Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Though cold calling is an integral part of newspaper advertising departments, it’s a skill that can be difficult to grasp. For that reason, many newspapers make the contentious decision to script their cold calls. Scripts are a useful tool when starting in the business, juggling multiple promotions and launching a new product. So how do you script a successful cold calling script? In the November/December 2011 issue of Above the Fold Magazine, we explored the different ways of capturing an advertiser’s attention along with a few industry-tested opening lines. Today, we’re expanding beyond opening lines and looking at some call center scripts that are currently in action.

When faced with shifts in technology and procedure, managers need to take a simple, clear approach to communication. Aligning departments with company goals and providing the education necessary to help employees transition are key to successfully navigating change.

In addition to the basics of operating an advertising department (staffing, administration, account assignments, sales goals, technology procedures, etc.), there are other things that successful publications do to boost effectiveness. Let's take a look at five.

One of the key principles in Arte Nathan’s “Managing Your Boss — Mastering Change — The Power to Lead” was the importance of hiring the right people. Along with breaking new ground in recruitment advertising, he developed a controversial screening test to weed out applicants. The crux of Nathan’s argument: You need to sell culture, hire for attitude and train skills. He encouraged newspapers to embrace this concept. A successful business relies on the having the right people to do the job.

Arte Nathan, President of Strategic Development Worldwide out of Laguna Beach, Calif., has been a pivotal influence in the creative development of the modern day Las Vegas Strip. After spending 25 years in human resources with Steve Wynn, the casino-resort developer responsible for the Mirage, Treasure Island and the Bellagio, among others, Nathan has been on the cutting edge of innovative hiring in a changing industry. Although much of his career has been spent in hospitality, Nathan’s adaptations of the world’s evolution can, and should, be implemented in the new scene of classified advertising.

Clearly the toughest challenge faced by most classified supervisors is setting priorities correctly. Most classified supervisors get little or no training in time management. They take the reins of the new position and are bombarded with “zillions” of things that must be done right away. Most of these issues involve human resources, computer system, accounting, production or other processes that have little or nothing to do with getting someone to purchase an ad.

Although the newspaper industry is far from stable, the need for quality sales reps that meet the qualifications of the rising standards in advertising sales is exorbitant.  Many companies insist they do not wish to discriminate against the unemployed, yet oppressing those who are currently out of work is a recent phenomenon that is gaining political and media attention. In fact, democrats in both chambers of Congress are seeking to make the discriminatory hiring decision a federal crime.

In addition to the basics of operating an advertising department (staffing, administration, account assignments, sales goals, technology procedures, etc.), there are other things that successful publications do to boost effectiveness.

This past July, I was scrolling through Facebook, making posts and creating a How-To Guide on monetizing the social media site when I ran across a photo from Leslie Nagy. Nagy, the Classified Advertising Manager at Freedom New Mexico, happily keeps her Facebook family and friends in the know with what’s happening in her department. This particular day, her Ad Director, Shane Adair, was kicking off a Full-Page Mania sales blitz. He started the team off right with a hearty breakfast and a yummy lunch to get them motivated! Through further contact with Nagy, I found her paper is no stranger to incentives that help the sales team boost morale and increase ad revenue. Here’s what she had to say:

Following the success of Bingo Bucks (see Advertising Executive, August 2011), Above the Fold/EZAdsPro’s Sales Manager Greg Ludlow created Marathon Money for his sales staff at The Times in Frankfort, Ind. Ludlow said he designed Marathon Money with similar intentions — he wanted to develop an incentive program that would both inspire his staff to confront areas in which they had been avoiding or that were particular challenges for them as well as give them an opportunity to earn some extra cash. His hopes were to increase revenue while getting his reps out of their comfort zone. Marathon Money, which followed Bingo Bucks by about a year, was fun for his reps, who enjoyed monitoring the progress of the race — which was displayed on a big graphic course posted on the wall — throughout the month-long competition.

In the world of print and online media, transitions to the next big thing are rampant and managers are left relaying these changes to employees. Each medium has its merits, but navigating ad-based revenue can be challenging for both manager and sales staff. The key to a fluid move is communication. This concept seems like a standard component of managerial life, but to be effective, leaders must know and consistently exhibit positive communication habits. Things such as “Yes, I am in regular contact with my department” or “Yes, I’m aware of ongoing issues” don’t mean you have created and/or maintained the kind of connection that results in productive, flexible employees or effective conflict resolution.

At last spring’s Blinder Group/SNA Revenue summit in Chicago, Cheryl Phillips gave a presentation Outbound Telesales: Myth or Miracle? (Which we featured in the last two issues of Advertising Executive.) During the presentation, she emphasized the need for hiring the right people for your telesales team (which can be easily adapted to your newspaper’s sales team in general). She suggested that during the interview process, you should give your reps a pre-screening test. This led to an enlivened debate about how to hire the right types of professionals for your sales team with audience members chiming in on what works for their newspapers.

The issues surrounding offering free ads for private-party items are far from settled at most newspapers.  In my consulting practice I get the same questions again and again, and quite often management doesn’t like my answers. Those are the managers that want to hang onto the days when we had little or no serious competition, and could profit from private-party classifieds. At most papers true private-party advertising hasn’t made a significant contribution to profits in a great many years.  By true private party, I mean one-time sales of personal property by individuals.  Any ongoing moneymaking activities, bulk items, or real estate would be excluded by this definition.  The various free online sites have served as a “category killer” for profits from this area.  This is similar to what happened to camera stores when discount stores started selling cameras at or below their costs.  They just could not compete, and many went out of business for lack of a new strategy.

If you’ve been following this series, you’ve seen several incentives programs held all across our nation that were spoken about at this spring’s SCAMA convention in Jacksonville, Fla. Multiple voices from around the USA spoke of their sales teams’ efforts in increasing motivation and morale and overall revenue generation. This month I’m taking you to Huntsville, Ala. home of Lori Ziegelmann, the classified advertising manager at The Huntsville Times.

I was asked to speak at the Blinder/SNA revenue summit in Chicago two weeks ago. The summit was two and a half days of revenue initiatives and participants went home with a plethora of ideas they could implement as quickly as they wanted. If you ever have a chance to go to this summit, do so. You will not be disappointed.

With June and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month coming to an end, there is still a need for tolerance and acceptance in the workplace for people with dissimilar sexual preferences. To continue our Sensitivity Training series, we will focus on sexual orientation in the workplace.

May is Mental Health awareness month, which makes this the perfect month to focus our Sensitivity Training series on mental health in the workplace. Today, mental illness stigmas are more rampant than ever. In his article “Mental Illness, Stigma, and the Person in the Office Next Door,” Professor James T. r. Jones writes about how he hid his diagnosis of bipolar disorder for over 28 years. He states that people today stigmatize mental illnesses more than they did 50 years ago. That “job applicants hide hospitalizations or gaps in employment due to mental illness, because they fear disclosure will keep them from being hired. Families of those with mental illness,” he continues, “are so embarrassed that they are afraid to acknowledge the condition to their loved ones.”

Building camaraderie and having fun at work are attributes of the nation’s greatest work environments. According to the Great Places to Work Institute and the Gallup Organization, organizations with such qualities are ranked among the best places to work year after year. As April rolls around, practical jokes, when done appropriately, can be a comical part in the fun.

The job market today is a minefield, for both applicants and employers. No one likes the hiring process; it’s an arduous, time-consuming task that is filled with a number of potential pitfalls. Every employer wants to be sure they hire the best possible candidate. And to do that, they go through a screening process based on qualifications, tests and interviews. But, today, employers have a new way of helping to determine the personality of any applicant: their Facebook profile. Well, really, any social media can help in that regard. Social media provides a window into any applicants personality: their interests, their sense of humor, if they’re professional, and, sometimes, how they behaved at their last job. Social media profiling is a value-added benefit a newspaper can do to help entice recruiters.

You know it’s going to be a tough one, you may have even mapped out an approach, never-the-less, you are going to experience a conversation that is simply hard to handle. And, while it’s tempting to avoid the situation all together, that merely creates a toxic working environment, which often times leads to collateral damage— be it your coworkers, your productivity or your actual employment. Although the conversation is hard, you must handle it and you must do so delicately.

Mike Blinder’s presentation on how to “Fix Your Sales Organization” at this fall’s SNA conference went over with a resounding success. In it, he detailed the steps to creating a successful sales team, the brunt of which resides with the sales manager.

Teamwork has always been the corner-stone in the business world, but few understand the nuances of creating a successful team. A team-based, horizontal organization structure is viewed as the best method for creating a successful business with the involvement of all employees. In order to have a successful team dynamic, everyone needs to have a clear understanding of the mission or goals of the company.

Respected leaders operate with integrity and honesty. They may not always be right, but they can be trusted to assure justice. An effective leader, whether in sales management or in the U.S. Marine Corps, holds the same ideals and principles. Leaders are the most influential member of a team, but remember they are, in fact, leading a team. It’s not always easy to live up to the characteristics of an effective leader, but these traits will ensure your staff’s success and loyalty to you, and can establish morale, order and discipline.

One of the most important elements for a successful change is communication. Managers need to clearly communicate the reasons of the change, the steps of the change and the expected impact of the change, as well as being able to listen to their employee’s ideas and concerns about what is happening.