What advertising sales teams can learn from Samsung


I have been fascinated by the recent introduction of the Samsung Galaxy S® III and believe it holds some inspirations for local newsmedia advertising sales.  

Three lessons bubble to the top: 

  • Reposition the competitor.

  • Assert product advantages in new ways.

  • Be bold.

Apple had clearly staked out the innovation niche with its products, from iPhones to iPods to iPads. Consumers flaunt their own alignment with Apple’s advanced technology and personal cool by flashing their iPhones under the noses of their Android friends.

The recent court cases in which Samsung was accused (and in some cases convicted) of infringing on Apple patents only confirmed Apple had the technology edge.

Despite this, Samsung introduces the Samsung Galaxy S® III as the most advanced phone with features not available on the iPhone. The demonstration of Samsung Galaxy S® III’s capability in front of iPhone users waiting for the iPhone 5 in a recent commercial took real chutzpah (The Next Big thing is already here).

I do not know if the touch transfer of video is relevant to most consumers, but the reaction of Apple users to the technology is well-played, topped only by the clearly uncool parents reclaiming the spot their Samsung-carrying son held for them in the Apple line.

This was a brilliant execution of repositioning the competitor. 

With this in mind, take a look at your own media sales tools. How do you address local advertising? Spending in competitive media? If the language and pictures have not changed in the last five years, you can probably do better.  

The ease of sharing videos on the Samsung Galaxy S®III smartphone was demonstrated in another commercial where “Dad” is getting into a taxi, and his two daughters want him to take a special video they made for him to view on his flight (Work Trip).

The video is shared with “Dad” with a quick tap on his Galaxy S®III … cute, endearing, and a great product benefit demonstration. 

But, the real punchline comes when the wife tells him that she, too, made a video. As she transfers it to his Galaxy S®III, she suggests that he not watch it on the plane. Cue knowing smiles on both parents as the commercial ends.

The classic “Dad going on the business trip leaving his family” was not only updated but also made cool. In addition, we saw two demonstrations of the product benefit.

Look at your media sales materials. How can the benefits of local newsmedia advertising be better communicated and demonstrated in new, fresh, and memorable ways? Are you using pictures, not just words? Are you using videos to tell your story?

The third lesson is to be bold. Local newsmedia is often seen as just playing defense. As Samsung clearly shows, you do not need to be the leader to act boldly. For many advertising categories, using local newsmedia still works and works well.

How do we tell this story?

The changes in advertising sales noted above are as much about how we “market” to business decision makers as how we sell to them. True B-to-B marketing budgets have been axed, with more reliance placed on the sales contact and relationship.

If we are to make local media attractive again, it will take more.

We need to make it easier on the local advertising advocates within the advertiser’s own firm to defend the investment in local print and digital. We need to communicate with younger media buyers about why local newsmedia is right for their clients in both emotive and data-driven ways.

There are, of course, implications for marketing to consumers for print and/or digital subscriptions, as well as content and product development — but I leave that for another conversation.

As noted in the introduction, I do not know if Samsung will ever truly beat Apple in the innovation space; but the company clearly aimed its fire directly and gave many people a reason to stop their automatic response to get in the Apple line.

Take that same challenge in advertising  for local newsmedia.

Here are some possibilities:

  • Reposition Twitter and social media alone as ineffective in attracting new customers and in some cases training consumers to wait for a deal.

  • Redefine reaching the younger demo alone as unsuccessful for the products and services sold by the advertiser—supermarkets, financial services, more expensive cars all do better with families or more upscale audiences.

  • Reposition multi-tasking as inherently negative when it comes to complex ad messages — financial services, big-ticket items, and health care.

  • Reposition “trackable” as prompting consumers to search for ways to protect their privacy compared to presenting an offer or coupon.

  • Redefine small screens and wireless connections as aggravating, slow, and unreliable ways to deliver photo- and graphic-rich messages

  • Freshen up the photos of the audiences using the newspaper and its Web site. Do they look attractive, alive, and fresh? 

  • Share case studies and new offerings in innovative ways—distribute video and tweet successes.

Change the conversation … Samsung did.

If you do, I’d love to hear about it, so contact me with your successes or lessons learned.

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