It seems like a lifetime ago, but I was once the Associate Publisher at Competitor Texas magazine, a 80,000 circulation endurance sports magazine. Most of my clients were either running, cycling, or triathlon events or retailers and had a website but hadn’t started to build up a sizeable presence on social media. Most hadn’t even considered using digital ads to get visitors from related fitness websites to their own site.
It was a great time to be in the media industry, and we were just beginning to see the potential of integrating digital, social, email, event marketing, grassroots campaigns and print all together into one campaign. But we had one BIG challenge: how to effectively explain this new way of thinking to potential advertisers when many of these race directors still had event registrants filling out paper registration forms and mailing them in. They were certainly not embracing new technology or uses of media very quickly and were quite resistant to any change. So how to get through to them and show them how integrated solutions work? That’s where inbound marketing came in.
As part of the strategy to move more advertisers from strictly focusing on print ads, we undertook a three-pronged approach. The first part of our strategy was developing content to send to prospects and current advertisers highlighting successful integrated campaigns. The first piece of content we created was a case study, and the second was a series of articles (a.k.a. blog posts) that discussed different components of an integrated campaign and how they all work together.
The next step was to get the content into the hands of prospects and current advertisers. Considering we had access to remnant ads in the magazine and digital assets, we decided that it made the most sense to use the same assets we were recommending to advertisers. So we created a few digital ads (the same ad sizes we were selling—leaderboards, rectangle ads) that highlighted how race directors were growing their events using digital advertising and linked to a landing page with the case studies and articles. We posted those on our own website in addition to posting on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. We also emailed the content of each of the articles to our list of race directors and mailed them a printed piece as well. Yes, because we knew that these race directors were still relying on printed race entry forms, we figured they checked their mail regularly and our piece would probably stand out.
The final part of the strategy was the sending of personal emails, sent by each sales rep in addition to phone calls to each of the event directors on our list. We would reference the materials that we had mailed them and the emails we had sent and didn’t really push anything on them except for asking them to rethink their way of growing their races using an integrated approach versus just our print ads.
The results of this ‘inbound approach’ to explaining the benefits of our integrated solutions was that a number of current clients began to add display ads and email blasts to their print campaigns and started to see an increase in website traffic and event registrations. The new display ads and email blasts were soon noticed by the competitors of those that started these integrated campaigns and soon most of our advertisers were no longer doing print-only campaigns, switching to complex, integrated campaigns that also involved display ads, email, and events.
Without this inbound approach to educating our prospects and current client base, I don’t think that we would have had nearly as much success with moving these event directors with entrenched ideas to the age of digital and integrated campaigns.
This experience as a media salesperson and the Associate Publisher of Texas’ largest sports magazine helped to make me a life-long evangelist of inbound marketing. If you are in the media industry and haven’t embraced using inbound marketing to better educate your prospects and current client base about the benefits of integrated solutions, what are you waiting for?