Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

The May 8, 2012 Advertising Research Foundation webinar, “Digital Influence on Purchase Decisions,” discussed three characteristics of modern consumers. The speakers — Todd Powers, Stacy Graiko, Jasper Snyder, Manila Austen and Dorothy Advincula — determined these three qualities are that the buyer is always on, buyers are emotional and the buyer is everywhere. In a previous article, we expanded on the notion of an emotional buyer, and below, we will discuss how and why the buyer is always on.

Director Wes Anderson is coming out with a new movie called “Moonrise Kingdom.” For those not familiar with Anderson or his movies, he has both directed and written, or co-written, movies such as “Rushmore,” “The Royal Tenenbaums” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” While each of these movies present a unique perspective and story, they all share a vision and idiosyncratic style specific to Anderson. When you sit down to watch one of his movies (which I recommend for those who have not!), you know it is an Anderson film almost instantly. Now, this may seem like a far reach for sales reps working in newspaper ad departments, but Anderson’s movies can teach us some helpful lessons when it comes to constructing and establishing a defined and recognizable brand.

On May 8, 2012, we listened to a webcast from The Advertising Research Foundation (The ARF). This webcast, titled “Digital Influence on Purchase Decisions,” examined the ways consumers go through the buying process, and how digital innovations can accommodate and influence this process. The ARF discussed three major states that play into the consumer’s purchasing process: the consumer is always on, the consumer is emotional and the consumer is everywhere. While digital implementation can accommodate these states, it can also improve the buying process for consumers by taking into account things that they want and also things they may not know they want. 

It’s no secret that newspaper classified sales have taken huge hits since the creation and popularization of Craigslist, but it’s time to reclaim your territory! One-up Craigslist and learn to beat them at their own game. For years the mentality at conferences, and even here, has been “if you can’t beat ‘em, join em,” advising you to stop looking at them as a competitor and start using them to upsell your services to advertisers. But, I’m daring you to challenge that. While uploading advertising to Craigslist for your clients may bring in some of the lost revenue, it does nothing to rebuild the confidence in your product for your readers or advertisers, and it takes a large chunk of time per listing. I think it’s time classified advertising defies the previously perceived inevitable and brings large amounts of listings back to the newspaper.

People are more connected than ever. Phrases like “Facebook me” or “Tweet me” are now common parts of everyday language. This shift to technological communication scares newspapers, and rightfully so. If readers are now communicating and consuming their news by way of these websites, then it seems like a reasonable deduction that newspapers will suffer as a result. However, in a recent study conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, researchers found that there is still a large percentage of adults who not only read local news sources, but are also very invested in that news. Although you should be aware of the increasing success and popularity of social networks, don’t sell your newspaper short. Instead, focus on what many readers want: content and ads oriented toward their local community.

“I believe it’s important to talk in terms of a prospect’s interests,” Tim told me. “So I’m always looking for ways to translate the principles of advertising into examples that my advertisers can easily understand. Sometimes it’s a matter of using something from an advertiser’s business or hobby. Just look at it from their perspective.

As the election approaches, it’s important to think of the ways you can get your newspaper involved as community members prepare to practice their civil duty by voting and electing their representatives. However, when planning events or advertising during election season, it’s important to do so without being polarizing or partisan. Create engaging, but not divisive, events that offer locals an opportunity to become more involved in the election process. This will demonstrate your newspaper’s commitment to political awareness without picking sides, as well as an investment in your community. Below are a few examples of possible events your newspaper could organize for election season.

Any sales person worth their salt is aware of the process of selling products to the demographic groups most likely to use them. You market baby products to new moms and fruit snacks to kids. However, there are certain events in everyone’s lives that foster a need for a product that they may need or want, but have not considered using before. This is a perfect time to target these consumers, as they have not established brand loyalty, nor will TOMA have any influence on their decisions. 

Branding is an opportunity to define, distinguish and market yourself. Your brand showcases your skills, knowledge and professionalism. One of the most effective ways to create a strong brand is to establish yourself as an expert in your field —you want your clients to see you as the most knowledgeable sales rep in the area; your brand is a way to do that. In the first half of this two-part series, we discussed how your professional brand is an intersection between your personal identity and your company’s brand. For the second half, we’ll be exploring how to create, implement and maintain your brand, as well as ways to achieve and retain brand loyalty and awareness.

