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Thursday, January 18, 2007

When the advertising feature works

About 13 years ago, we discovered from the late Walt Hailey in Texas the principal of "Naturally Existing Economic Relations" (NEER). Hailey's concept is elegantly simple -- when you want to sell something to a key potential client, don't go to the prospective client; go to that client's customers and secure referrals from them.

In business, these client-based referrals are truly high value connections. After all, if you receive a call from someone sending you money every month, asking you to meet or communicate with someone else, would you at least listen to that request; and respond with courtesy.

We took this concept, along with the principal that editorial publicity works far better than conventional advertising, and developed our model of special feature reports. These types of reports are not a new thing in the printed publishing sector, but in our approach we made them the primary method of business.

For many years, the concept worked very well -- we sold thousands of dollars of advertising, and received plenty of repeat business, including companies who would be profiled one year, and then come back again.

But this success ignored an important additional element that we only recently took to heart. Sure, when a company purchases a "proud to support" ad in the feature for another business, they are doing it to keep their current customer happy. But they are also becoming OUR customer. And we need to treat our clients with more respect than an invoice!

Today, I put the new principals to work when we received word from a company that had profiled us of their satisfaction with the feature, and with a request that we provide a copy of the feature for their website.

First, we ensured that the version posted would include all the ads, giving the advertisers additional, free, exposure.

Then, we told our advertisers about this -- copying the email from the featured client.

Third, in that email, we reiterated our commitment to our advertisers, and offered them additional free services and support.

All of this took only a few minutes, but judging from the return emails, it has been a successful initiative.

Communicating with clients doesn't take much effort, thanking them for their business can take only a few minutes. But the results go far beyond the obvious. Here, we communicated clearly to our clients that their ads truly 'worked' -- the company profiled and the company they want to be identified with -- likes the work enough that their ads are going to be displayed on the key website.

Mark Buckshon can be reached at or by phoning 888-432-3555 ext 224.

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