By Howard Rauch
President of Editorial Solutions Inc.
When publishing ethics issues are debated, it’s usually popular to trash the practice of editors and salespeople making joint calls on advertisers. True, mishandling of the call can be — to put it mildly – a distressing experience for editors. On the other hand, we have an important marketing role to play for our publication, and a well-planned joint session is a good way to do it.
If the salesperson pulls the strings and the editor is lucky enough to get in a few words, that is indeed a bummer . . . a pure sales call. However, if the editor has the floor most of the time, then we have a productive editorial call in play.
Even better is when the editor visits top brass at advertiser headquarters on his or her own for interviews and/or to exchange views on industry trends. Of course, you’ll accomplish very little if you haven’t kept up with the industry. It would be a tragic error to attempt to bluff your way through the meeting.
Another super customer contact opportunity occurs when the editor is a featured speaker at an advertiser’s national sales meeting. Obtaining such engagements and executing them well is a great way to demonstrate industry leadership. But you need original research available on which you can base a trendy program.
On a similar note, the most productive example of a joint call is where the editor delivers an A-V presentation to customer top brass (or ad agency personnel) in tandem with the magazine’s publisher or sales representative.
Considering the typical heavy workload confronting most editors, it’s not clear how you can fulfill your “show business” role. But for what it is worth, you must be on stage as often as possible. Among other things, of course, this means that you need stage presence.
While I’ve devoted most of this post to the positive side of joint calls, let’s not ignore the negatives. For instance, you have to fight like the dickens not to be roped into a call where the end goal is trading off editorial for advertising (ugh!!!).
One final thought: many times the salesperson’s main client contact is the sales manager, ad manager or ad agency. There’s nothing wrong with your knowing these people. But your major ongoing contacts should go beyond that level. Trade shows are a great place to get acquainted with a company’s major players.
Editorial Solutions Inc. is a consultancy focusing on B2B magazines. Rauch is the 2002 recipient of ASBPE’s Lifetime Achievement Award. You can contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.