There’s been a lot of talk about branding in the business world, and it’s clear that branding is an essential component of a successful and rewarding career. For the sales rep, it’s vital to recognize the differences between your professional branding and the newspaper’s company brand. As a sales rep, you should know that your professional brand is formed by the intersection of your personal identity and the company’s image (think of the relationship between these three areas of branding as a Venn diagram personal identity and company branding are the two circles that overlap to help create the professional brand). By developing a strong professional brand, you can connect better with your clients and sell your products more efficiently, all while reinforcing your newspaper’s company brand. A sales rep’s professional brand is a way to deliver a strong first impression and display traits and skills to clients. Understanding the ins-and-outs of branding will help you in recognizing your client’s needs and help you help them with their branding advertisements.

One of the best concepts Jason Taylor from the Chattanooga Times Free Press told the America East Conference group in his “60 Ideas in 60 Minutes” was, “Circ is sales too.” Although this is not a groundbreaking concept, it did make us stop in out tracks and think for a bit. Many aspects of the newspaper industry involve sales, not just the ad department, so why are we so dead set on being insular? Maybe one of the best ways to produce some positive change in our industry is to start working with other departments to hone the skills that we hold most valuable. 

In order to be a successful newspaper sales representative, it’s incredibly important to be aware of your relationship with your customers. Are they happy? Are they dissatisfied? Why or why not? It’s essential to create a strong foundation to build from, and then continue to develop it as long as they’re doing business with your ad department. Even if a customer decides to part ways, it’s critical that you learn why, and then take that knowledge to strengthen relationships with future clients. One of the goals of your position is to create customer loyalty — to make a customer happy enough with your product and service that they will continue to do business with you. By placing importance on building and maintaining customer relationships and loyalty, you increase the likelihood of new leads and clients. On the other hand, if customers are left unattended, it will instead give your ad department a bad reputation that will follow you everywhere you go.

Social media is here to stay and it’s time to join the party. A strategic and mindful approach to social media can allow you to reach your audience in new, more personable ways, maintain the business you currently have and, ideally, branch out and make new connections. Creating a strategic social media plan may sound like a difficult task, but it’s not as hard as you may think.

For a while now we have been urging you to lay down your arms against your editorial department, and begin cooperating on one united front to save your paper. This is a hard task to accomplish, as individual departments all work hard to meet their own unique demands, and often feel as though other departments don’t understand the pressures single departments face. This scenario, not unique to newspapers, is commonplace in almost all institutions and organizations. It is unique, however, when institutions become more cohesive in order to contribute to the vested interests of the institution as a whole. 

As a newspaper sales rep, you must always look for new networking opportunities to widen your pool of contacts. Broaden the spectrum of people you could possibly call upon in the future by joining a local professional organization or group. Attending meetings or even working your way up the ranks is a great way to build relationships with possible advertisers that you may not have otherwise met. We’ve provided a few tips to make the most of participating in a professional club. 

When it comes to newspaper advertising, you may think the goal is to reach as many readers as possible, and you wouldn’t be entirely wrong, either. Of course, you want to create an effective ad campaign that persuades readers to buy that particular product or service, and frankly, the more the merrier. However, there is an argument to be had for niche marketing. An ad campaign that focuses on a select group of people with a common bond may be, in the end, more effective than ads directed toward the masses.

Sales enablement is a relatively new concept, and its definition has prompted much debated. Is it a role, a function within a company, or is it a task? While it may appear as though sales enablement is a task performed by a sales manager, it is actually a company-wide organizational process that must be well crafted in order to be successful.

There’s no doubt about it, personal branding is key if you want to succeed in newspaper sales. However, it seems lately that everyone is coming up with a list of cookie cutter rules on how to brand yourself. Who says these rules are the end-all-be-all? In fact, some have argued that these rules were made to be broken. Below, we have gathered a few traditional personal branding rules and then suggest how breaking them may actually be to your advantage.

The art of “picking up” is a strategy for luring a potential fling that balances aloof comments with kind ones. While the pickup is a sales strategy in itself — the artist is selling himself in order to establish his value to another person — professional sales people rarely use these strategies to establish their or their product’s value to their customers. The art of picking up may be described as a little sleazy, and establishing value with another human being is generally thought to be most effectively done honestly and over time, you can’t deny that the pickup artist gets results with his own brand of sales techniques. 

The 2012 America East Conference was jam packed with helpful presentations and even more excited presenters, eager to talk with us about how to implement great ideas in local newspapers nationwide. One of these sessions, “60 Ideas in 60 Minutes,” presented by Jason Taylor of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, managed to fit some really meaty concepts in a short 60-minute time frame. Taylor’s ideas ranged from how to make changes in your own departments to how to encourage advertisers to purchase special sections space. 

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.

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.


Ad agency legend David Ogilvy once wrote, "Advertising is a business of words." The same can be said for selling. The right word can make a sale, and the wrong word can lose a sale. 

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.