MB: What are your most effective ad sales vehicles?
Carroll: We don't see as many continuity contracts as we used to. Instead, advertisers want ad packages targeting specific times of year, shows or events. They also buy programs in our various niche supplements-office furniture, home entertainment centers, kids' furniture and global textiles-which are published eight times a year, on average. And everyone wants to sponsor our annual Furniture/Today Leadership Conference, which brings together top furniture retailers and manufacturers.
MB: What ad sales techniques work best for your market?
Carroll: Since most furniture manufacturers don't have ad agencies, we're usually dealing directly with a president or vice president. So we've trained our salespeople, many of whom have MBAs or business degrees, to provide added value with a consultative form of selling we call "shirt sleeves marketing" [where salespeople meet with a prospect's executives and then provide analysis and recommendations]. In addition, our ad services department produces clients' campaigns at no charge; one-third of our ad pages are produced in-house.