Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

It was a bright and beautiful day in Hershey, Pa., and the extracurricular activities of the America East Conference had already started outside the doors of the "Daily Deals" session held by Tanya Henderson of Local Media Association and Ben Beaver of Second Street Media. Those who partook in the early festivities missed out on an interesting and enlightening session that looked at daily deals programs implemented in many newspapers nationwide, and analyzed the reasons why certain deals were a hit while others flopped. 

The 2012 SCAMA Conference offered an open-floor discussion of the issues plaguing the newspaper industry today. With 35 pre-submitted questions, conference organizers were faced with the impossible task of addressing a wide range of matters. However, instead of breezing through the questions, they focused on what was most relevant to the audience.

Summer is finally on the horizon and excitement is flowing through the office. With the weather outside sunny and bright, the productivity level inside your department may be a bit weak this June. So far this year you’ve given your staff their annual spring cleaning, began an ongoing training program for all staff members (not just rookie reps), learned to coach your staff with focus on their individual strengths and weaknesses and reprioritized your schedule while helping your staff to do the same. It’s been a busy first half of the year. Start off the second half of 2012 by fine tuning the tactics you’ve already established. Start co-training your staff. Allow the reps to help each other for greater individual success. Partner up a great pitcher with a solid closer and allow them to teach one another their techniques to attain greater sales numbers. Continue weekly meetings with individual staff members to focus in on their positive attributes and aid in the areas where they are struggling. Being an effective leader will bring greater productivity in these warm-weather months and will also increase your bottom-line.

Facebook, Twitter, Foursqaure, and now many newspaper professionals are talking about the next big social networking site: Pinterest. Pinterest — a virtual bulletin board that allows users to “pin” images of food, weddings, home decorations and the like — is growing in popularity at astronomical rates. Editorial departments of newspapers have made a fairly seamless transition on to the site by posting images of local restaurants or a scene from last night’s sports game, and then linking to a corresponding article on the paper’s website. There’s even a collaborative pin board for newspapers called “Newspapers Pinning.” However, ad departments seem to remaining on the sidelines, once again stumped as how to monetize this very new, very popular social networking site. However, it can be done, and it could prove very beneficial to the ad department and the newspaper’s advertisers.

With the mass exodus to online advertising, many are curious about the best way to organize advertisements on the newspaper’s website to ensure the best visibility and thus, a healthy click rate. Traditionally, newspapers and websites alike have a consistent visual format, which allows for the predictable organization of news and advertisements. While this encourages easy navigability, it also allows readers to bypass advertisements because the space that they inhabit is so easily anticipated. Like any everyday routine, predictability often encourages us to switch over to autopilot, thus overlooking the extraneous details that ask too much attention, ads are not exception to this.

How do we bring readers back to the newspaper? It’s a question everyone is asking as readers can turn almost any corner (albeit digital ones) to find an easier and faster way to consume media. Both advertising and editorial departments are seeking solutions to engage readers and then maintain that audience. Newspaper editorial staffs across the country have suggested making the newspaper hyperlocal and including user-generated content in order to create a stronger interaction between the reader and the news. Although editorial and ad departments don’t always readily see eye-to-eye, they are striving for the same goal. Therefore, ad departments, who are asking the same question, can also increase revenue by creating greater interaction and engagement between readers and advertisements. 

You will find references to pop culture phenomenon everywhere, perhaps even places it doesn’t belong. People often shrug off the misuse of pop culture references; they understand the hype and go about their days. Other times, however, a misused reference can be a major faux pas, thus damaging a brand’s image. Knowing this, how do you negotiate the increasingly saturated and ever-changing pop culture market to give branding advice to your clients? The easiest answer is to know your reference. However, with the amount of pop culture influenced stimuli, that task could be difficult to accomplish. 

Spring has sprung and for those in the newspaper advertising industry, it is best to continually look ahead. In this case, begin considering the mindset of consumers who are looking forward to summer. With summer on the horizon, potential real estate customers may be looking to downsize or even to buy a vacation home. Since it’s the perfect time to amp up real estate advertising, let your advertisers or potential advertisers know this information, thus strengthening that relationship and increasing the likelihood of your own sale. It may seem counter-intuitive to advertise at a time when their customers are thinking of skipping town, but explain to them that, like your ad department, they also need to stay ahead of the game. Below are a few advertising ideas you can suggest to your real estate clients to most effectively use this time between spring break and summer vacation.  

