Typically you hear people say they attend conferences for education, networking, and needed credits for their certification. Rarely do you hear them say they attend to become a disruptor. A key observation after my first day at DigitalNow was that a majority of attendees were participating in the event because they were looking for ideas, tactics and insights that can help them disrupt the business norm of their association. Take a look at a great overview of what keynote Rachel Botsman had to share with attendees.

Publishing, revenue, and media sales continue to need disruption as the traditional tactics used to plan and execute media sales strategies fade in their effectiveness.

Here are a few quick ideas on rethinking your “norm” -

  • In a competitive, high stakes environment, it is important to bring new value to the table for your customers every time they meet with your sales team to discuss a current or future media investment.
  • Association publishers and sales teams continue to have a huge advantage. What community does your association represent? Is that community trusted? How can key suppliers solve business and market issues for the community? How does your association bring that matching and relationship together in media and communication? Building trusted relationships with valuable content is part of the reason sponsored content is finding market success.
  • How can disruption be smaller? Look to simplify a complicated process. For example, how does someone buy media from you? Where is there room to make that process less cumbersome, more intuitive?
  • Remove cultural impediments that come with past failures. Often times we hold on to past failures. For example, let’s say you tried to build a media partnership program 3 years ago and it did not gain traction in the market. Go back now and look to see if there are reasons that the environment, people, products are different than they were at that time. It can make sense to go back to existing ideas to see if there is still room for them to become successful.
  • What is success going to look like when you have disrupted the norm and brought a new approach to your publishing and sales? That question needs an answer. You must be realistic when discussing new and disruptive ideas. Creating new publishing models in “can’t fail” environments with unrealistic expectations of revenue is not going to foster future innovation.

If your organization’s approach to media sales could benefit from some disruption, consider attending Association Media & Publishing’s Annual Meeting in June. Content will align around digital, editorial, executive publishing, and advertising. Network’s Shannon Reid and Brittany Shoul will present a session designed to reconstruct how an association can actively deliver (sell!) their value proposition surrounding media and advertising. If you can’t make it to the conference, call us. We would be happy to connect with you about these ideas and more.  Disruption, when done well, results in growth.

Leave a Comment June 2, 2015

Mad Men & Media Sales

I am a huge fan of the TV show Mad Men. It’s been running for 7 seasons and the series finale just aired on May 17th. For me, the combination of finely drawn characters, complex relationships, and a look at the advertising environment of the 1960s was the perfect television cocktail (no pun intended).

One of the pervasive themes of Mad Men is the ability of advertising professionals to sell a product, any product, with just the right positioning. Early in the series run, Don Draper (the lead ad man character) is charged with saving the business of a top client, Lucky Strike tobacco, after some dire research is released on the dangers of smoking. Don realizes that he needs to “change the conversation”- in other words, associate Lucky Strike with something OTHER than a fatal disease. He finally comes up with a new tagline- “Lucky Strike. It’s toasted”. The Lucky Strike execs balk, saying all tobacco is toasted. It’s just part of the process of curing tobacco.

“No”, Don says, “all other tobacco causes cancer. YOURS is toasted”.

Now, we all know that cigarettes are one of the biggest health hazards we face, and I certainly don’t condone marketing tobacco! However, there are some great lessons on sales in this Mad Men plot:

  1. Always focus on the benefit: Don knew that Lucky Strike needed a unique benefit, in order to separate themselves from the doom and gloom surrounding their industry. Toasting was just a regular part of the production process, but in positioning it as a benefit specific to Lucky Strike, he created a new and attractive selling point to build a sales story around.
  2. As a sales professional, before you focus on your product (in the case of media sales, your print publication or e-newsletter, for example), you need to understand your customer. Don knew that smokers would be fearful of continuing with their habit, and he worked to develop a message that would allay their fears by highlighting a new aspect of the product. When selling advertising, it is paramount to ask questions and truly understand a potential advertisers successes, challenges and overall goals before positioning a product.

It always amazes me that there are sales lessons to be had everywhere we look! Network Media Partners will be presenting a session on advertising sales at the upcoming Association Media & Publishing Annual Meeting. We hope you can join us to learn more about advertising sales best practices!

Leave a Comment May 19, 2015

Associations are leveraging sponsored content. Are you ready?

Last week AM&P gathered association professionals for its popular Lunch & Learn series in Washington D.C., where all eyes were on current trends related to sponsored content and native advertising. Network’s very own Carrie Hartin was one of the two co-presenters focused on the larger topic of sponsored content. She walked attendees through some ideas and considerations related to native advertising.

Here is a view into some of the popular conversations that emerged during the session:

  • What does sponsored content mean for your organization relative to your trusted relationship with members and readers?
  • Will sponsored content detract from what your organization is already providing?
  • Will sponsored content compete with or complement what your organization is already selling?

Are you struggling with these questions too? If so, you are not alone and there is some good news- read on!

Here are what a few attendees had to say via Twitter:



There are a number of ways that organizations can integrate sponsored content while still maintaining the trusted relationship with their readers and making it clear if it is sponsored content. By design, native advertising is meant to be less disruptive than traditional display advertising. When associations leverage sponsored content, the goal is for the sponsored content to provide timely, relevant, and valuable information to the audience. This practice aligns with the way businesses are developing content to build and maintain a relationship with a customer or prospect.

Carrie and her co-presenter, Mike Winkleman, President and Chief Creative Officer of Leverage Media will be presenting their popular session again in Chicago on March 31st as part of the AM&P series and there is still time to register.

Interested to learn how your association can build, market, and increase revenue through native advertising? Contact Carrie Hartin at chartin@networkmediapartners.com.

Leave a Comment March 30, 2015

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