10 Good Responses to Requests for Merchandising

By Hogue, William P. | Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management, November 1986 | Go to article overview
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10 Good Responses to Requests for Merchandising

Hogue, William P., Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management

10 good responses to requests for merchandising

Not that long ago, most of the tools you use to sell advertising did not exist. In times past, if you mentioned Simmons to someone, he would think you were talking about a mattress company. If you went on about your MRI figures, someone might think you were feeling nostalgic for the days of the New Deal. Back then, a "prism" was still something you learned about in basic physics, and "Val" was a date, a wife or a sister.

And just as the stuff of number crunching did not exist a few years ago, neither did the highly sophisticated expectations of clients and agencies as regards promotion merchandising. Sure, today as then people still ove to get T-shirts with logos and coffee mugs and pens with clocks in them. But when they sit down to discuss how your magazine fits into their marketing plan beyond the running of advertising space, they ain't talkin' T-shirts.

To a growing number of clients and agencies, promotion merchandising is no longer considered a generously tendered symbol of appreciation.

It's the main course

Today, promotion merchandising has become part of the buy. In fact, for more and more marketers, promotion merchandising is becoming the reason to buy.

And it's you, the salesperson, who usually hears the request first. It often runs something like this:

"Listen, I have some great news. Your magazine is one of 25 that we've chosen to submit merchandising ideas for next year. As you know, the client feels strongly about merchandising. So, the magazines with the best programs will probably get most of the business."

In other words, you're not only competing product to product, magazine to magazine, you're also competing merchandising to merchandising. And although most of what you're asked to do falls within the realm of "marketing," sometimes it begins to look like another version of "Can you top this?"

After all, if competitive Magazine A agrees to give a washer and a dryer as a prize at a client sales meeting, you can hardly get away with offering a washboard and a clothesline.

However, you should try to convince the client and/or agency to consider alternative merchandising ideas that better reflect your magazine's area of expertise--ideas that in the end will more directly support their marketing plan. Put to the test, you may have to deliver the washer and dryer; but by presenting intelligent alternatives, you will demonstrate a level of concern and sophistication that will eventually earn you the respect of client and agency alike.

Remember, every successful magazine, including yours, has a distinct personality. That's why they are successful. But it takes little personaity or imagination to put a logo on a T-shirt or to devise a per-page/percentage-of-gross merchandising rebate system. It does take both personality and imagination to come up with a good idea, particularly one that only your magazine can deliver.

Follow the rules

So, how can you, a person ostensibly hired to sell space, keep your accounts out of the rebate business and in the idea business? Start by following these "Ten rules of promotion merchandising for magazine salespeople." They'll help you move customers in a direction that makes good marketing sense, a direction that, in the end, will score points for you and your magazine.

1. Always answer a question with a question. When someone says, "Can we see some merchandising ideas?" let 'em have it. "Is this a new product? A line extension? An image overhaul?

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