Why I Hawked $1 Newspapers Outside of a Race Track

I am the 30 year old founder and CEO, of outdoor media company, Spin My Ad, headquartered in Saratoga Springs, NY.  I personally have sold and closed over 115 advertising campaigns from start to finish. As a start up, I closed deals with local businesses all the way up to corporate giants such as Live Nation, State Farm, The Hearst Corporation, just to name a few. I not only sold my company to these ad executives, but I also sold an entirely new idea with zero to little proof of concept known as bicycle billboard advertising. My personal life and my company's vitality depend on my ability to close deals. For a lack of better words…I know how to sell.

This past August, a client of mine had 30 high school students on summer vacation hawking race day tip newspapers outside of the legendary Saratoga Springs Race Track. On average 25,000 people a day will walk through the front gates. I thought to myself, “what a great way to refresh on the very basic fundamentals of the art of the sale”. At the permission of my client, I put down my phone, met him at the entrance of the race track and picked up a stack of their $1 newspapers.

Most people would be embarrassed, shy, and even hesitant to stand amongst a sea of teenagers, as a high level advertising executive shouting the papers highlights to floods of people crossing the street to enter the race track. I on the other hand….couldn't wait to get started to polish up on the basics.

Sales is personal. You pretty much need to be a chameleon who constantly adapts. Does it get anymore personal than having 100's of different people right in front of your face blowing by you to make their first bet? Just like selling campaigns for Spin My Ad, I had to figure out the best way to make sure my pitch was heard and effective in sparking emotion and triggering action. Although the product stays the same, the product features stay the same and the unique value prop was clear, I needed to customize my approach to deliver it through a static free channel.  I had to constantly personalize my delivery on the fly.

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For example; I saw a guy with a Mets hat walking in and the first thing that came out of my mouth with a hand full of papers in my hands had absolutely nothing to do with the product and everything to with opening the communication channel. I said, “Hey Mets fan, what a great year, huh? Pick a winner for the Mets today.” After he responded, I knew he was receptive. That's when I knew I could continue the conversation and present to him the features of my product. At that point, the door was now wide open to comfortably tell him price tag and seconds later, I had sold my first $1 paper. Clients, in any field…buy YOU just as much as the product. Always keep that in mind.

Sales is also about creating a need and then offering a solution/filling a void. There has to be a need in order for someone to buy your product. A lot of times your prospects aren't even aware of the need or recognize the void. This is your job in helping them to identify exactly not what they need but why they need it. For example; When I was hawking papers I realized these people were entering the track with our without this product so it was my job to make them see they needed my product. I accomplished this by presenting a question, “How can you pick a winner without knowing the field?” As soon as I was positive that they heard the question, I then inserted a solution…”Use the Green Sheet and make sure you don't bet in the dark.” Catching the crowd rushing in the gate also allowed me to create impulsivity which helped triggered the sale. Similar to when I sell special client promotions with an expiration date for Spin My Ad.

The power of NO can be crushing. In sales, it has to be motivation or fuel as you will to move on to the next pitch and do an even better job. I tell people all the time, I've heard no 100 more times than I've heard “yes”. Why I was able to sell 100+ advertising campaigns had everything to do with failing fast, learning from my experience and focus on the next pitch. You can't let emotions get in the way of your ability to get back on your feet to make another pitch. I can't even count how many people walked right by me and said “no thanks” outside of the race track. It certainly didn't feel good…in fact it was a very humbling experience going from selling thousand dollar campaigns to being unable to sell every passerby a $1 newspaper. But, just like at Spin My Ad, I embraced the power of “no” and used it to move on quickly with the lessons I learned to implement my strategy on my next pitch. Someone once told me, “Everyone fails at one point or another but not everyone learns from their failures. The ability to do that will set you apart in life.” From the gates of the track to Spin My Ad, constantly learning from my failed pitches has made me successful.

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Selling $1 papers was the greatest sales refresher course in the world. I had to know my product like the back of my hand, connect, communicate, think quickly and fail fast. Everything that's important to do in closing a major advertising deal was just as imperative in selling a $1 paper. Like most things in life…the fundamentals never change. I learned so much in just a few hours and I would encourage any ad executive who sells to get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. I am already anxious to do it again next summer.

Kenny Goodwin, Jr., Founder and CEO of Spin My Ad.

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One Comment

  1. Great read @Kenny. You’re absolutely right about the product being the LAST thing to sell.

    I would never call myself a sales person but I’ve sold my way to building a 10 person digital agency and the MOST important thing I’ve learned is that you have to be personable.

    Whether it’s noticing that the person is health conscious and striking up a conversation about the Spartan race or noticing that they’re into politics and asking them questions that you know they know the answer to.

    It’s all about being personable.

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