isocket handles many of the procedural pains behind direct ad sales. But one thing isocket doesn’t do is build and maintain relationships with your customers (i.e. advertisers) for you. One of the keys to being successful with direct sales, just like selling any other product, is to build trusting and valuable relationships with customers.
That’s why it’s really important for any publisher who is doing direct ad sales to know how to find and reach out to potential advertisers. You don’t have to be the world’s greatest salesman or even leave your keyboard – but the more proactive you are, the better!
They’re hiding in your community!
You may not realize it, but you probably have a group of potential advertisers you’re already talking to. Think about it… you run a blog about amateur photography. Someone who runs an online store for photography equipment might already read your blog — after all, they like photography. Plus, they already know the value of your site and the types of people who read it.
Look two similar sites — who’s buying their ads?
It’s unlikely you run the world’s most unique website. Find other publishers as similar to you as possible and look at their advertising. Are they doing direct sales? If so, who is buying ads?
Start making a list. Look at multiple sites — if you see the same specific advertisers, or even the same class of advertisers (ex: overnight HTML services) — then that is a pretty strong indicator.
For example, on many design oriented blogs you frequently see ads for Photoshop plugins. The ads at left are running on completely different design blogs. Note that the same advertiser has even advertised on both.
Google is your friend — search marketers count, too.
Google is the largest online advertising company in the world, so it should come as no surprise that they might have a few suggestions of who would potentially want to advertise on your website. If your website is about cowboy boots, then all you need to do is head on over to Google and type in ‘cowboy boots’ and see what ads pop up in the sponsored results next to the actual search results. Gary Vaynerchuk did an awesome video about this method of finding advertisers:
Outline three potential buyer types. Experiment.
Any publisher that is creating content about a specific topic should have a good idea of the types of advertisers who should be buying ads on their website. If you run a website about the most awesome restaurants in New York City, then restaurants in New York City might be interested in buying your ads. Outline a few of these customer types. Then call or email a few! There’s no better way to find out who’s interested than straight up asking them.
Go to real world events.
Who sponsors relevant Meetups? Who has a booth? Not only is it good community building, but you might run into an advertiser or two. Think about an industry conference or trade show… companies spend a lot of money to have big booths and fancy fliers. Why are they doing this? They’re trying to reach a specific audience. If you can help them do that, then let them know!
Reach out and pitch someone!
We promise, it’s not as scary as it sounds. With a few simple emails or phone calls every week or month, you can build a pipeline of business that can generate 10X the money you were making from ad networks! Remember: the more you put in, the more you get out.
Many advertisers are frustrated by the ad buying process. It takes a lot of time and effort to find the right websites and buy the ads. You’re doing the relevant advertisers a favor by letting them know you exist and making it easy (via isocket) to take their order!
Follow up, but not too much
Building a sales relationship can take time – you may need to work with them to convince a partner or wait while they build it into next month’s budget. It’s OK to reach out a second time if you haven’t heard back. General sales etiquette and tips apply here. But obviously, no one likes getting spam. Only reach out to relevant advertisers and don’t call them 40 times.
Reaching out via email
One of the best ways to reach out is via email. Batch a few of them together per week. Maybe 5 – 10. Over time, you can see what your response rate is (maybe 10% reply back) and tweak from there. Here’s an example email for a fictional blog called Startup Events Weekly that covers news and events for the web startup world.
Subject: Reach startup event attendees – advertising options on Startup Events Weekly
Apologies for the cold email. I run one of the largest web event blogs on the west coast. I wanted to reach out about some of our advertising opportunities – I see you have a big tech conference coming up in October and thought you’d like to reach our audience of 40,000 attendees.
Every day our team posts about tech news and upcoming events for the web savvy and entrepreneurial crowd in places like San Francisco, LA, and Seattle. For example, we drove a signup campaign for the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, resulting in over 600 paid signups. Some of our recently popular posts:
- Web 2.0 Expo Preview: What To Look For (20,000 views, 38 comments)
- Arrington Calls Out Gaming Scams at Social Gaming Summit (32,000 views, 112 comments)
- E3 Highlights, Day One (15,400 views, 40 comments)
Because we have such a targeted audience of motivated event attendees, we think it would make a great fit for your event. Here’s some metrics from June 2010:
- 110,000 page views (source: Google Analytics)
- 35,000 unique visitors
- 65% live in SF, LA or Seattle (source: readership survey)
- 45% attend at least one event per month
Buying our ads is super simple!
You can see all our pricing and packages available via our self service site, isocket.com. We have a great month-long sponsorship button for only $500 – that’s an eCPM of less than 25 cents!
You can place your order, track your campaign and metrics, or change your creative in minutes.
I’d be happy to chat with you further about our available ad packages. Otherwise, best of luck!
Some things to point out from the email example above or to keep in mind:
- The subject line should address their need — why do they buy advertising?
- Be sure to introduce yourself and your website. They are starting from scratch and know nothing about you.
- Be genuine – show you’ve done your research about them and that this isn’t some form spam letter.
- Include verifiable traffic numbers. Quickly quoting the source can be helpful.
- Throw out an example ad package and pricing. It can be a quick way to let them know if it’s desirable to them or within their budget.
- Include links to some of your content. Not only does it reinforce the type of audience and content you have, but can also show you’re a legit website and not a link farm.
- Websites used to include a Media Kit or Rate Card PDF with package and pricing info. That’s OK, but the idea here is to make it as easy as possible. Skip the attachments – give them quick info and then link them directly to your isocket account.