Dohrn Urges Simplicity, Visuals and the Magic of 3 to Power Your B2B Sales

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"The publishers that I've seen who put together an advertiser advisory board or a reader advisory board always do better than those that don't," said Ryan Dohrn, founder/CEO Brain Swell Media, during his recent session at SIPA Annual 2018 titled How to Make it Easy to Buy From You and Close More Sales.

"Publishers don't always [form those groups] because they think it's one giant arguing session. But I'd rather have advertisers or buyers complain to me so we can fix the problems."

Most of the speakers at our sessions are experts at what they do—marketing, editorial, leadership, etc.—and they deliver a well-thought out case study or successful initiative. Dohrn is an expert at sales but he also teaches sales, so if you ever have the opportunity to see or hear him, definitely sign on. (Or watch the video from the June conference.)

Here are some takeaways from his excellent session:

Media kits are complex. So simplify. "89% of your buyers want 99% of their information on your company and ad space offerings before they speak to a sales person," Dohrn said. "You want to simplify them dramatically. They've probably been written by someone with a journalism degree. But information has to be presented in a visual format, and that means the removal of words. Visuals are received 60,000 times better in reception and context. Here's the test [for good visuals]. If you see no words on the screen would you know what they do? I sell more because I try to create things that are very simple to understand."

Involve sales people from the beginning. "Sales people really need to be involved in the process [of putting together your media kits] because you're creating tool sets for them to use," Dohrn said. "If they don't like the tool sets, they won't use them, and it just frustrates the marketer. So as much as it is a pain in the rear to deal with the salesman to create the tool kits, we've got to do that because sales people are very linear."

People understand way more graphics and a lot less text. Dohrn is always surprised by the vast literary content of media kits. Specifically, the subscription offers are too long, he says. He also makes a plea for landscape layouts for your media kits. "Portrait looks good if you print it out—as if people print things out anymore," he said. "We have to create sales kits not to be printed out but to be read online. And the landscape format fills up your [desktop] screen. 'What about mobile?' people ask. People who are buying advertising are looking at it on their desktop mostly."

Sponsors want to see lots of people in the materials you show them. Dohrn showed a successful media kit page that had two big event photos with lots of people and then one block of oversized text. "When you are creating sales proposals [or] media kits, the rule of 3 applies. People who group things in 3 see the best comprehension. Goldilocks, 3 Little Pigs, Shakespeare always had 3 acts, 3 strikes and you're out... Think 3."

Everything is a package in life. Dohrn likes to offer, yes, three sponsorship options. More than three tends to drop the sale. If you go with two, people go with the lower option. With three they'll usually go with the middle one so you format it that way. It's the movie theater pricing. Do you want the $9 popcorn, a better deal for $9.25 or popcorn til you drop for $9.75? They'll take the better deal. Delta added a middle option of Delta Comfort to First Class and coach. We like options.

People want to be part of what other people are doing. People will typically let loose of their money if they're seeing that someone else is taking the risk, Dohrn said. Normally, people don't like taking risks. But if you use visuals to show people who are taking the risk, then others will follow.

Implement self-service sales. They don't want to talk to me anymore, Dohrn said, especially as the buyers get younger. Out of 1,400 B2B buyers surveyed, 60% of their decision is made via online research before they contact a sales person. So your online tool sets need to be amazing. Some people will put a media kit with no rates figuring they'll have to call for more information, but Dohrn said that just makes people mad now. Include prices.

Follow up quickly. "If you call a lead in the first 5 minutes after they submit a web form, they're 100 times more likely to get on the phone," Dohrn said. "So when that form is downloaded, it hits my salesperson's phone. People say, 'That's so creepy.' That's not creepy; that's good salesmanship. 'Hi. You just downloaded my media kit, do you have any questions?' 'Yes I do.'" Dohrn also recommends giving "IMMEDIATE access" to a media kit after people complete a simple form. (Again, 3 pieces of information: name, email and optional phone.) "They don't like it if you say you'll get back to them in 24-48 hours."

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…