| Jan 22, 2018 | | 17 min read

How to add digital to your traditional media sales

Over the last 20 years, the digital age has brought a major shift in how people consume media. YouTube personalities have replaced the TGIF programming of the TV world. Blogs and independent journalists compete toe to toe with traditional news outlets, and podcasts now vie for our ears where FM radio once dominated.

Traditional media is certainly still alive, but the slice of the revenue pie is getting smaller, and competition is fierce.

Adding digital to your traditional media revenue has never been more essential than it is right now. As trusted advertisers, traditional media outlets actually have an opportunity to reverse the exodus of revenue to less-trusted sources by offering these digital solutions yourselves!

Let’s look at why you should add digital to your marketing mix, what you can sell, and how to do it!


Why You Should Add Digital Marketing to Your Repertoire

Regardless of which traditional media platform you’re accustomed to selling ad space on, you’re in the business of selling ads that’ll drive leads and sales to your customer’s business. The core concept of selling digital is exactly the same, just through a different medium.

Traditional media providers are actually in a position to cover even more of the market and provide a comprehensive solution to customers by combining your core competencies with a digital approach.

In fact, How Advertising Works Today found that, “Unified cross-media campaigns were on average 57% more effective than those that aren't.”

This means that TV, radio and newspaper advertisers are actually in better position than most agencies to add cross-media campaigns. Do you think most agencies are would be able to offer traditional media solutions? Probably not. But you can evolve and build upon what you already dominate.

Here’s why digital is essential to incorporate into your suite of solutions:

The Benefits of Digital

  • Your audience is online: Digital advertising is now the go-to media for businesses in 2016, and in 2018, spending is forecast to grow by 12.9 percent compared to 2017. It’s obvious by now, but while people still consume a diverse array of media, digital is dominating.
  • Easy to track: The beauty of offering digital solutions like digital ads, reputation monitoring, social media marketing and content marketing is that it’s easy to track, adapt, and prove ROI. It’s always been a challenge to attribute revenue data to traditional media, so improved reporting will help you win over current clients and future prospects.
  • It’s easy to automate: The power of automation is one of the reasons digital marketing can be so effective. For example, once a new person subscribes to your publication, automatic welcome messages can be triggered, along with drip campaigns that share videos, content series, or any other products or solutions you want to share.
  • Ability to personalize: Producing content and marketing materials that speak specifically to your target audience makes them likely to listen. For example, the top ad platforms like Facebook, Google, and YouTube allow you to reach your target customers with highly relevant and timely ads based on their online habits and a deep set of demographic data.

Probably even more important than all of this is the fact that the businesses you sell to need digital solutions. They can get them from you, or they can go elsewhere, but it’s what they’ll need to survive as the online experience continues to evolve.

Overcoming the Challenges of Selling Digital

Transitioning into the digital space sounds like a no-brainer from the outside looking in. However, for traditional media companies who haven’t yet made the move, the perceived obstacles can feel like a tsunami advancing in to crush you! Here are a few of the main challenges traditional media faces and how to overcome them:

Training the sales team to sell digital:

There’s no doubt, the digital marketing world is complex and ever-changing. For those with decades of expertise within TV, radio, or newspaper publishing industries, learning a completely new industry with a totally different sales pipeline feels daunting.

The key to becoming a player in this space, of course, is training. David Little of Comporium took a dive into this topic in a recent Conquer Local podcast:


"It really comes down to technology. It comes down to utilizing the tools that we have through e-learning, sales training, presentation materials. You really need to be able to show the sales reps that you have the ability to support them, and then you need to hold them accountable."

David Little

Senior Vice President of Enterprise Sales, Comporium

Setting up systems to train your staff and sales team is step one. Continuing that training indefinitely is step 1b. After all, in a constantly evolving industry like digital marketing, the learning never stops! Here at Vendasta, we know that those who stop learning are left in the digital dust.

Our own CRO, George Leith, notes that it’s often a shift in perspective that’s required to succeed in sales today:


"It is the salesperson that turns themselves into a consultant, that does constant learning, they are the ones that are going to be winning, and we're seeing them win today."

George Leith

Chief Revenue Officer, Vendasta

This should be the ultimate goal for your sales team. They’re not selling a product; they’re probing, asking questions, and evaluating the needs of each business they meet.

Sales Tip From Aaron LeBlanc: Make it easy for your sales team. Don't overwhelm them with too many solutions. They may not be familiar with the entire marketing stack, like SEO, Websites, Digital Ads, etc. So to start, choose a couple of key products or services that you want them to sell and then layer on other pieces AFTER they are successful.

Moving clients from solely using traditional media to incorporating digital marketing:

Even if you’ve already made the transition into selling digital along with your traditional offerings, your clients may not all grasp what you now do. Even new clients may not get it: ‘Why would I buy reputation monitoring from a radio broadcast company?’

