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How to (profitably) sell ads to SMEs

The combined marketing budgets of SMEs is considerable. The challenge for publishers is how to unlock it.

By James Evelegh

How to (profitably) sell ads to SMEs

The dilemma for publishers trying to build ad revenues from small businesses is that their budgets are small and don’t justify the resources you need to put into selling to them. There’s no profit in it.

What a shame! Because if you total up the marketing budgets of all the SMEs in your patch, that is a large amount of revenue that you’re not seeing much of.

The challenge is how to develop a commercial offering for SMEs that delivers healthy profits.

This was the subject of our latest Top Tips Webinar, presented last week by Smartico’s Christian Scherbel. (You can catch the recording, by registering here.)

The key messages I took away from it were that when selling to SMEs, publishers need to:

  • Create a distinct offering for SMEs. Segmenting your advertising prospects and being able to offer different packages and price points for your large and small prospects is key. Cannibalisation is not an issue.
  • Automate the production of digital ads for SMEs using their existing print or social media ads as a start point. Automation is key to developing a standardised offer, maintaining quality and keeping prices down.
  • Offer landing pages as part of the package. A display ad pointing to a generic, and possibly ageing website, with no call to action, is underwhelming. Again, automation is key.
  • Create a simple sales message, price it within SME budgets and, if they are an existing print advertiser, offer it as an upsell bundle option. Simplicity is key. SMEs don’t have the bandwidth to able to deal with complexity.
  • Stop talking about clicks and start talking about engagement. 0.X% or, more likely, 0.0X% click through rates will not resonate with SMEs but the number of times their ad is served and how long it is seen for will.

There is sizable, profitable revenue potential from SMEs for those publishers that can create the right package.

You can catch James Evelegh’s regular column in the InPubWeekly newsletter, which you can register to receive here.