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Sales Strategies -- Sell in a Cube, Not a Square

November 2005
By Vincent Mallardi

Forget 1-to-1, B-to-B and the like. Nowadays the foregoing are bipolar sales disorders. Instead, try a new formula. It can take sales to the third power, and is called triangular selling. This is where a "third party," besides the ordinary buyer and seller, is brought into the transaction. The results cube your sales as you step out of the square—the new math of marketing exponentially.

Who's new? Three third parties may be invited: a benefactor [B] or payer who's independent of the buyer, a content provider [C] with a gift of graphic information, a distribution channel [D] with a place to place the print, or any one or combination of these. Bringing new players to the party multiplies the returns on the sale and, at the same time, ensures there will be no chance of competition.

Why? Because control of the transaction passes to the seller—you!

Fry Communications, Camp Hill, PA, prints directories, but also provides the software for independent sales organizations to produce local phone books. Because the Big Bells are cutting back on smaller communities, there's an opportunity for so-called "boutique" books. The third parties are payers of advertising and a door-to-door delivery service.

Tap Into New Markets

Fry charges a fee per page for the added-value service that is about 1/20th the revenue that the reseller charges. Any printer with data management capabilities can similarly tap into directories and multi-advertiser catalogs. In the latter, hundreds of manufacturers or distributors can provide content and dollars to the production of a new-to-the-world printed piece under your control. The only additional ingredient would have to be distribution. Some candidates could be trade associations, government outlets, trade shows, college campuses or drops at purchasing departments.

With shrinking margins, most printers are close to giving it away anyway. "The price is too high," is a joke that takes on seriousness only in the PIA Ratio Studies. Customers place little value on the thing-ness of ink and paper bound together. Rather, the value is in giving it away provided one has content and/or distribution.

The phenomenon of Metro Newspapers is instructive. The newspaper publisher signs on with public transit agencies in the cities with large rail-commuter populations—an exclusive distribution channel. After less than a decade, the Swedish startup Modern Times Group now prints more than 15 million 24-page, saddlestitched tabloids each business day in 81 major markets within 18 countries.

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