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Great Ideas

Recast the multicast: Cable companies in dozens of markets are facing a new sort of ad-sales competitor--broadcast TV stations that have launched niche channels making use of new digital TV spectrum and also relying on retransmission over cable digital tiers. New “multicast” channels like NBC’s Weather Plus or music network The Tube could pose competition to cable ad managers by flooding the market with new inventory that’s often given away or used by broadcasters as “value-added” inventory. “My concern is they’re going to have a lot of additional inventory to move in the market, and that’s going to drive prices down,” says Cable One VP of advertising Mike Bowker, whose Biloxi/Gulfport, Miss., systems operate in a TV market where Weather Plus has launched. Bowker’s advice: Remind prospective advertisers that in most instances the brand-new networks have established little following, and that the digital cable platforms used to retransmit these networks generally reach only a subset of the broader cable-subscribing marketplace.

Open doors with research: AEs having trouble getting appointments? Media sales advisor Michael Guld says some custom research may be the elixir that finally gets calls returned. Example: He once advised a frustrated salesperson to interview customers of a high-end dry-cleaning business to find out why they patronized the shop. “When it comes to trying to get an appointment, you have a little better chance when you can introduce yourself, state that you have interviewed 15 customers and would like to share your findings,” Guld writes in The Million Dollar Media Rep, (185 pages, Guld Resource Group).

Focus, focus, focus: With dozens of networks offering up lengthy menus of local advertising promotions, it’s often difficult for sales managers to fire up AEs about particular events. That’s why Mediacom Communications Corp.’s ad sales group has adopted a “focused sales event” approach that aligns the organization’s efforts around a single selected endeavor. The idea: identify the most promising promotion available every few months, and build a concentrated, company-wide effort around it. “We call it a day of focus,” says group VP of advertising Steve Litwer. “We cancel everything. We do nothing but talk about this. We fax, email, advertise it, and instill signing bonuses.” Litwer says a key to success is limited the duration of event-based sales to no more than two weeks. Otherwise, “you lose the sense of urgency,” he says.