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Chris Edwards CONTINUED FROM PAGE 2
listically look at what they are doing and what they want
to be doing in a totally non-selling, neutral environment.
Then we craft a program for them that will work for ex-
tended periods of time which address their challenges,
with check points to make sure we are on track. We
need to take this concept to that next level of client. The
guy who might not be spending six or seven figures on
advertising, but who is valuable to us and will grow.
As well, we need to radically increase our new busi-
ness activity and make sure we are aggressively ap-
proaching those non-customers in new ways, with new
conversations. They aren’t looking for advertising. If
they were, they’d call us like they did a decade ago. They
are looking for HELP, and they are looking for partners
because for these customers hiring that expertise is not
financially possible in most cases. This is where we have
Tell us about what’s happening these days at Fu-
sionfarm. What’s the hot seller in digital agency
business? What’s trending as the next big thing in these
First off, let’s keep it real. Anyone who tells you
that there is a “hot seller” in digital in and of
itself is probably lying to you. This stuff is hard to sell.
There are very popular products and all the data points
to that, but there is no such thing as a “hot seller”. Some
of our best sales people struggle with this stuff. The key
question is, “Are we taking the data points of the explod-
ing use of these services and framing that properly for
customers to make decisions?”. We are getting better at
it, but we have a ways to go.
For the reps that are doing this well, we are finding
that the key offering these days centers on the custom-
er’s website. Reconstructing it is popular. Adding fea-
tures to it is popular. Getting it found in the first place
is crucial (SEO and other directory oriented services are
growing for us). What seems to be coming out of all that
is a new sense of needing a way to manage the visitor
experience to the improved site. That means content
marketing (blog posts, white papers, case studies and
good old fashioned email marketing) and marketing
funnel management (inbound marketing tying every-
thing together in a measurable process) is what we see
as key for helping our clients in the near term.
We’ve added several clients recently, and you do get
paid for these services. The P.S. to all of this is that after
you’ve done this, you discover all sorts of opportunities
to tack on other key services like social and reputation
marketing to the mix because as the site traffic grows,
more people are evangelizing (positively and negatively)
the client out in the marketplace.
Can you also comment on staffing for this com-
pany? Do existing media reps sell the services,
dedicated reps or some combination? And, how do you
attract and keep top sales talent?
We allow all of our advertising reps to sell every
product we have, both “core” (newspaper and
TV) and “digital” (display and marketing services). In
addition, we have a separate “Fusionfarm” sales team
that sells only those services, and primarily to non-me-
dia company customers.
In terms of attracting talent, we have always used
sales aptitude profiling tools. They give a very accu-
rate assessment of a candidate’s ability to do the job.
Generally, we retain a high percentage of our reps, with
an attrition rate of around 10% annually. We pay well
and we have made investments in training, vendor
support and provide a suite of robust products. Having
said all of that, our greatest challenge is finding people
who are well versed or at least comfortable with digital
and emerging services while still possessing classic
attributes of great sales people. Namely, strong inter-
personal skills and a thick skin. The combination of
those attributes in today’s workforce is very low and we
are struggling to find enough quality candidates. We
are currently re-evaluating and refining our recruiting
strategies in our effort to staff up.
Switching gears, you are on the agenda for
what’s become a really hot couple days for rev-
enue producing managers – the Local Media Revenue
Summit co-presented by LMA and The Blinder Group
– and your topic has to do with new revenue develop-
ment and specifically inbound marketing. What is that
The concept of inbound marketing is really the
summation and process for what we discussed
earlier. First, let me give a little background, and this
also relates to whole concept of the dearth of great sales
people out in the workforce in general. Companies are
moving more and more toward electronic transaction
models. Whether that is an inventory based scenario
like Amazon, or a service based model like all of our
deals programs – the sheer number of sales people out
hawking products is at an all-time low. Why? Because
theoretically it’s less expensive, if your product is easily
understood and not (generally) a big ticket item.
However, simply cutting sales people out of the cost
equation doesn’t really work financially if you don’t have
a way to maintain gross revenue (assuming the business
wants to grow). The discipline and process of sales still
needs to exist, even if the thing doing the selling is your
website. It isn’t enough to simply drive traffic to your
site, have people look at your products or services and
assume they will just purchase on the spot through the
site or immediately pick up the phone and call in their
order. They need to be walked through the education
process, given the opportunity to get additional infor-
mation and express when they are ready to purchase.
Inbound marketing is an all encompassing process
for creating multi-touch strategies in order to maximize
the number and QUALITY of leads and/or sales a client
gets through their marketing efforts via their web site.
You will be hearing more and more about this concept
in 2014 if you aren’t already well versed in it.
Can you share some real life examples of how
this strategy is creating new revenue?
There are a few examples I will share during the
presentation at the Revenue Summit. The inter-
esting thing is that our very first inbound client was a 6
month set up and consulting gig with an international
finance company (non-disclosure prevents me from
naming them here, but we’re working on a testimonial
from them). So, if you can demonstrate expertise, you
don’t have to go after small deals. Additionally, our next
two clients were in our backyard, but literally had never
been called on by any core ad reps because they aren’t
brick and mortar. They sell sporting goods online and
are HEAVY e-commerce. We were able to help them
improve their funnel and provide content to help drive
traffic and move visitors through the funnel. The moral
of the story is that inbound customers aren’t necessarily
the most obvious.
Finally, as you look ahead in the sales & market-
ing realm, can you comment on some of the
things you’re incubating or plan to experiment with? Are
there any new initiatives that you’re particularly stoked
about and can share?
We’re always screwing around with something,
though I also think that we have way more things
to sell than we are actually selling to levels I find accept-
able, so we need to focus on that for awhile before we go
Having said that, I think a version of “native advertis-
ing” is intriguing. I have been relatively unimpressed
by what people are calling “native advertising” thus far
simply because it hasn’t been terribly interesting. Fixed
placement “native” spots on a website that customers
can buy into are more next-level banner advertising.
I think we can really leverage an advertiser’s expertise
by either helping them or letting them write content and
get PREMIUM placement in any or all of our products.
We just did our first experiment with this where a com-
bination of two local hospitals paid us to air a 30 minute
live panel meeting on our TV station’s main channel
immediately following our news, moderated by us, to
talk through health care. We then posted that content
online for viewing after the fact. We did promotion on
all products leading up to it – and the advertisers paid
for the whole thing. It was a pain in the neck to work
through with both the advertiser and the newsroom, but
in the end everyone was pleased with it.
Most importantly, our audience thought the content
was valuable and that’s the key to success with anything
you consider “native”. I am curious to see how everyone
evolves their own versions of it.
We have to take a totally
different approach and mindset
with our advertisers that looks
less like “hey, I had an idea for
next month’s insert” to “how are
you going to tap into the con-
versation that’s going to happen
after you run that insert?”. It’s
no small change, but we have
to help them. We can’t just sell
them space or time any more.
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