Effective leadership requires a lot of things: courage, passion, perseverance, confidence, and, often, simple repetition. It takes effective leadership within any organisation to create change, and what I’ve found to be most effective in driving true change efforts has been that simple repetition.
This applies to many areas of the newspaper business but, most notably for me, within the local advertising sales department and the local business community. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Change is hard for people, in any aspect of life. Harder still when you’ve been doing business one way for a number of years — and have had success with it (so why change now?). Same goes for business owners and agencies who are often acknowledging the need to grasp digital marketing, but reluctantly. Most won’t get the message the first few times it’s delivered. Many will feign a half-hearted effort to learn and change, only to rush back to familiar territory at the first sign of challenge.
Even others who are quick to adapt and want to become digital market leaders will need the repetition of the information to have it truly sink in. It’s like anything else in life: You work at it, you practice, you fail, you work at it some more until success is achieved.
Discouragement is easy. Perseverance is hard but necessary for news organisations that want to regain our swagger and emerge from this economic and cultural hardship of the past few years.
The repetition I speak of, specifically, is in regards to digital marketing education — of our sales staffs and our local business owners and agencies. Keep the message strong and consistent, and try a variety of approaches to get through to the more stubborn players. If one approach of digital ad programme is not hitting home with reps or advertisers, dig a little deeper to find the hot buttons that would move the needle (it’s there, trust me).
In Eugene, we have weekly sales meetings wherein the digital programmes have a dedicated portion of the meeting for discussion and training. We take this time to go over updated site traffic numbers and ad programme availability.
Over a series of weeks and months, we’ve found the knowledge of the sales staff surrounding the digital ad offerings has improved greatly — seeped into their brains and, over time, into their sales pitches. Not a one-week blitz effort — far from it. Just as with a quality advertising campaign, consistency is the key. You can’t cram for a week and give the digital marketing effort a solid five-day try and expect to see major results.
To see true change and adoption, the only option is consistent reinforcement and discussion in a way that has the best opportunity to meld with the psyche of those we seek to transform. We won’t trick anyone into buying into the digital revolution — they’ve got to come round to be true believers. Repetition is the key.