It’s time for the “I’d be mad not to buy it” sales approach

By Mark Challinor


London, United Kingdom


Greetings as usual from London, England.

In this latest INMA Advertising Initiative newsletter, I want to talk about the environment we are presently working in globally.

A downturn, rising costs, inflationary pressures, uncertainty, purse strings being restricted — a tricky time for all. It affects our agencies and advertisers. It affects us.

What can we do about it? What approach should we adopt? And what things should we be concentrating on to get the most out of our advertiser relationships?

Rest assured, we can win — even in these tricky times. I will discuss the need to create a concept of “I’d be mad not to buy it.”

In parallel to the above, I will give you some initial details on our forthcoming master class on sales teams. You won’t want to miss that.

And, some sobering figures on global ad revenue in new media and how we stack up against Amazon. The facts will shock you.

But first …

Economic downturn

Our advertisers are looking at new paths. Are we helping them on those paths?

With external factors around us we can’t control — inflation and an economic recession — we are seeing issues in our industry (be it readers cutting back on household spend, advertisers scrapping or reducing ad campaigns, etc). Consequently, the second half of 2022 may well be difficult for many media companies. Difficult that is, if we don’t prepare for it. Now!

Media companies and their advertisers will have to navigate whichever direction the economy goes.
Media companies and their advertisers will have to navigate whichever direction the economy goes.

On the advertising front, it seems that our sales people are being tasked to achieve more with less (e.g. dealing with shrinking budgets, lower staffing levels), with those teams under huge pressure to deliver results in a world full of influencing factors outside their jurisdiction.

Adapting to a changing world

However, adapting to a changing world has become a part of the advertiser’s and sales person’s raison d’être. There have been many ups and downs over the years.

Our sales teams, for example, have had to adapt to survive a global pandemic. They survived by getting rid of old work systems and processes, as well as the short-term tactics that didn’t support a longer-term growth for their clients. All this by taking onboard, flexible, real-time sales strategy thinking that they could indeed control.

And in that process, sales teams saw they had more ability and “gumption” to rise above adversity than they thought they had. As an industry, time and time again, we have shown we are resilient (multi-channel selling, print to digital, social media influences, etc.)

And as the media industry works harder to deliver highly impactful sales results, getting through the next phase of adaptation as economic conditions fluctuate will take a certain determination and drive towards efficiency.

This should be the overarching focus within our sales teams for internal (short-term at least), future growth — growth in knowledge, empathy with advertisers, team building, and, ultimately, sales results. 

Start relying on first-party data

Advertisers will continue looking for the next big change within the advertising industry, where they must focus on the right strategies for the environment or market. Start exploiting first-party data that allows those advertisers (with the help and guidance of our sales teams) to have a more complete view of the steps needed the options available.

First-party data is the best option for media companies and advertisers.
First-party data is the best option for media companies and advertisers.

Our sales teams can’t control the market. But they can reassess, refocus, and provide expert advice and insights to help the advertiser thrive during these uncertain times.

By firstly refocusing on taking the next/first best action for the advertiser, the ad industry will, in turn, refocus itself to come out even stronger and more educated on the other side. 

Focusing on the right people

Now, more than ever, is the time to stay focused on generating the best opportunities for increased revenue, as suggested sales campaigns simply based on high-volume and consequently, possibly low-quality leads won’t deliver the results advertisers expect.

Advertisers (be it via agencies or direct) can’t afford to wait too long to be “back in the game” to thrive and generate real, impactful results. If the buyers of their products and services are in the market ready to buy — maybe due to a pent-up demand, post pandemic, and the sales team isn’t acting swiftly — they’ll just go to your competitors. Be ready. Be proactive. Be insightful for them.

“I’d be mad not to buy it

This last point reminds me of something from my past, when I used to work for the UK national media giant The Daily Mail. I was responsible for the major promotional marketing campaigns targeting higher causal, newspaper sales. The majority of our sales came, in those days, from “on the day, over the counter” purchases. Amongst other channels, we used the front page to highlight that day’s promotion.

On my first day in the office, my managing director called me into his office. He didn’t ask me to sit me down as he said he just wanted to convey a simple, short message. That message was:

“Every day, Mrs. Smith of Oxford walks into her local newsagent or supermarket. She looks at the array of newspapers on offer all lined up in a row and makes her choice. She is somewhat influenced by the front page of the day. What I want you to do, Mark, is create me a newspaper front page each day with an offer/deal/competition/promotion that when Mrs. Smith sees it, she thinks to herself “I’d be mad not to buy it”. That’s it. Enjoy your career with us.”

I have never forgetten that.

Create something where the buyer thinks “I’d be mad not to buy it.” Isn’t that what we should do today with our advertisers? Create a campaign suggestion, an advertising proposal, a series of insights, a new idea … where the advertisers thinks, “I’d be mad not to buy it”?

Media companies need to make advertisers an offer they can't refuse.
Media companies need to make advertisers an offer they can't refuse.

Our mantra in 2022 as it was for me back in 2002?

As our advertisers start to re-think their own buying audiences — either by amending their target customer profiles or reconsidering their advertising channels and/or target customer lists — we’ll need to refocus away from the things that don’t consider the times we live in.

Maybe we have have had cuts in budgets to work with and, yet, there’s an expectation to keep delivering high-value campaigns. Yes, we need to be more creative, give more “bang for the buck.” But keep close to your clients. Understand what they are trying to achieve fully. Be their “go to” industry person for advice through the choppy waters we all face.

And along with more creative ideas, knowledge, and understanding, we need to get advertisers used to embracing the crucial metrics to aid their decisions. Metrics such as targeting based on engagement and intent whilst tracking customised campaigns and the buying signals with prospective customers based on their communications, interactions, Web searches … and even the customer enticements from competitors.  

Further reading

Date for the diary: October 13-27, INMA advertising master class

Would you like further thoughts/insights on sales teams? Mark your diary now. The INMA master class on sales teams will take place in October.

We will cover areas such as:

  • Sales structures: What does a future team look like? How much automation? Consultative selling? Should we become an in-house agency (the future role of agencies vs in-house)? Is going direct to advertisers always optimal? How does WFH affect team functioning? How do we compensate sales teams? How should sales teams prioritise which formats/platforms to sell?
  • What to sell? Owned media vs bought, who is best positioned to sell these (should we focus on just what we know/own)? Social media advertising (how do we feel about this?). Should responsibility for commerce come under sales teams?
  • Sales tools: Use of data/audience segmentation (including first-party data and the cookieless future, as well as the implications for sales teams). Measurement. KPIs for advertisers and in-house alike.

More details coming soon, however you can register now here.

Sobering numbers

Finally for this week, a snippet that is quite sobering and shows we have much work to do.

New York e-learning experts Section4 have brought us some interesting statistics, which can be summarised thus:

  • Newspaper advertising was once a US$100 billion business. 
  • That haul started declining after the advent of the Internet, and by 2021, global revenue came in at just US$30 billion.
  • By comparison, Amazon made US$31 billion in ad revenue in the same year.

Or in other words — and here is the sobering bit: Amazon generated more ad revenue in 2021 than the entire newspaper industry did globally.

Makes you think?

Further reading

About this newsletter 

Today’s newsletter is written by Mark Challinor, based in London and lead for the INMA Advertising Initiative. Mark will share research, case studies, and thought leadership on the topic of global news media advertising. Sign up for the newsletter here.

This newsletter is a public face of the Advertising Initiative by INMA, outlined here.

E-mail Mark at with thoughts, suggestions, and questions or follow him on Twitter (@challinor).

About Mark Challinor

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