Making the most of prime advertising space

UK Fundraising

“Finding Dawn and Catherine through Action Planning was particularly attractive in that it gave me people who had not just experience of ad sales but of the charity and fundraising sector. That’s a first! It’s their style that matters to me, their tone of voice, the way they do business. They have managed to maximise income in a way that reflects UKFR’s approach. They’ve guided me in different, effective business processes, which has been great, and they’ve helped structure our advertising around editorial to make it more relevant. That has transformed what we’re able to offer. It’s not just presence but context for advertisers and readers. It’s a win-win.”

Howard Lake, Director, UK Fundraising

UK Fundraising was founded in 1994 to help charities hear about and access available funding. It provides daily updates via email, social media and its website, all of which are free to use. The company has always relied on advertising revenue to keep it that way.

The agency that had managed UKFR’s ad sales for 12 years was moving so Director Howard Lake, who has known David Saint for 30 years, asked if he could recommend anybody who could take over. David put forward Action Planning Consultants Dawn Ray and Catherine Chin, both of whom had extensive ad sales and marketing experience.

There are three main channels: the website, the daily e-newsletters and social media, namely LinkedIn and Twitter. With 85,000 followers on Twitter and around 17,000 on LinkedIn, divided evenly between the company page and the group page.

Howard’s request was for a person or people who could take over and maintain the ad sales function. But Dawn, who runs a marketing and business consultancy, and Catherine, whose background is in ad sales with a very large agency, recognised that there was the potential to increase UKFR’s ad revenue significantly, and so they set about driving a more formalised sales and marketing strategy to realise the potential gains.

Dawn and Catherine set about revamping UKFR’s sales and marketing strategy. They changed the messaging to better reflect the proposition of a service with 85,000 followers on Twitter and 17,000 followers on both its LinkedIn page and group, and expanded the target market to include a wide range beyond businesses with a fundraising interest, such as software companies and consultancies.

The new structure and focus they brought to the sales function included a stricter discipline around selling and account management and ensured the necessary resources were in place, including effective customer tracking.

A major addition was the introduction of editorial monthly themes to hang ads on. They wrapped extra editorial around big spenders, making UKFR a go to resource for valuable content, with a loyal following.

Dovetailing together on a part-time basis and a commission only contract, Dawn and Catherine achieved a strong return on investment. More traction from editorial content resulted in an escalation in sales and a significant increase in the value of customer spend on an individual basis.

UKFR’s advertising offer is now a fast moving proposition with added discipline around payment, which is all taken up front. They are now working with a number of customers who they have grown on a significant basis and are now planning further ahead.

The type of advertiser is much broader and the activity driven by the increase in advertisers is itself bringing in new customers. Engagement is snowballing, with some significant names joining the client roster, including the biggest partnership by fee income that UKFR has ever had.

Consultant’s insight:
Bringing external support into a business can often unveil strengths and assets that have gone unnoticed. UKFR is a business with a large following and a strong ad sales proposition but the product was underrated and undersold, including a lot of discount offers that really were not unnecessary.

When it works properly, advertising sales isn’t just a way of turning space into money, it’s a process that offers mutual benefit to both buyer and seller. By approaching UKFR’s ad sales with the attitude of “how can we give added value to the buyer?” it was easy to see how well-planned, themed editorial would be valuable and engaging and would, therefore, attract significant traction for sales.

Howard was very open in taking our advice on board and the future for UKFR looks very secure and exciting.

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