In this ever-changing, fast-paced industry, it was becoming more evident we needed to transform the operating rhythm of our sales teams through collaboration and empowerment.
Traditionally, we had teams focused on print publications and teams focused on digital acquisition. Long-term, this model wouldn’t be sustainable, so I had to find a way to merge the print and digital worlds together.
Enter our custom publishing team, a small sales department dedicated to selling print-only advertisements into publications on behalf of a third party we partner with (for example Master Builders New South Wales).
For nearly 10 years, this department has focused purely on print revenue from print publications, but it was time to start exploring other options. How could we generate digital revenue and results for our print-only clients while still delivering on contractual print obligations with our third-party partners? We set a goal to transform custom publishing into a digital acquisition power source while maintaining our current print revenue.
Four steps to change
Four key strategic points had to be addressed and perfected for us to achieve our digital goal:
- Third-party contracts/agreements: It was essential for us to seek permission from our partners on what products we could pitch to their members. Essentially we wanted the opportunity to pitch and sell not only the regular print publications but our digital assets also, which were unrelated to our partners.
- Staff capability and empowerment: Our sales team had to learn a new suite of digital products and sales approaches. The key to this success was to build our team to be multi-skilled and fast on their feet while feeling completely empowered to make decisions and build successful digital campaigns for their clients. The results speak for themselves, with the team now completely confident selling across multiple platforms and achieving massive growth year on year in both print and digital.
- System/policy changes to streamline bundle sales process: Hard bundling an on-net digital offering was the simplest way to introduce print clients to news digital assets. A fair bit of work and consideration went into streamlining the booking process, which involved collaboration with operation and enablement teams, commercial tech and services team, business services group, and continual improvement teams.
- Digital product offerings to match print products: If we were going to hard-bundle digital offerings into packages for custom publishing clients, we had to ensure we had the right digital audience segments to match the clients needs. For example, if the client was an award-winning builder in construction who would typically purchase a print advertisement in a Winners in Construction publication, we had to ensure we had a suitable digital audience to suit such an advertiser. That would mean digital audience segments like people looking to build, renovate, purchase land, or new home buyers. Such audience segments ensure we only target the digital campaigns to the perfect audience for the customer and inventory isn’t wasted. Our reporting also shows it delivers real results for our clients, solidifying their trust in our teams and business.
A boost in sales
In FY22, the custom publishing team sold only A$56K in digital. Since the transformation of custom publishing, we have a 1,300% increase, achieving A$825K in digital sales in 10 months. If we track how we have been trending, we will have A$1.08 million generated in extra digital sales in 12 months!
Not only did we have this enormous growth year on year in digital, but we also maintained our print revenue; in fact, we even had a small growth in print. I can only attribute this to the collaboration and increased confidence and empowerment our team has.