What Time Do The Football Games Come On Tomorrow Selling Ads in the West Point Bugle Notes – How Email Marketing Turned Annual Dread to Delight

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Selling Ads in the West Point Bugle Notes – How Email Marketing Turned Annual Dread to Delight

I have been selling ads for the popular military yearbook, West Point Bugle Notes, for at least 16 years (since 1995 or earlier). Selling ads for this publication has been a thorn in my side since I was hired and has been a source of annual terror until this year. That’s because there are a number of hurdles to overcome that rarely exist for other types of ad sales. First, the book is only 2.5 inches by 4 inches tall, a hardcover paperback. In addition to being given out each year to the incoming class of cadets at West Point, it is sold at bookstores to tourists or history buffs for about $40. With more than 300 pages, it is nicknamed the “Bible of the Bible” or the “Book of Knowledge” because it contains the vital information that cadets must memorize in order to graduate, and has been published annually for more than a century. . Only 16 pages are allowed for advertising sales, and they are grouped in black and white at the back of the book, although color is used elsewhere in the book. With nearly 4,400 cadets in its student body, or “Cadet Corps,” the Notes Bugle plays a vital role in the success of every future soldier who enrolls at West Point; hence its small size and impressive construction. This book is reviewed hundreds of times at every opportunity during the cadet’s stay at West Point to influence its contents. Although most of the information is serious or historical, there are parts that may qualify as entertainment. Advertisers like to think that their ads provide some “relief” as well.

Unlike ads sold in a consumer magazine to accompany an editorial, for example, ads appearing in Bugle Notes accompany text about West Point’s mission; Ceremony; famous speeches; the role of sports; basic, personal and tactical skills and values; buildings; memorials; ranks, medals and badges; academics; history; tradition; songs; happiness; manners; and other important military information. Since its founding in 1802, West Point has been home to famous leaders such as Generals Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, John J. Pershing, Douglas A. MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower, George S. Patton, Norman Schwarzkopf and David Petraeus among its more than 67,000 graduates. It takes a special kind of person to appreciate the privilege of having their ad appear in such a company.

According to the United States Military Academy’s website, “approximately 3 million people visit West Point each year,” including families and friends of West Point cadets, alumni, senior travelers, school groups, and American and foreign tourists from around the world. . The website also says that West Point is one of the top three tourist attractions in the state, according to the New York City Department of Tourism. With these kinds of statistics and interest in West Point, it’s no wonder the Bugle Notes sell out at the bookstore every year.

While Bugle Notes is considered more than an encyclopedia of note-taking, given the widespread belief among alumni that its wealth of valuable information provides a proud legacy that can be relied upon in any situation, it is often a tool not considered clear light. reducing the cost of local advertisers. Until I point out that parents and other visitors will need lodging, dining, shopping, and travel during their many trips to attend annual events, football games, or simply to see their children, suddenly the Bugle’s notes of respect come through a welcome ad. with a clear purpose and great value. A complete page sells for just $350 for a year and can deliver an advertiser’s message repeatedly with long-lasting impact.

What I find troubling is that the local market for advertising potential is one of very small businesses struggling in a broken economy and surviving at best. However, those same businesses are thankful for the steady stream of customers who seek their services because of the proximity to West Point and who, as a result, see the advantage of advertising in the Bugle Notes despite its relatively “expensive” cost.

Years ago there were national level advertisers who also wanted to reach this market with inspirational messages. However, the economic downturn has affected the availability of funds for such peripheral media and higher purposes. These promoters were usually representatives of national defense or government agencies and wanted to shape the mindset of tomorrow’s military leaders through a book that is very unique and important to a cadet’s future.

That said, I mentioned above that this year’s project has been one of the nightmares of the year so far. What has changed this year? My relationship! Sixteen years ago, as well as a few years ago, my market for Bugle Notes ads was only available through a personal visit, a mailed letter, or phone calls.

