Find Your Audience-Centric Ad Sales Mojo


Publisher Geoff Hird helps us find our audience-centric mojo.

We recently had the chance to interview Geoff Hird, Publisher of Westwick-Farrow Media. Geoff is a strong advocate of multiple media platforms and engaging with and influencing targeted audience groups. (He is also passionate about magazine media, surfing and his family – but not necessarily in that order.)

We asked him to share some key strategies with us on how to make that change from slogging along in the traditional ad sales way to soaring to new heights with a focus on audience.

Niche Media HQ:  Can you share with us some real life tips for niche publishers for shifting from ads and brands to being audience-centric?

Geoff: 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 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.

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 are 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.

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.

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.

Niche Media HQ: What advice can you give ad salespeople on how they can leverage their audience’s data to connect better?

GH: As mentioned above, audience data is a powerful door opener. Sales people need to talk, and sell, less, and work on some basic scripts/questions around the audience data they have access to. We recently ran a campaign with an eDM subject line that read ‘Your next new customer just joined us – want to meet them?’. The sales team then used this statement and proposition, along with a specific ‘sample new subscribers’ one pager, to get past clients re-engaged and to get new prospects interested. The conversion rate was higher than any other advertiser promotion we had run in 33 years.

Ad sales people need to make a quantum shift in the way they sell if they are to get cut-through in the cluttered, competitive marketing dollar landscape. Most advertisers don’t want to hear about why your brand is better than another media channel, or about your editorial calendar, or how experienced your writers or editors are – and yet these are the premises on which most ad space is still being sold.

Niche Bonus Question:  What’s your favorite Southern dish?

GH: That’s a tough one, because Southern could mean something very different for me as an Aussie – for example it could mean Tasmanian, and if that were the case it would be lightly grilled salmon, freshly shucked oysters and a crisp, chilled Sauvignon Blanc. But I am guessing you mean Southern as in the USA version, so in that case I would have to say Cajun blackened fish, probably baked, and would go again with the oysters and maybe some chili shrimp (prawns to us!), accompanied again by that chilled Sauvignon Blanc.

Editor’s Note: Geoff will be a speaker at our upcoming Niche Media Conference in February in Charleston. Here is a link to his session, Audience-Centric Ad Sales Mojo.


Diana Landau, Niche Content WranglerAbout this blogger: Diana Landau is the Content Wrangler for Niche Media. A former 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.



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