LinkedIn — in case you didn’t know — is a business-oriented social network. Since its launch in 2003, the site boasts 135 million registered users, and it is gaining popularity as a tool for both applicants and employers. LinkedIn is more than a job-listing site; it is a network of professionals. LinkedIn posts on their site that “executives from all 2011 Fortune 500 companies [are] members” of this network. The site uses multi-level contacts called Connections, and each user has a list of business Connections. Think of it like a Rolodex™; but (certain restrictions apply) you’re able to access all of your Connections’ contacts as well. They are your extended Connections and this maintains a chain of professional contacts. The site utilizes a “gated-access approach” to preserve privacy, but you can use these Connections to search for suitable candidates.

Although the editorial, circulation and ad departments in newspapers tend to be separated, each operating within their traditional structures, a new development in web circulation could have an impact on these very separate departments. This development is the paywall. If you don’t already have a paywall at your paper, then your editorial and ad content is free for users, allowing anyone to read articles and see advertisements. If you do have a paywall, there are a few different implementation strategies, ranging from all content being subscription based to limited free content.

Every year, across the country, local chapters of the Home Builders Association (HBA) and the Building Industry Association (BIA) host the Parade of Homes. This is a prime opportunity to boost ad sales in your real estate section by suggesting that agents become involved in this beloved community event. The Parade of Homes allows community members to tour a group of newly built homes in the area. It’s a great time for both prospective home-buyers and home-builders to discover the latest in building, design and decorating techniques.

Using social media as a way to host scavenger hunts is gaining popularity, especially with the use of Foursquare. Best when coupled with your clients’ other social media channels, like Twitter and Facebook, a scavenger hunt is a fun and innovative way to prepare for garage sale season and get consumers to visit multiple sales.

The purpose of recruitment advertising is obvious; it is designed to attract possible employees. Although the need for employees on the part of advertisers has filled the need for ads on the part of ad departments, a tough economy, and other recruitment resources, sometimes makes these ads a tough sell. However, there are ways to combat objections to “unneeded” recruitment ads, and it starts by creating a need that is more complex than simply advertising an open job. 

The annual National Networking Week is just around the corner (April 8–14), which gives you the perfect opportunity to network with prospective clients in the area. As summer approaches and the temperature slowly rises, local business owners will begin looking for new ways to attract customers that are out and about during these warm days. You can offer a solution to their problem. Consider throwing a mixer for local businesses to meet and mingle with the community. This gives those companies the ideal chance to promote their products and services, build relationships with community members and prospective customers, as well as connect with other local businesses in the area, which is the very essence of networking.

As the weather begins to warm in most places around the nation, students of all ages are preparing for the mid-semester spring break. While some schools — usually universities — host spring break at the end of February or in early March, many of your family readers will be vacating the area at the end of March or early April. Targeting your demographic, appealing to their needs and reaching outside of the box for the spring vacation season will help you garner more readers and incentivize advertising for your marketers. Creating a special section dedicated to spring break is one way to bring extra eyes to the newspaper and extra dollars to your department.

Special sections are a great way to target demographic groups and provide information and advertisements specifically for niche audience. Your advertisers will probably want to take advantage of the opportunity to advertise right next to information directed to their clients, so special sections are also a really good way to satisfy your advertisers and get them involved. Since this issue focuses on the retired demographic, here are some tips for building a special section for the retired demographic.

As the April showers turn to May flowers, rejuvenate your sales department! Spring, May in particular, is a time of rebirth and re-growth. Take a hint from Mother Nature and re-create your classified advertising sales. From training and coaching your staff to growing your readership, a few techniques this month will surely raise your revenue generation. In April, we suggested focusing your attention on training and coaching your staff. This month, concentrate on time management and prioritizing; both your schedule and your staff’s. With the end of the school year approaching, many of your sales reps will be looking to have their children home in a scholastic hiatus. Prioritizing tasks and managing the time they spend on sales calls will help them leave their work at work and their home life, appropriately, at home.

