Level Up Your Yearbook Ad Sales – Sales Strategies from Jeb Blount
Written by Jenica Hallman, CJE
Bestselling author, industry-leading sales expert and former yearbooker Jeb Blount joined current yearbookers across the country in a virtual webinar to discuss best practices and tips to level up their yearbook ad sales game. Sharing a wealth of knowledge from his own experience selling yearbook ads and as a national sales leader, student panelists asked a variety of questions about selling yearbook ads while many more students and advisers listened and gleaned the valuable information.
Here are a few of the highlights that Jeb discussed with these students:
- The most important part of securing an ad sale is just three simple letters – ask.
- Selling to parents and businesses are different. Parents are a heartstring approach. That carries over into businesses because buying an ad supports their community, but it’s important to add more of a “what’s in it for you” approach to businesses, like pointing out the number of impressions they will get. You will want to blend that heartstring tug with a sense of community responsibility.
- When starting out with business ads, pick the right businesses to pitch. Start with the easy ones first, then progressively harder ones. Small, local businesses are likely your best place to start. Also consider which businesses are thriving right now during this pandemic.
- Understanding your mission is key to motivating your staff. Build the dream. Maybe you want to do a really cool cover treatment – how many ad sales would that cost? It is a lot easier to motivate your staff when you have a goal. Rally the team through competition – competitiveness is a very strong motivator – and then sit down with people to focus on goals. Jeb suggested 15 minutes, 15 dials events with your staff or weekend blitzes with teams of two.
- Yearbook ads do not have to only be in the yearbook. Share on social media when a business supports your program, tagging them in the post, have all of your students agree to like their pages and see if your school will allow you to list businesses that support the yearbook program on the school website. Tell them the yearbook staff will give their business a five-star review online. Each of those will guarantee additional impressions for their business, even beyond your student body. Social media is a very important tool because it allows you to connect with a business in another way, breeding familiarity and recognition.
- Offer family discounts for more than one ad. Mom and Dad will probably buy a personal ad, but Grandma and Grandpa might also want to buy a personal ad, so they have room for their own photos and messages.
- Social proof is critical to creating a tradition of ad sales at your school. If you are selling senior ads, show parents one of your yearbooks that has senior ads. If they think everyone else is buying ads for their students, they will not want their student to be the only one without this recognition of their achievements. Once they have bought for one of their children, they will inevitably buy for the rest of their children in following years. The same can be said for businesses. If a business finds out other businesses are buying ads, perhaps even their competitors, they will want to buy an ad too.
- If you are targeting a specific business, think about who on your staff is the best personality to connect with the business and managers. Team wins ultimately matter more than individual wins if there is someone better suited to that business.
- Consider a pandemic discount for businesses that are hurting, selling the smallest ad at cost for any room left in the book. You need to have a very defined program for this, but you can advertise this as something special you are doing to support local businesses by getting their names in front of students and their families. They will also be more likely to buy again when business improves.
- When you move from small local businesses to larger chain stores, you will probably need to focus more on the value of buying an ad instead of the heartstring, community responsibility pitch. Have your talking points ready. Find the right person to talk to, likely the general manager and tailor the ad to their needs to see what they want. Present yourself in a relaxed, confident and professional manner, thinking about the best personality on staff for that business, because they need to like you to buy from you. And always offer the social proof once you have sold to one to get other businesses to buy.
Through each of the questions, Jeb offered insight and advice that can benefit any ad program. Listen to the replay to hear the full discussion for yourself and don’t miss his next session on Oct. 15.