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“Did you hear what our competitor is doing?”  This question has caused many publishing company and advertising sales professionals to freeze in their tracks.  What about you?  Does your advertising sales team know what your competitors are doing?  And if a prospect was to ask them, “give me 10 unique reasons why I should buy an ad from you and your company," could they answer this question without a pause?  “Knowing thy competitor” is critical,and this article will outline three easy ways to know more about them,than they know about you! Let’s get started!

Their people:  Begin by “shopping” on the telephone,by mail and in-person,your competitors who offer similar advertising services and products as your company.  When shopping in-person,notice their advertising sales staff and look for the way they dress,the tone in their voice,the organization of their office,the ease they display when presenting their publication,and what questions they ask at the end of your conversation.  By observing closely,you will see and hear the quality of person hired by your competitors and the time they invest in their training programs.  Then ask yourself, “how do these standards,compare to ours?”

Tip From The Coach: Whenever possible,interview everyone who has worked for a competing publication.  You can learn volumes about how each publishing company hires and trains their people and you will be able to identify their unique management style.  Also,ask questions about this person’s previous work experience,as it may give you new ideas for recruiting key people.  And isn’t finding a great team player for your publishing company always a hot topic?

Their product: “Shop” your competitors by telephone and by E-mail at least quarterly,listening closely for any new services or products they offer.  Pay close attention to the quality of their brochures,the appearance of their publications and any special ways they add unique value to buying from their company. Use a consistent “shopping” report so you can easily summarize the unique features and benefits of each competitor.  Now,how does your publication compare to the rest? And more importantly,how does your publication compare to the best?

Tip From The Coach: Every Monday morning,have your sales team spend 15 minutes reviewing the shopping reports done over the previous week.  When your advertising sales team has this type of timely and detailed information,they should be able to easily respond to a prospect who says, “why should I buy an ad from you and not your competitor?"  Have your advertising sales team practice handling this type of standard question,as practice does make perfect!

Their pricing:  Once you know the specific details about your competitor’s people and their publications,your advertising sales team will have much more confidence when they explain why your product is special compared to the rest.  And when you focus on the strengths of your publication,so will your advertising prospects.  Lastly,people buy from people!  A small price difference can easily be overlooked,when your advertising sales team is courteous and professional! Remember,each advertising prospect is looking to find the right product/service,from the right company and feel good about their purchase!

Tip From The Coach: If price is the only issue,work with your advertising sales team to prepare in advance,a checklist of the specific features and benefits unique to your publication,as compared to your competitors.  Have each sales person practice presenting this checklist with confidence and accuracy as this part of their presentation will usually be enough for the prospect to say, “OK,how can we get our advertising started!”

So,follow these three easy steps and see how much easier it is to serve your advertising prospects when you know more about your competitors,than they know about you! If you would like to receive a free report to use when you are shopping your competitors please fax a request on your letterhead to 435-615-8670 and The Coach will fax you a sample report in ten minutes! Want to hear more about this important topic or ask some additional questions? Send an E-mail to [email protected] and The Coach will E-mail you a free invitation to his monthly PowerHour conference calls for publishing and advertising sales professionals.

The Coach

About the Author
Ernest F. Oriente,The Coach, is the founder of PowerHour® a professional business coaching/recruiting service and the author of SmartMatch Alliances. He has spent 46,960 hours [since 1986] delivering customized training,by telephone,in leadership,traditional/Internet marketing and sales for leading publishing companies in the real estate and apartment industry,advertising sales teams,free shopper publications and fast growing sales companies worldwide…E-mail [email protected] or visit their TeleForum websites: and