It’s now your job to educate them about the concept of marketing spillover and why having cohesive, multi-platform campaigns is a smart approach for their brand and bottom line. Aaron LeBlanc, our Business Development Team Lead explains this concept,


“Marketing is meant to increase your sales. People spend money on marketing because they want one result. They want to increase the bottom line. If you're a restaurant and you've already been advertising in radio, the best way to make your campaign more effective is to create an in-tandem Facebook advertising campaign to the exact same targeted area. Now, not only are they going to hear your message on the radio platform, they're going to see your campaign on Facebook. So you've solidified your position in the prospective customer's mind, and you've created that top of mind awareness that leads to conversions.”

Aaron LeBlanc

Business Development Team Lead, Vendasta

Another piece of this conversation and education of your clients is the tracking and analytical advantages digital marketing services provides to the overall campaign.

Vendasta Sales Development Representative Nathan Holowaty explains,


"One huge advantage digital has over traditional media is that it is much more measurable. Traditional media like print and radio is like a shot in the dark. With tools like geo-targeting available in digital advertising, it is much easier to deliver results to the specific people you want to reach. Business owners love to see exactly how their advertising dollars are working for them."

Nathan Holowaty

Sales Development Representative, Vendasta

This mixture of your long-term expertise in traditional media, the benefits of a multi-channel approach, and the enhanced tracking capabilities of digital will be attractive to your current clients and prospects once they understand it. It’s just a matter of getting them up to speed and demonstrating why you’re the choice over your pure-digital competitors.

Sales Tip From Aaron LeBlanc: These clients are already looking at digital, or probably buying it already from someone else (so you have an opportunity to offer them full-stack services with you)! However, if they are solely using traditional today, the way to move them to digital is by talking about measurable results provided with digital and how it enhances the traditional media campaign.

Heavy digital presence and competition in your market:

Currently, there are over 7,800 digital agencies in the U.S. Plus. revenue has almost doubled in the digital space from $7.5 billion in 2011 to $14 billion in 2016, so yes, competition is fierce out there.

So what you’ve got to do is evaluate your market and your competition with a fresh perspective. If you're sticking to offering solely newspaper ads, but your competitor offers news ads, digital ads, and social media services, who do you think your prospects will choose? On the flip side, if your competitors are just offering newspaper ads, and your digital agency competition hasn’t branched out into traditional media, you have an opportunity in your market.

"You've got to recognize where you are against your competition. Are you willing to make that change? What opportunity will that bring you? Then look at your sales process and how you engage with your customer and what do you need to do differently if you can't just literally pull your product out of a bag and do a pitch."


David Little

Senior Vice President of Enterprise Sales, Comporium

Giving local SMBs a multi-platform, comprehensive option brings something new to the table. Your sales team will be able to explain exactly how your solutions bring that extra value, juxtaposed against existing market options.

Sales Tip From Aaron LeBlanc: Leveraging existing relationships with clients and focusing on building trust with new clients is key. Your two main advantages with existing clients are your traditional media expertise, and the trust you’ve built up through your past service.

Cost of acquisition is high:

Yes, selling digital is hard. With a TV, radio or newspaper ad, your customers can see or hear what they’re paying for. They understand it, which is comforting to them! Digital, on the other hand, is tougher to explain even if you can point to a concrete set of analytics each month that reports the results they’re getting.

However, despite its tangible qualities, the true cost of traditional media is up there too.

"Traditionally the cost of acquisition for print, radio, and TV is much higher than digital. When you compare the dollar amount that it takes to reach your desired audience digital has no comparison with a similar spend."

Nathan Holowaty

Sales Development Representative, Vendasta

This is something your sales team may need to educate their SMB prospects about. It’s like this: If I put a bowl of cat food outside to feed my outdoor cat, I’m also feeding all the animals in the neighborhood with a taste for Friskies. That’ll include raccoons, squirrels, and my cat’s rival felines around the ‘hood. That’s part of the problem of traditional ads. Targeting is difficult to control. However, if I keep the bowl indoors, I know Space Monkee is the only one getting fed. That precise targeting is what digital brings to the table.

However, another point to consider is that the sales lifecycle can be longer for digital because of this prospect-education process that your team may need to do. As George mentioned above, your sales team will need to take on a more consultative role with SMB prospects.

David Little expands on this:

"Don't go in the door expecting to make a sale on the first call today when it comes to digital. There are just so many different opportunities, different services, so many different value points that those different products bring. If you go in today and try to sell somebody something in the digital space today and you haven't taken the time to try to sit down and understand their business and what they're trying to accomplish, where they're having struggles, then you're going to lose all respect with that customer and they're going to see you truly as a pitchman."

David Little

Senior Vice President of Enterprise Sales, Comporium

Sales Tip From Aaron LeBlanc: Customer acquisition cost is not a digital-only problem. Traditional media typically has High CAC as well, as you know. You’re just facing a different acquisition process for digital customers than you may be used to. Check out our recent article on lowering CAC to learn more about how to deal with this.

