Prepare a go-bag for presentations

Prepare a go-bag for presentations

By John Foust

Richard is an advertiser who has seen years of sales presentations. His pet peeve is any salesperson who shows up unprepared. “It’s a waste of valuable time to be in a meeting where someone is not ready for the topic at hand,” he said.

“I remember a meeting with an ad manager – a manager – and he showed up with no briefcase or folder, no rate information, and nothing to use for note-taking. All he had was a business card. I guess he thought his presence in the room would be enough for me to decide to run ads with his company. When I mentioned that it would be helpful to see a copy of his paper, he said he would have someone bring a copy later. His whole approach was arrogant and lackadaisical. It didn’t take long for me to decide that I could get along just fine without doing business with him.”

Although Richard’s example is extreme, it illustrates the importance of preparation. There’s a lot truth in the old saying, “Perception is reality.” If a prospect perceives that a salesperson is unprepared, that becomes their reality – and the result is a large obstacle for the salesperson to overcome.

Consider the briefcase. In this instance, let’s call it a go-bag, a term which concept likely originated in the military, where service men and women have to be ready at a moment’s notice. People also prepare go-bags of essential items that are needed in case of emergencies. Just pick it up and go.

Here are some basics for your advertising go-bag:

1.Note-taking device. It’s crucial to capture the things you learn about your prospect. Whether it’s a paper notebook or an electronic device, it’s important be ready to take good notes.

  1. Legal pad or sketch pad. You should always be ready to sketch ideas. Just a few shapes on the page can help an advertiser visualize an ad. “The headline can go here” (horizontal lines). “A photo of your featured product can go here” (large box). “Call-out copy blocks can go here, here and here” (small boxes).
  1. Calculator. Yes, it’s okay to use the calculator on your phone. Just make sure the phone is muted and not distracting.
  1. Ruler. This will eliminate the need to guess the size of ads on tear sheets and other samples.
  1. Rate information, ad specs, coverage map, etc. Have enough copies for anyone who may attend the meeting.
  1. Current issue of your paper, along with copies of any special sections you’re selling. You can also consider adding screen shots of key online pages.
  1. Business cards. Make sure they have sharp corners and no creases.
  1. Folder of samples. It’s smart to have a folder of examples of the use of white space, the difference between serif and sans serif type, and clean layouts.
  1. Folder of ads your prospect has run, along with relevant proposals and hard copies of emails. Obviously, you’ll add these to your go-bag before each appointment.


(c) Copyright 2020 by John Foust. All rights reserved.

John Foust has conducted training programs for thousands of newspaper advertising professionals. Many ad departments are using his training videos to save time and get quick results from in-house training. E-mail for information: