The digital experimentation permeating newspaper operations is both reassuring and scary. The one constant we keep hearing from vendors and other newspaper groups is that no one is doing everything right, so everyone continues to experiment and try to find the next big revenue driver.
The key thing to remember here — and to constantly remind sales reps who are treading into these new digital waters with caution — is that the only way to get to the next level is to jump in with both feet.
Many of our sales reps want to wait until these new models and programmes show undeniable proof of success before they have full faith and pitch the new programmes with vigor. That cautious approach to embracing new ventures is what has contributed to the newspaper industry lagging so far behind the myriad of Web service businesses that are ever-expanding into our local marketplaces.
Here at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, of course, we’re launching new products and services all the time in the digital realm. While we’ve had some growing pains with respect to the processes of fulfillment for some of these services (e.g. search, Web site design, mobile) we’ve been pushing our reps to not bog themselves down with concern over all the ins and outs of how the end product will be finished, but rather to have faith in our support staff and vendors.
We remind them that they’ve never needed to know exactly how the printing presses work in order to sell print display ads, so not fully understanding the Web coding required to efficiently establish quality SEO or SEM work should not stop them from selling its value.
In many cases, the best way to accomplish a perfect working system for a new service or project is to get real world examples and learn by doing. While no one wants to be the guinea pig in a new project, we reinforce that those early adopters receive the added benefit of serving as our shining early examples. Thus we go the extra mile to ensure that they’re done well.
It’s a scary digital world out there in many respects, but we won’t get anywhere by cowering behind our desks selling what is comfortable.
Remember: if we don’t secure the relationships with these new digital services, someone else will. They will become the advertisers’ digital resource and likely control the direction of that digital budget. And as that grows in coming years, the entity that controls (or influences) that digital marketing spend will be the one that is expanding and adapting to the latest and greatest new big revenue drivers.