Monday, April 9, 2012

Managing the Shift: From Sales to Brand Rep, Conference Session

For the first time in 2010, Kim Peacock says (quoting recent stats), the internet outpaced magazines in ad sales. 

Instead of focusing on this as a negative, Peacock says it's a huge opportunity, especially when you consider the good news. Quoting more research, Peacock says people continue to trust traditional media more than celeb rags or even bloggers. 

In Peacock’s session "Managing the Shift: From Sales to Brand Rep" at the 2012 Alberta Magazines Conference, she spoke about managing the shift away from sales towards offering clients a brand.

It starts by defining your brand, she says.  Here are a few things to consider: 
  1. A brand is emotional and psychological.
  2. It's a relationship with customers.
  3. It's not logical like a product.

To implement your brand, you really need to know what business you're in, Peacock says. She references the New York Times as a great example of how one publication turned around its own online strategy. She suggests that magazines aren't necessarily in the magazine business, but rather the content business.

In order to define what business they’re in, Peacock says organizations of all sizes should craft a mission statement in order to: give purpose; guide the actions of the organization; and provide a framework or context.

You can also take a look at four key components of your business or publication by using the SWOT acronym.  
  • Strengths: internal capabilities
  • Weaknesses: anything that prohibits your business 
  • Opportunities: any trends, events or ideas affecting your business
  • Threats: any forces outside your control 

Following this, publications or publishers can develop a strategy and a competitive advantage. It's possible to base your strategy on three different viewpoints: 
  1. Low-Cost Leadership: be the person who sells for the best price. Peacock says this is usually reserved for large conglomerates like Walmart, when a business is selling the same products as everyone else at a high volume. It's not the best strategy for a magazine. 
  2. Differentiation: create a compelling brand, give people a reason to choose you
  3. Customer Relationships: provide ongoing benefits 

One important final point Peacock makes is that publications should "allow as many opportunities to interact with (their) brand as possible.”

--- Heather Setka

Heather Setka is a writer, editor, journalist and blogger. She's written for Swerve, LINK, and other Alberta-based magazines. Her blog about the perils we experience around money can be read at