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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on February 2, 2000. All rights
Selling Dow Jones: David Briggs
You are successful in sales — you have made or
your quota for the past three years — yet when you go to make
a pitch at your biggest client’s office, you’re nervous. How to calm
"Butterflies are good," says David Briggs
with the Wall Street Journal. "Butterflies get you charged up.
If you didn’t have that adrenaline rush you’d probably be dead. So
enjoy the high energy. It will come out as passion for your product.
You will be more believable if you come across as sincere and excited
than as not interested."
Briggs will speak on "Business-to Business Advertising for the
Print Medium" for the Business Marketing Association (BMA) on
Tuesday, February 8, at 6 p.m. at the Newark Airport Marriott. Cost:
$30. Call 609-509-5601.
The son of a Rutgers professor and a librarian, Briggs majored in
business administration and English literature at Rutgers, Class of
1981, where he started selling space advertising at the Rutgers Daily
Targum. He moved to selling for a shipping company, Sport Magazine,
4 and the Journal of Commerce before coming to Dow Jones 10 years
ago. He was promoted to associate eastern manager of advertising sales
last year and has 23 people on his team.
Selling print ads, he believes, offers more chances to be creative
than selling a particular product, such as desk chairs or copy
"It’s intangible, as opposed to saying this copier is faster than
that one — yet tangible, because every day we come out with a
great product." And in selling for WSJ he deals with top
not purchasing agents.
At the BMA meeting Briggs will discuss how the WSJ developed its
advertising campaign. Its traditional advertisers come from three
major categories: financial (for obvious reasons), technology (to
reach top management and also because technology gets lots of
space) and automotive (because WSJ reaches an affluent audience).
Briggs hopes to broaden that spectrum. "We are reaching out to
the folks who may have felt intimidated by the Journal, who felt it
was `not for me’ from a circulation standpoint as well as from a trade
advertising standpoint," he says. For instance, one of the new
slogans on home delivery bags proclaims that "I’m Taking My
Public and I’m Only 29."
"We are hoping advertisers will realize that, in addition to the
traditional audience, we are branching out," Briggs says. Men
still represent more than 70 percent of the subscribers, but the WSJ
is hoping to edge toward advertisements that target women —
geared to women, and even fashion. To compete in the market with
interest publications and women’s magazines (financial ad rates are
notoriously high) the WSJ has lower rates for retail, as well as for
entertainment, movies, restaurants, and travel.
About those rates: "We generally ask people if they are sitting
down when they inquire what it costs to run a full page once,"
says Briggs. Cost: about $150,000. But 85 percent of those full-pagers
run on a schedule. "The majority of people are looking at us as
a place to have an ongoing marketing presence, whether selling a
amount of brand, increasing recognition to the financial community,
covering a particular business, or selling a product," he says.
Briggs likes solution selling (helping the client find a solution
to a problem) rather than feature selling (telling the client what
the WSJ offers). "We try to interview our clients and find out
where they are trying to take their business, their goals, their
factors, how they are bringing the product to market — and try
to put ourselves in the position of a partnership. The more we can
understand about our client’s needs, the more likely we can come back
with a solution. That’s what makes us successful as a corporation
— other than the fact we have one of the finest products in the
What about those inevitable losses that are so depressing to a
"I’m lucky in that we come out 253 times a year," says Briggs.
"There is always the next day, week, next month. In sales, I don’t
know how you can sit around and brood."
As any career salesperson knows, a good month this year means trouble
next year, because it’s up to you to meet or surpass that mark. That’s
the good news and the bad news for Briggs. What with the strong
and all the new advertising money coming from E-business (and, as
he would note, his team’s excellent salesmanship), the Wall Street
Journal had a more than 50 percent increase in revenue for December,
1999. "That will be a real difficult thing to match," says
Briggs. But he has a good sales spin: "What we have to do is go
into the second half of the year with a good start."
New leads are the bugaboo of almost any salesperson, but Briggs mines
his own newspaper for them. "We definitely encourage everyone
to, first thing in the morning, read the paper," says Briggs.
"One of the places I always look is on the Nasdaq page, where
they have the name of the company, city, and state, a little about
the business, and why the stock moved that day. This is where you
can find all these growing companies that may want to get the word
— Barbara Fox
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