I hated these salesmen with phone calls that were just annoying. Mail or marketing letters, except for some updates, went mostly unanswered, and personal visits were a huge investment of time and travel for me and rarely a source of boredom for those I visited. But those were the ropes and I learned them well.

This annual nightmare became such an issue for me that I chose to disclose the source of my anxiety about doing this to the leadership at West Point several years ago. Clearly knowing that it would be difficult for anyone to sell this product in this economy, they practically begged me to continue temporarily until they could find a replacement. It’s been so many years that they didn’t contact me until much later to do this task, and so they were more forgiving of my efforts if I kept those who could update. I was trying to do something with limited time and even more limited funds. Until this year!

I received a contract extension from West Point last fall, which clearly alerted me that they expected me to be on time this year, which is when I usually start in January. Instead of dreading the job, I decided to prepare an attractive website and an equally attractive email presentation that I could publish to a list of addresses I researched myself and create with personalized marketing messages. If the emails reached someone who could make a decision, they could click through to see the website and buy the ad online without ever talking to me. Of course I gave them enough contact information.

I was understandably apprehensive about marketing this opportunity via e-mail, as it is a well-known fact that many e-mails are avoided for fear of a computer virus infection, or worse, because it never gets sent as a result of ubiquitous spam. there is no acceptable candidate. filters. And slowly moving into the era of high technology, the local market for advertisers was never before accessible through the computer. Not to mention, marketing a print media ad via email was a bit unusual, no matter how unique the book is!

However, one evening after sending about fifty targeted emails, I received a payment notification from PayPal! Someone had bought a full page ad and informed me that the artwork would follow. I’m so excited that everything worked out the way I intended! Soon, another paid ad appeared. I then received several emails asking me questions that I was able to answer via email, which led to more sales. Several people have called me with questions or problems with payment. All questions were answered easily and all payments were received successfully.

When the sales period finally ended before April Fools’ Day, my total number of ads was more than triple what I had been able to sell over the past few years through traditional marketing. And this is a bad economy! Surprisingly, there were only a couple of updates with the balance of all new advertisers. I considered it a great success, as did West Point.

But what the cadets and their families may not realize is that every word in such a small ad has to deliver an effective message that makes them react in some way. Without such a response, advertisers will be discouraged from repeating their participation and support in future years. To my dismay, I have no way of conveying this concern to the recipients of the Bugle Notes, except to hope that some may read this article. And it is expected that those who read the notes of the Bugle will not feel compelled to respond to any advertisements, regardless of the purity of the intention or the special efforts to write appropriate messages.

If only they could appreciate the real spirit with which advertisers invest in this medium, sympathy for the fact that the West Point area is overloaded with a constant influx of tourists. Hoping to alert parents and out-of-towners to quality accommodations near West Point, several are listings for charming bed and breakfasts located in scenic and historic locations, while many are for excellent and unique dining options. With a new world-class tourist destination close to West Point, a number of promoters in Poughkeepsie, New York hoped to provide outstanding dining and entertainment for those enjoying a day trip to the Walkway Over the Hudson. And with this area rich in history in the Hudson Valley, there are advertisements promoting river cruises and nearby historic sites for interesting excursions to delight any visitor.

Since I have worked with many advertisers to create distinctive advertising presentations, it is natural that I hope that every advertiser will find success through our efforts. Although I cannot personally distribute each book to the final recipient when the cadets arrive in the middle of the summer, I have since decided to help these advertisers with an extra effort – by publishing the entire group of online ads in book form. with links to their websites if someone discovers them through an online search for West Point Bugle Notes advertisers.

Whether marketing next year’s West Point Bugle Notes will consist of renewing this year’s participants, newly established advertisers, or both, the chapter is reserved for future reading. But what I do believe is that those who own a copy of the Bugle Notes will digest its content, respect its authority, respect its history, and appreciate its importance to life…a real symbol of the time at West Point. , dear to the heart and etched in memory…’till death do us part.

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