Mixing Digital with Traditional Media: 3 Examples

TV + Digital Media

As you probably are aware by now, TV is no longer No. 1 in ad spend. TV captured roughly $71.3 billion in domestic revenues in 2016, according to eMarketer, just under digital advertising's $72.5 billion in the IAB's digital ad revenue report. While TV is certainly still in the game, finding ways to diversify product offerings is key.

Service bundles and campaigns that maximize the strengths of both traditional TV ads and digital marketing better fit the needs of today’s local businesses. Combining digital and TV is actually a proven dynamic duo, according to Gayle Fuguitt, CEO and president of the Advertising Research Foundation. A recent ARF study found that out of 3,200 ad campaigns, adding digital to a TV campaign yields a 60% “kicker effect” on the ROI of the campaign.

The way to make this effective for your clients is to sync the messaging of TV ads and your client’s social and overall digital presence. Let’s say you run a TV campaign for a local attorney. When prospects see the ad and develop some interest, the first thing they’re going to do is look into that attorney’s reputation and try to find out more about them online.

This means they need to be present and active on the main social channels their target audience frequents. They need reviews across channels like Google, Yelp, and Facebook. They need messaging across all social profiles and their website that syncs with the ad you’ve run for them.

As a broadcast company, you’re in a position to create outstanding TV ads that’ll generate strong interest in your clients. Taking that next step and controlling the digital aspect of the campaign as well will help you achieve that ‘kicker effect’ and drive ROI for your clients.

Radio + Digital Media

It’s going to be more difficult than ever to survive with radio ad revenues alone going forward. Online digital ad spend in the US will reach $83 billion in revenue in 2017, with radio ad spend hovering around 18 billion. A PwC report notes that “The radio advertising market in the U.S. is expected to remain relatively flat through 2021 alongside resilient consumption and growing reach.” This mediocre short-term outlook makes diversification of services crucial at a juncture when local businesses are re-evaluating their marketing priorities. The ability to offer a mixture of service packages that combine traditional radio ads with digital marketing solutions can actually give you an edge over the typical agency.

“There's a lot of spillover. So if you advertise on the radio, they're going to go to Google and they're going to look for your business. They might not convert on that ad or give you a phone call right away, so you need to be found online, be present in the consumer's mind, have reviews and reputation in place.”

Aaron LeBlanc

Business Development Team Lead, Vendasta

An effective example would be the combination of a radio campaign with a strong PPC and organic SEO campaign. This type of campaign covers the bases for listeners who hear a radio ad that interests them, then hop on their phone to look up the product or local business they just heard about.

Offering these types of integrated multi-channel campaigns can separate you from the competition for new clients, and gives your current radio-only clients a reason to bring their digital business over to you.

Newspaper + Digital Media

The newspaper publishing business has probably faced more economic adversity and industry turmoil recently than any of the above industries. If you’re in the newspaper industry, you don’t need me to tell you this, but for those who don’t know, newspaper advertising is the only market expected to see a decline in revenues between this year ($16.8 billion) and 2021 ($12.2 billion).

The move to digital has been a painful one for many publications. Consequently, finding an appropriate mix of traditional services and digital solutions is essential for survival in the industry. Fortunately, there are digital options that fit nicely with traditional newspaper ads.

Again, offering cohesive multi-platform campaigns is a smart way to give your clients something that others can’t. For example, you could offer a local dealership a set of ads that promote the same offer in print, in your online publication, through a banner placement campaign that targets the websites their audience frequents, and finally through a PPC campaign.

Related Reading: The 5 Ws (and 1 H) of Native Advertising

Newspaper Success Stories:

How a 180-year-old media institution smashed sales expectations with digital marketing solutions

Kansas City Star Discovers New Leads in Old Places with Marketing Automation

How the Modesto Bee Company leveraged Marketing Automation

Final Thoughts

A lot of business believe that if they start selling digital, they're going to have to stop selling traditional ads. They think digital is going to take over all their focus and all their revenue. What we’ve learned here is that digital doesn't completely cannibalize your traditional sales. In fact, digital actually enhances the product you're selling because it gives you greater ROI tracking and it allows you to create an integrated strategy across many different channels.

Has your company faced challenges like these transitioning into digital sales? I’d love to hear about your experience! Just speak up in the comments section below.

Want to add digital to your traditional to grow your revenue? Vendasta makes it easy! We can be a true partner in your transition in that we can help you with training, fulfillment of digital services, and our white-label solutions even allow us to essentially act as a ‘branch’ of your business! Our Marketing Services team is a proven way to grow your business without scaling the workload for your team.

Grab The Definitive Guide: Adding Digital to Traditional Media Sales here, or hop on a demo to find out how we can help today.

About the Author

Patrick Liddy is a former Content Strategist for Vendasta. Prior to Vendasta, he earned his Master’s Degree in Public Policy & Management and was a Marketing Specialist at a digital marketing agency in Maine.

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