While many small papers look to huge newspapers to find new and innovative ways of adding revenue to their advertising departments, in many cases it isn’t necessary. Yes, larger newspapers usually have larger budgets and are staffed with excellent people, this does not mean, however, that smaller papers do not have equally innovative people that can turn their ad departments around with clever ideas and a commitment to keeping up with the times. This article is the first in a series that will be doing mini profiles on smaller newspapers, whether privately owned or owned by a small corporation, that are doing new and interesting things in their ad departments to compete in an ever-changing and consistently more digital market.

One of these papers is the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

Dealerships tend to be part of the late majority in adopting new social media trends. Because the automotive industry is a “need” industry (people can only keep their current vehicles for so long before needing a replacement or additional vehicles), using social media to engage with customers is an extremely viable marketing plan for dealerships. They have mostly relied on direct advertising to convey their messages, but the nature of social media is a little bit different — it focuses on communication and engagement, and these two concepts can make or break social media marketing. By teaching and supporting your clients on what social media is really all about, you can help them avoid the pitfalls of social media that occur when there is no definitive strategy, which results in not properly engaging the audience and often unintentionally harassing instead of informing consumers.

Many local businesses get left out of print and online advertising because they don’t appeal to the local consumer. This doesn’t mean that these businesses — such as hotels — don’t need advertising, they just need to be advertised in such a way that they are visible to the appropriate audience. Since consumers of a local market generally only stay in an area hotel in the event of a natural disaster or home remodel, advertising nearby hotels seems futile. However, newspapers are not exclusively for the local audience, especially with the advent of globally accessible websites. A good way to approach this would be to ask yourself what are the most popular sections of the paper for tourists, or non-locals. 

We’ve talked about Top of the Mind Awareness; you know what it is, and you’ve probably brought it up to your clients. Although you understand its importance, and more or less how it works, now is a good time to start thinking of implementation strategies that can help you get your clients to the top of their customer’s minds. Even though TOMA is simple in concept—be the first thing to pop in someone’s mind—the process of getting TOMA can be complicated. It’s not just about advertising, it’s about advertising in effective ways, so that though of in a specific context, not just noticed on the pages of the newspaper. 

The biggest job growth has been seen in the 55 and older demographic, which is responsible for 3.2 million new workers since 2001, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We’re entering the age of the “Golden Boomers” — retired or soon-to-be retired baby boomers — but most of them don’t view retirement as their “golden years.” Many plan on pushing back retirement or expect to find new work to pad their incomes. The Wall Street Journal reports that 68 percent of current workers expect to work after they retire and AARP published that 8 out of 10 baby boomers plan to work in retirement. Since more and more seniors want to work (in some cases, employers prefer their skills over younger workers), it’s smart to target ads that recruit the retired. One reason that reps should target this audience, of course, is that they’re avid newspaper readers.

Foursquare is a location-based social media network that uses smartphones to check-in using GPS coordinates. It allows consumers to share insider info for their favorite hangouts. With the rise in popularity, Foursquare has begun to shift into the world of real estate. Foursquare can help Realtors® establish a brand presence, connecting them to potential buyers and the community. Setting up a Foursquare account and using the ideas listed below will offer your clients a well-rounded, comprehensive social media presence.

With the start of the third quarter now underway, it’s time to revive your staff’s sales strategies and bring in the highest numbers of the year. Last month, you gave your staff their annual spring cleaning, this month focus on training and coaching to further extend their sales potential and their service reach. After shaking up their accounts and ensuring their dedication to their positions, it’s important that you take the time to truly sit down with each sales rep and discuss what they’re doing appropriately and where they need improvement. Furthermore, once you’ve established what needs special attention, assign individualized tasks to allow them progression. You can also partner staff members together to aid in the joint efforts of improving your department. Surely, this sounds like a lot of work, but to ensure increased revenue this quarter, you must advance your staff’s abilities, and the only way to do that is by training and coaching.

This month, beyond the training, we’ve outlined a few ideas to help generate new and increased revenue. Think creatively, and encourage your staff to do so as well. Need inspiration? Check out our Business Building Calendar for extra ideas, or keep reading to find a few suggestions to impress your advertisers.