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Thursday, February 15, 2007

The real value of what we sell

Today, in discussing our business with a new salesperson, I explained that the value in what we sell is much more than it appears at first sight. Although we have a significant (and growing) online presence, almost all of our income is from conventional print advertising. Yes,, I explained to the new sales representative, conventional advertising continues to have a place in the marketplace even though alternative online media have significant competitive advantages.

I also explained the irony of our business model -- we are (as noted previously in this blog) able to sell season's greetings ads in a low-circulation association newsletter for several hundred dollars, each, minimum, while we struggled and ultimately dropped a market test where we offered a construction business leads service at a fraction of the cost of what others are paying for similar services.

So we have a paradox. How can we earn our way and deliver value to advertisers where measures such as "cost per thousand" or "cost per click" are common in the marketing world?
We create real value by helping clients leverage and enhance their business relationships by creating highly useful and truly inexpensive resources and providing extra free services.

For example, companies and organizations can arrange free editorial publicity in many special features and company profiles. The companies profiled in these features do not need to spend any money on advertising; they simply refer their suppliers to us, who purchase supporting ads.

The supporting advertisers generally choose to do business with us because they want to keep their current clients happy -- our challenge is to demonstrate to them that we regard them as our true clients, and will deliver service far beyond some ink on paper.

As an example, a storage tank manufacturer took up our offer for some free publicity after his company advertised in support of one of its clients projects. The sales representative sent me a very lengthy technical article; which we simply could not use. But I didn't throw it out. I called the sales rep back, learned more about the business, and the fact that his product saves between 10 and 30 per cent over the conventional alternative. I drafted a story and sent it for review/approval. Once it has cleared for publication, I'll write about the advertiser in this blog and post a link.

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