Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Determining an Advertiser’s Needs With Diane Ciotta

Brainworks' 2012 lecture series started off with a bang, as Diane Ciotta offered advice on how to Drive More Revenue. First and foremost, you need to recognize an advertiser's needs.

In the Brainworks-sponsored webinar, Training Classics founder and president Diane Ciotta emphasized the importance of recognizing the needs of an advertiser and steering the conversation, and sale, toward helping the advertiser attain that need as opposed to simply attempting to make the sale. She said the first step was to understand the wants of an advertiser, and how they differ from the need of the advertiser.


Most reps focus on giving the advertiser what they want, instead of what they need. Ciotta said there are seven basic wants of an advertiser that reps often focus on, this leads to loss of revenue and a disappointed customer. These wants include:

An inexpensive advertising program

Remember, you only get as much out of a program as you’re willing to put in it.

Pictures in the ad
Ciotta said that while some ads do necessitate an image, it depends on the size of the ad — which depends on the needs of the business. For instance, a 1x2 ad is too small for a photograph; it doesn’t have the right impact. Encourage pictures only after the needs, and size, are determined.

Color at no charge
Reps want to be able to offer color at a nominal charge, or free, because they don’t understand the value of color, Ciotta stated. She continued, “buying color means they’re buying what makes them different from the rest of the ads. It’s what helps them stand out.”

Added Value
Similarly, advertisers want added value — in terms of extra circulation, publications or distributions — and reps want to be able to give it to them. However, this undermines the value of these bonuses.

Many advertisers request certain positions in the paper — as the old adage goes, location is everything — however, most companies aren’t charging for this. Ciotta believes that because this is a requested, and desirable, value, newspapers should be charging for positioning.

Editorial in exchange for advertising
Many advertisers say they won’t pay for advertising, because it doesn’t work, but they want free editorial space. This proves that it is not the newspaper’s fault the ads aren’t working, it’s the ad. Ciotta said, “Businesses have been hurt too often by buying ads that don’t work, because the sales rep doesn’t focus on the needs of the business.”

Duplicate someone else’s ad
Often, advertisers find an ad they like and want the paper to duplicate. This never works, Ciotta said. Every ad should be designed based on the needs of the business — the size, the position, the ad, etc. Each business is different. It warrants a different ad.


Now that you understand that wants of the advertiser, it’s time to focus on the needs of an advertiser. Here are Ciotta’s eight business needs:

Name Recognition
Some advertisers just want to keep their names out there. If that’s what they’re really trying to do, a small, consistent ad is all they need. It’s perfect for professional services, lawyers, doctors, etc.

Increased Traffic
“That’s a totally different thing,” Ciotta said. With an increased traffic need, advertisers want people to get in touch with them. This could be anything from a storefront to a service-oriented business, where traffic comes in over the phone, to increased web traffic. It simply means an influx of customers. Recognize this need, and don’t sell a name recognition ad when an advertiser is looking for increased traffic — the ad won’t work.

Reduce Inventory
The need to reduce inventory means the focus is on the product going out. This differs from the increased traffic need, which is concerned with people coming in instead of selling the product. With the reduce inventory need, the advertiser doesn’t care if one person comes in and buys it all, they just want to sell that product.

Target Market
The focus here is on reaching the right people. This differs from the increased traffic need, because it’s about quality, not quantity. This could be a demographic target market or a geographic target market. Understand the difference, so you can make recommendations based on the offer, size and consistency.

Competitive Edge
Local advertisers want to maintain a competitive edge in their market place, allowing them to sustain and even grow their businesses. A competitive edge ad works for both new and existing businesses that perceive a rival company is taking a portion of the market share. Many newspapers have businesses in their community that have been in the market for years. When a rep approaches them for advertising, the common objection is, “We’ve been here for 20 years. Everyone knows us. We don’t need advertising.” This simply takes the name recognition need off of the list. Ciotta advises to ask, “What’s changed in the 20 years you’ve been here? Who is new in the area?” Encourage advertiser to regain, or maintain, that competitive edge.

Name recognition is who I am, image is what I am, Ciotta said. Name recognition is a long-term small ad with no offer. Image needs to be a large, color ad with white space. It should look comfortable and friendly, and answer some of the questions in readers’ minds. Image ads are usually best for mid-to-large-sized businesses. They are often PR oriented, focusing on a charity or an upcoming event.

“Customer” Awareness
This need focuses on the advertiser’s customer. Whenever a business has a change going on, they have the need to alert their client base. For example, if they’ve expanded, changed their hours of operation or product offering, added new staff (reps, Realtors®, stylists, doctors), etc. The business has invested money in whatever that change is, so they need to drive new traffic to make it worth it.

Budget Allocation
Reps need to recognize a company’s “seasons” and they allocate their advertising dollars accordingly. Seasonality could mean businesses that change with weather-related seasons or simply business trends, like hiring seasons. For instance, look at education — schools have different times of the year they need enrollment, and will be advertising. Look at business trends and encourage advertising when it’s best for their needs.