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Newbie needs help: How to sell website advertising space?

Hello, everyone! I hope all of you are doing great.sn;

My name is Jesus. I am a newbie in this community and in sales. I would like to explain a bit about my problem and then see what other people in this forum suggest.

I live in Monterrey, Mexico and I am the owner of a website that has digital maps of the city where people can find addresses, businesses, etc. Similar to Google Maps, with the difference that Google Maps DOES NOT work when you're trying to find street names or businesses in Mexico. The website is free for the users, so my business model is based on selling advertising space.

I've tried different ways to try to sell my advertising space to small and mid-size businesses. For example:
- Calling and asking to speak to the manager or the marketing department. The purpose of these phone calls has been to get an e-mail address where I can send more information about my advertising services and see if they are interested.
- Contacting different companies through referrals from friends of mine that work there.
- Visiting advertising agencies to see if they are interested in handling my products and offer them to their clients.
- Sending unsolicited information via e-mail using the e-mail addresses that are listed on the yellow pages.

After 3-4 months I have not been able to complete a sale, not even an appointment.

This is a company I started about 6 months ago. The first 2-3 months were spent fixing some technical difficulties. But now that I am supposed to be generating sales, I've had no luck.

There are other things that affect this situation:
- I am completely new to sales. My background is engineering. From other posts that I've read I can see that I need to improve several things like my phone call scripts, unique selling proposition, etc.
- I've also read that to make it more interesting to your prospects, your product should actually solve a problem that they might be having. What problem does my advertising space solves for my customer? I've been asking myself this question over and over again for a few days now and I haven't been able to come up with an answer.

I know my product is intangible and that probably doesn't help me much.

My question is: What strategy should I follow? Should I approach my potential customers by phone first? Should I just go out there and go from door to door, business to business and see if someone is interested? Should I keep sending unwanted e-mail? What is the best sales strategy to follow to sell an intangible such as website advertising space?

By the way, as of right now my company has only one employee (me), so it's not like I can go out there and hire a bunch of experienced sales oriented people that can do this a lot better than I can.

Please advise.


Jesus - by jhlmata
I guess I forgot to mention something... On top of my ad space I also have other products. For example, I have a directory of businesses that shows all their info: name, address, phone, location on a map, etc... I don't think this can be sold on AdBrite. I charge $10 a month to be listed on this directory and my idea was to get at least 1,000 paying customers to get listed on my directory.
What strategy do you think I should follow for this type of product? - by jhlmata
Hello Jesus:

I would advise you to take several different marketing steps. Since your website is geared to your local market, you need to concentrate on offline marketing in your area.

First, I would create a professional looking flyer/brochure describing your site and emphasizing it's value. Gear this piece to the end user...the people who will using your site to find local businesses. You need exposure, and lot's of it. Speak with local restaurant owners, clothing stores, entertainment businesses and tell them how your service will help their customers. Ask if you can leave a stack of your flyers in their place of business for customers to pick up.

At this point don't approach these businesses about advertising with you. You need to make these people aware of what you are doing and build as much 'value' into your service as possible. You are after 'exposure' for now.

After you get these marketing pieces into as many business locations as you can, I would then approach a few of them and offer a month, or two, of advertising space...at NO CHARGE. This will get you some clients to start. Several will switch from free to paid after this trial period.

Let's say you have a restaurant or two on your free plan. As soon as you place these ads on your site (and in your flyer/brochure) you should approach more restaurants and let them know their competitior's are advertising with you. This business is extremely competitive and these businesses tend to advertise where their competition is also advertising.

Don't offer the free advertising with these new contacts. Try and secure their paid advertising to start, but if that doesn't work then go to the free offer.

Use this 'target' marketing with other businesses also. When you get a clothing store, approach the other clothing stores. Same with entertainment businesses.

Jesus, why not write some free articles describing your free service and send them to the local newspapers, business associations, government and private travel offices, and other publications in your area? This can result in a tremendous amount of free exposure for your business. And when you can get an article published your credibility increases.

Contact local business associations and offer to give a short talk at one of their meetings about how your business helps tourists locate local businesses. This will expose you to many business owners in your local area that will be interested in the good you are doing for them.

Contact your local government agency that handles the website the government uses to bring tourists to the area. They may be interested in adding a link to your site on their government site, creating more exposure for you.

Stay alert for any opportunity that will give your business exposure Jesus. Brainstorm creatively and you come up with more ideas. It's too tough to just walk into a business and expect the owner to take time out from what they are doing, listen to something they know nothing about, and purchase your service on the spot. You first need to make yourself and your business and it's value to the community known on a wide scale.

Concentrate on the 'value' of what you are offering Jesus and think of ways to expose that 'value' to everyone in your area.

Hope I've helped you...Coach Doug - by Dougd55
I think you've hit the nail on the head. There's a lot of good information here. Some of the things I had not considered, but now my context has expanded and I think this might work a whole lot better than the thins I am doing now.

I will brainstorm more based on these ideas and then put them into practice. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thank you very much for your help. - by jhlmata

Make sure you create a written marketing plan and keep to a schedule to complete these new marketing functions you will be undertaking. Once you create a written plan it serves as your 'roadmap' to success and gives you directions to reach your destination. Without a detailed written plan it is very hard to move forward toward your goals.

There are some other free things you can do to drive more traffic to your website also. Make sure your website address (URL) is included in all your written marketing materials you will be working on. And you need to keep records of the monthly traffiic to your site, for future use. I will help you with this later, once you begin your new marketing campaign.

Good luck Jesus...Coach Doug - by Dougd55
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