher expectations from our newspaper sales reps.

Yet the same principles apply, and no amount of technology replaces sincere inquisitive sales consultants that provide a high-touch customer service approach by utilizing all available resources from their media company — which in many cases means eliciting the assistance of dedicated collaborative digital sales reps or digital department. There's no shame in bringing in an additional sales resource or assets to ensure that an advertiser gets the best possible information, advice and service in their digital needs.

At Stephens Media, we've adopted the integrated ad sales approach and support a highly collaborative sales strategy. In Las Vegas, our largest newspaper, The Review-Journal, has four collaborative dedicated online sales reps who work with geographically assigned traditional (yet increasingly multimedia) retail account reps as well as niche, major, national and classified account reps. Additionally, we've hired a new business development rep to call on non-active accounts to ensure we're saturating the market with our digital service offerings. All proposals and advertising discussions have digital components to them and as these components increase in size and scope our roles as educators in the digital realm grow and the need for all of our sales reps to be well versed in digital grows along with it.

As the most locally connected sales consultants in our markets, we're in a position to provide a service of education and assistance for our advertisers that help prove our worth and importance now and in the future. The integrated ad sales approach allows us to provide the best service to our advertisers while utilizing the best advantages we have: our relationships with local advertisers and their trust in our advice.