At Local Media Association’s recent Digital Revenue Summit, attendees received strategic and tactical advice from senior digital leaders and experts at some of the top companies in the industry. Here are highlights from the three sessions in the Digital Leaders track, which was sponsored by PPI Media.
Reporting as a retention tactic: How to keep your clients through better data and share that data with them
To improve retention with clients through data and reporting, the first thing you should do is start with the end goals in mind. That’s the advice Stephanie Slagle, senior director, brand agency and sales strategy at Graham Media Group, and Reva Henderson, director of client services at King + Columbus, Charleston, South Carolina, gave as a top tip from this session.
In instances where agencies or media companies work with customers who have timely campaigns, brainstorming about the end goal can help them articulate their needs.
“A lot of times clients can’t always see ‘I need to get here by the end of the season, but I’m not sure if I’m going to be pacing properly to get myself there,’” Slagle said. “And we can help put some data towards that.”
If your media company is looking to incorporate more data into the relationship with clients, start with basics such as clicks and clickthroughs, but data points to go deeper include conversion tracking, costs-per-click, and even developing dashboards to share with your clients, Henderson said.
Her company, King + Columbus, develops dashboards for clients, but the team doesn’t expect clients to look at those dashboards all the time. If necessary, she will set up time with her clients to review them together.
“It’s important to be on the level of the client … just give them what they want and give them the ‘CliffsNotes’ from that,” she said. “Sometimes you can become too sophisticated and shoot all these at them, and that’s not why they hired you.”
Another way to approach data gathering on behalf of the client is to see the story the data is telling.
“I’m helping you see the story of what happened, and then more importantly, I’m helping you see how we can take this story and we can make it into something better next month, and better the month after that,” Slagle said.
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Aligning media sales compensation practices with today’s realities
Alexander Group Director Tim Meuschke and Quang Do, principal and media practice lead, shared results of an industrywide survey of sales compensation programs research that indicates aligning the right sales roles and motions to the optimal compensation program is crucial.
Seventy percent of media companies made some sort of compensation change during the pandemic, Do and Meuschke told attendees.
Why should you change your compensation plan? Meuschke said compensation needs to adjust based on what stage a company is in: Start-up, volume growth, re-evaluation, and optimization.
Media companies can be in different stages at different times, so the way to look at compensation should be to understand the nine pillars of revenue growth, where compensation is the very final pillar:
- Revenue segments
- Value propositions
- Revenue motions
- Channel coverage
- Organization and job design
- Sizing and deployment
- Talent, skills and supervision
- Productivity, quotas and metrics
- Compensation and rewards
“The key is, you really need to understand all of those upfront eight pillars before you can actually even start a sales compensation design program,” Meuschke said.
In order to design an effective compensation model, companies need to address the entire program, not just the actual compensation plan. In order to do that, you must keep the goal in mind, the guiding principles of that goal, all of the various components to the plan, and the foundational guidelines.
The most important takeaway, per Meuschke and Do: Guiding principles make the plan effective.
The last piece of advice for setting compensation is to have a philosophy around setting quotas, whether it’s quotas that most sales people don’t achieve, where 50%-60% do, or where everyone does.
Mueschke said the type of culture you have vs. what you want can be two different things, so it’s important to have discussions within the organization around these.
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The state of events
As the industry continues to navigate curveballs from the COVID-19 pandemic, event planners and experts at the Digital Revenue Summit insisted virtual events are viable and thriving at local media organizations.
Panelists Martin Alfaro, director of business development, AL DÍA News Media; Tanisha Leonard, president, RTM360°; and Agnes Varnum, Blue Engine Consulting, said they are optimistic about the profitability of events for local media in many formats — including virtual, hybrid, and in-person.
One of the biggest takeaways from pivoting to virtual events last year is that they could be more profitable than in-person events, because you didn’t have to rent space, negotiate catering, or deal with audio-visual contracts.
Alfaro said AL DÍA News was able to reach more sponsors with a virtual lineup, as the social justice movement from last year also meant more companies wanted to be a part of events like Hispanic Heritage Month.
Registration was another way virtual events were successful, Leonard said. RTM360° found that more people were likely to register for a free virtual event, and that really helped grow the company’s database.
“It’s created some opportunities on the audience development side for us as well … It’s attractive to our sponsors,” she said.
Another opportunity with virtual events is the ability to ask for donations, which may be easier to do in a virtual setting than live, said Agnes Varnum, the former director of events for the Texas Tribune who is now with Blue Engine Consulting.
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