Shift Your Focus! Audience-Centric Ad Sales Management


Publisher/surfer Geoff Hird rides the waves of success with an audience-centric focus!

Do you know “the heart and mind share” you have with your niche audience? What the heck is that, you say?

We interviewed Geoff Hird, Publisher of Westwick-Farrow Media, a while back about the publishing trend of shifting from an ad-focused sales strategy to one that’s audience-centric. His sales teams have seen big success since making the change from slogging along in the traditional ad sales way to soaring to new heights with a laser focus on all things audience.

So where do you start? Here’s what Geoff told us:

CRM and education
It really must start with the underbelly of your publishing business. The key lies in building (or buying) a CRM/operational system that allows easy access to subscriber data across each of your brands (magazine/newsletter/website), and across your business as a whole. If you cannot easily extract and sort subscriber data (preferably in real time), then an audience-centric sales model is not really an option. If as a niche publisher you do have this type of access to your audience, the next challenge is putting together some simple one-pager marketing sheets for your sales team and starting the education process with them. Some will get it immediately, some will get it in time, and some will just not get it – and that latter part of your team may well need to be moved on over time.”

Matching subscriber data to advertiser profiles
“Our experience is that advertisers are always keen to meet, or make time on the phone, if you have something ‘of value’ to share with them – and audience demographic data that fits their potential customer profile is a door opener like no other. The key with our business has been matching that sample subscriber data with the advertiser profile based on information on their website, past ads they have run, or events they have exhibited at or sponsored. In many cases now, our sales team is not even discussing ad types or formats, or covering key benefit points about the media brand – they are just talking about the audience and the heart and mind share we have with them.

New subscriber data is also proving popular as a tool to re-engage lost advertisers, and to show new prospects that our media is constantly engaging and drawing new, quality audience members.”

Capturing more data
“It’s also important to capture key profile data in your subs forms without them being too intrusive, and limiting your conversion rates. Our business has chosen not to charge a subs fee, which has allowed us to gather more business-focused data during this process.”

High-quality content
“And whilst the sales focus requires a re-think from publishers, there is no option of shifting to an audience-centric model if you don’t have an audience… and that audience can only be built up over time with quality media channels delivering genuine quality content that meets the business or personal interest needs of the target market. So while the brand or magazine itself becomes less of a focus in the sales process, it is critical that the editorial content being delivered is of high enough quality to attract and retain a committed audience set.”

Geoff is a strong advocate of multiple media platforms and engaging with and influencing targeted audience groups. His sound advice applies just as much to the market today as it did a couple of years ago.

P.S. Need to improve the quality of your audience data? Here’s Katie Carlin from Hubspot on leveraging behavioral intelligence to improve audience engagement



Diana Landau, Niche Content Wrangler

About this blogger: Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Niche Media. A former sales director and corporate marketing hack, she has now found nirvana in writing and wrangling quality content. Diana is a food, wine, art and SF Giants enthusiast…who sometimes gets carried away.


Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments!

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