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The Hollywood Reporter, a daily trade paper for the entertainment industry, retained Ken Kragen to teach the paper's 28 top sales professionals how to catapult sales to the next level.

The Reporter's goal was to take market share from the famous trade paper Daily Variety. This was a daunting task because, in show business, it is not "news' unless it is read in Variety.

Several years ago, the physical size of Variety increased several inches in height and length, making it much larger than The Reporter. The purpose was to enable Variety to print bigger ads. This enhanced the newspaper's perceived value to advertisers because it gave them literally greater visibility. Kragen knew that, while advertisers like the king-size Variety, readers preferred the letter-sized Reporter because it is easier to handle. The writing style of The Reporter made it more readable. Finally, The Reporter was selling more advertising than Variety, although the entertainment industry did not generally know it.

The theme of his presentation was that today's competitive marketplace requires the sales force to not just "think outside the box," but to create "a whole new box." They needed to change advertises' perception of The Reporter in dramatic and creative ways. 

Their first task was to get the buyers' attention. To do so, he suggested sending them a free video. It would depict people having difficulty stuffing Variety into their briefcases, propping it up in front of them while reading and so on. Ultimately, they would toss Variety into the trash and happily take up The Reporter. He recommended top commercial and video directors capable of making a humorous video that would not only grab attention but also create a real buzz in Tinseltown.

He anticipated that Variety probably would be fuming mad and that this too would work to The Reporter's advantage by calling even more attention to the video. He also suggested a whole series of other ideas, some intended only to stimulate the discussion of new concepts:

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  • GIVE FREQUENT ADVERTISER MILES (earn enough and get a free ad).
  • CREATE ADS REQUIRING READERS TO GO TO THE REPORTER WEBSITE FOR THE CONCLUSION OR PUNCH LINE, AND THUS ENGAGE THEM INTERACTIVELY.
  • GET TESTIMONIALS FROM INDUSTRY LEADERS AND CELEBRITIES, ATTESTING TO THE RESULTS THEY ACHIEVED FROM REPORTER ADS.
  • RUN A CAMPAIGN THAT SAYS "SIZE DOES MATTER!"
  • CREATE A BROCHURE OF THE VERY BEST "IN HOUSE" ART WORK, TO SHOW SMALLER ADVERTISERS THAT YOU CAN PROVIDE THIS SERVICE AND SAVE THEM TIME AND MONEY.
  • CONCENTRATE ADVERTISING PUSHES IN CONJUNCTION WITH OTHER HIGH PROFILE ACTIVITIES INVOLVING THE REPORTER TO HIT POTENTIAL ADVERTISERS FROM SEVERAL DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS DURING A SPECIFIC TIME PERIOD.
  • GIVE ADVERTISERS INFORMATION THAT IS AGAINST YOUR OWN INTERESTS, TO BUILD LONG-TERM CREDIBILITY (I.E. "I DON'T THINK YOU SHOULD RUN AN AD NOW. IT IS TOO EARLY, TOO LATE, OR IT JUST WON'T DO YOU ANY REAL GOOD AT THIS POINT IN TIME."
Everyone received some specific idea or tool they are now implementing into their sales efforts.. Ken knew what we did and our weaknesses.. He gave us some great ideas to improve our market share.
— Dawn Allen,┬áTalent Advertising Manager, The Hollywood Reporter

View some of Ken's other consulting projects: