Many publishers are being asked by their advertisers to verify the quality of their audience or the strength they have in their market. Others are losing ad space to competitors who may be using advertising research. To stay competitive, they too need research to sell.
Why Survey Research Works
Surveys substantiate your publication’s claims. They offer proof of its strengths by showing exactly who your readers are, what they do, and how important your publication is to them. It is easier for your sales representatives to make appointments with potential advertisers and their agencies because they have something to show and discuss. Callbacks are also made easier because a survey gives your sales team a reason to hold another meeting. Frequently, the people who publications call on for advertising sales purposes are not the final decision makers. These people, who are usually advertising managers or media buyers, need specific data to back up their recommendations. A good survey is one of the best ways to get them to select your publication.
When audiences are studied with reliable research, publishers have a better idea of what they want or don’t want to read. This knowledge allows you to improve your editorial package, which can aid readership and circulation. A stronger publication helps make your ad space more marketable.
What Survey Research Can Show
Using a good publication survey can bring out an enormous amount of information about your readers, your publication, and your market. The right information is invaluable for both ad sales and editorial quality.
Some of the things you can find out include:
• Readership of your publication and duplication with other magazines
• Editorial interests and preferences
• Information about the reader’s business
• Products and services your readers use, either personally or professionally
• Purchasing authority your readers have both at home and work
• Buying intentions and brand preferences for products
• Demographic characteristics of your readers
In-House vs. Outside Research Firm
In some instances, publishers do their research in-house because they believe it to be more affordable. More publishers, however, are turning to professional research firms because they are finding that the price is comparable to conducting the research in-house. The increased effectiveness of professional research more than makes up for any additional cost.
Reasons for the greater effectiveness are:
• Advertisers and ad agencies will more readily believe surveys conducted by a recognized third-party source.
• Professional researchers know how to ask questions that will most effectively bring out the strengths of your publication.
• Research conducted by a professional is more likely to meet the criteria many advertisers and agencies have for acceptance.
• Research firms will usually complete a survey faster. In-house surveys often take longer to complete because the people working on them usually have other duties.
• It is often more cost-effective to use a research firm than hiring extra staff or pulling existing staff from other work.
Finding the Right Research Firm
If you sell advertising nationally, it is best to deal with a nationally recognized research firm because you need to have acceptance of your survey in all parts of the country. Firms that specialize in publication research can usually do a better job because they have the experience necessary for asking the types of questions that can help sell advertising. Also, they know how to ask questions in ways that are most acceptable to the advertisers and ad agencies. It is best to talk to two or three research firms and discuss how they would handle your study and what they will charge.
Use Your Research
A survey will help you most if you use it properly after it is completed. Be sure your salespeople understand the study and know how to use it to sell. Your research firm should be able to help you train them. Take the highlights and strong points of your survey and make promotional pieces using your data. Brochures, fact sheets, flowcharts, and slide shows are all good ways of promoting the important features of your survey. This information will make your ads stronger and more effective. By conducting a good survey and using it right, you should be on your way to a much stronger advertising sales program and an increase in your ad sales.