Get a Leg Up on Your Competition: Read the Trades

This week’s guest author is Karen Noonan, Partner Communications Manager for the’s RevResponse partner program. She works with publishers and bloggers from a variety of niche industries to help them monetize their web presence. Find her at

Think back to grade school. Remember all of the teachers who insisted that reading was an important life skill? Guess what? They were right. Not only is the ability to read a vital skill in this world (following traffic signs, ordering from menus, etc); but, if you choose the right reading material, it can be the key to finding your competitive edge in the sales world as well.
How can something as simple as a little extra reading benefit you? Here are a few ways that reading trade publications can help you land a big sale, improve your blogging prowess, or just generally get ahead in business:

1. Improve your sales pitch.

The ability to hold your own in a conversation about the industry you are selling signals to a prospect that you are well read, well informed, and — perhaps most importantly — serious about the product you are pedaling. By subscribing to complimentary magazines in related to sales (in general) and your product’s industry (in specific), you have information at your fingertips covering a range of topics that might come up in your sales meeting, including new competitive products and technologies, important mergers and business transactions, upcoming conventions and trade shows, and more.

2. Stay up-to-date with technology.

Blogging, social media, twitter – all of these buzzwords matter. The more in-tune you are with marketing and sales tactics of today, the better positioned you will be. The good news is that you can stay abreast quickly, easily, and free of charge. Find a good source for that information, and keep checking in.
To find reading material that will help you stay savvy, visit There you will find free downloads like:

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3. Become a commodity in a tough economy.

Whether you are a salesperson, a marketer, a small business owner, or an employee hoping to rise in the ranks, understanding your company’s role in the competitive landscape will allow you be a voice of influence to determine the best way to position the company’s products and services.

Joe Anthony, a senior executive at a national public relations agency, says that he reads trade publications to stay up to date on what tools, techniques and trends are making an impact in his industry. By reading various viewpoints of peers and competitors Anthony says he gains a wider perspective on what is happening in the world of PR.

“Reading the trades helps me stay on top of what companies and agencies are doing to advance their public relations initiatives,” Anthony said. “The information I find in trade magazines not only helps me see the big picture but it helps me remain valuable to my agency and my clients as an information source. Reading the trade magazines also allows me to keep up to speed on what agencies are making moves with new initiatives and new hires.”

4. Find out what skills you need to excel … and then acquire them!

While reading your new trade magazines you will discover that there are areas in which you may need to improve your skill set. The good news is, in addition to the free subscriptions you’ve acquired you can also easily find additional resources to help you build your skill set. Make sure to take advantage of the wide range of free white papers, webinars, podcasts, and software downloads, available on the web, that focus specifically a new concepts or technologies, offering an overview of, or even a detailed lesson in, an important new skill.

A little more information…

There are so many benefits related to educating yourself with these free industry resources. But, how can something so beneficial and simple also be available at no charge?

The short explanation is that your subscription is paid for by advertisers. More specifically, these magazine publishers offer subscriptions at no cost because they need a qualified reader base in order to sell advertising. To get your free subscription, you typically have to fill out a short online application to verify that you are (or have been, or shortly will be) professionally involved in some aspect of the industry the magazine covers.