Many newsmedia companies now have their consumer revenue/subscription services set up or at least are in the process of doing it. So, what’s the next focus for the business?

Attention now shifts to the monetisation of our advertising assets.

We need to start ramping up our inventory sales process for selling mobile advertising, which can come in a number of forms, be it sponsorship, ad serving, or ad placement.

This firstly requires buy in. From the top down, we need acceptance and “gospel preaching” of such (internally and externally) that this is the route you are heading… and then resource the area accordingly.

So what is needed? I offer four areas for concentration:

1. Education (again, internally and externally)

  • There is a general need for fuller education internally of industry sales staff on how to sell mobile. For example: What’s a good app/bad app? What mobile services are at our disposal? How do the various platforms/devices differ? What are the benefits/disadvantages of each? What measurement techniques will we use? How will we price it? And let’s not forget being immersed into examining what our competitors are doing, what they’re claiming regarding audiences et cetera.

  • Look at running off-site training seminars, group/team sessions where everyone can contribute and buy into the objectives. 

  • Develop a mobile rate card. It helps all focus on what you have to offer and what the guide price should be. 

  • Ensure your sales staff have the right development/training to offer first class client servicing in the mobile space. (This could utilise the internal expertise if need be of your experienced mobile personnel). This is more of an ongoing need to ensure we are all ahead of the game and are onside with all the latest developments. (The pace of change is huge. You only have to look at what’s happened in the last month alone: we’ve seen Kindle Fire launch, Apple iOS5, iPhone 4S, GooglePlus, Facebook Timeline, Google Music, and Nokia/Windows Lumia 800). We need to make sure our sales staff is armed with all the statistics and information to talk competently in the marketplace. For example, would your staff know what augmented reality is? Do they understand QR codes? What is HTML5? 

  • Externally, there is a need for education of our advertisers/agencies on mobile marketing. There is a fear factor out there of not understanding the technology, so they sometimes shy away from the space. Whereas, we should be “selling” ideas not technology. Our job is to worry about the technology not our clients. And normally, if a brainstorming meeting comes up with a good marketing idea, the technology will fit the idea. It doesn’t have to be the other way round. 

  • So, educate with seminars, client visits (possibly as part of the normal sales pitch?) — offer a unique, two-way, bespoke service based on our clients’ needs (your USP?). Be seen to be the leader in the mobile environment. Ultimately, make sure a realistic mobile service is an integral part of all ad/multi-media package offerings.

  • Develop a clear advertiser/mobile/integrated sales process to include ongoing ideas generation, business case adoption, but importantly managing client expectations. We do this via client education.

  • Incorporate the development of mobile services/rate card into all sales packs.

  • Managing relationships with appointed external mobile agencies for app, service development, and integrating them into our business. Use their expertise for our own benefit.

2. Mobile/ad showcase

  • Think about building a “Mobile/Ad Lab.” In essence, the development of a showcase, an interactive facility to bring in and show advertisers our capabilities and our future thinking. (A place to show off!?). The New York Times has an excellent ad lab facility which I had the honour of visiting recently. After the visit, you felt that if you were an advertiser, you would come away having seen the “future of newspapers” and be convinced you were partnering with a forward looking media company.

3. Strategy: listen

  • New product and feature development is key. So have a plan. Have a roadmap of what you can achieve and what you can’t. The mantra should be to do a selected number of things well, rather than scatter gun across our business and end up doing a bad job of many projects.

  • As part of this process, listen! Listen to what advertisers (and readers) are saying they like and don’t like about our mobile products and services. What ongoing ad requirements and reporting analysis do they require? Are we listening and actioning? Locate and progress additional sponsorship/ad opportunities for future mobile inventories and consider owned assets such as e-mail/SMS databases and other offerings which may have mobile elements. 

  • How can you fit and monetise these into your strategy?

4. Public relations

  • Be the communications resource for what’s happening around the mobile business and industry. Make advertisers think that to understand the space, they need to speak to you first.

  • Be the (proactive) spokesperson within influential external organisations (e.g. Mobile Marketing Association, INMA and others). 

  • Be seen as industry leader in the space. Remember the old adage, to be seen as a leader, you need to act like one.