Analysis: News Analysis - Is cross-selling the way to steal blue chips from the nationals?/RBI has faith in centralised sales but what do its rivals think, asks Lexie Goddard?

Consumer magazine sales people have been doing it for years. Last week a business publisher told Media Business about its plans to sell display advertising across its 50-plus titles using a centralised team of cross-sellers. Reed Business Information’s plan is to steal big-spending blue-chip clients from national newspapers and management magazines like Haymarket’s Management Today.

Consumer magazine sales people have been doing it for years. Last

week a business publisher told Media Business about its plans to sell

display advertising across its 50-plus titles using a centralised team

of cross-sellers. Reed Business Information’s plan is to steal

big-spending blue-chip clients from national newspapers and management

magazines like Haymarket’s Management Today.



Chris King, RBI’s director of central sales, reckons it has got a few

advantages over the likes of The Daily Telegraph when it comes to

targeting business people. The first is its database of more than one

million readers. ’We know our readers by name and address as well as by

their purchasing responsibility and size of their company,’ he

boasts.



’Newspapers are bought by unknown, changeable readers, the wastage

factor is colossal.’



The idea is not new - VNU set up a similar scheme in 1995. It now not

only sells across its business and finance and IT sectors, but also

offers pan-European deals. Hewlett Packard and Computer Associates are

just two blue chips to have signed up for Europe, where VNU has 46

magazines.



’We realised the blue chips had 18 sales reps from different titles,

calling them twice a day,’ says VNU deputy managing director Jonathan

Ross. ’VNU now dominates the display market. I’m surprised it’s taken

Reed so long.’



Strangely, senior sales people at RBI’s rivals Miller Freeman and Emap

Business Communications - both owners of a similar range of specialist

publications - refused to comment on the topic of cross-selling display

advertising.



Emap houses its business titles in separate units including Construct,

Freight and Healthcare. Teams can sell across titles in the same camp

but don’t venture into other territories. Off the record, a sales

director cast doubts on the ability of sales people to sell across

Emap’s diverse titles - they range from Fish Farming International to

Nursing Times - and branded RBI’s project ’ambitious.’



Miller Freeman’s spokesman Andy Sandford said: ’We are able to respond

to specific requests from clients to sell across our titles but have no

unit dedicated to it. It’s an idea we’ve looked at but felt the business

model was not right.’ However, he added: ’Now that we’ve got websites it

adds a new dimension. We’d like to see how Reed gets on.’ Watch this

space.



Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph’s display ad director Chris White-Smith

isn’t exactly quaking in his boots at King’s revenue-stealing plans. ’We

consider every medium a threat but it would take a lot of business

magazines to deliver the number of business people that just one

national newspaper can deliver,’ says White-Smith. ’We also create

sponsored business supplements with companies like Sun Microsystems,

which ran an A to Z of business technology in nine parts. Through our

database we don’t only reach business people but touch them through

direct mail, so when it comes to targeting, RBI doesn’t have the USP.’



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