Seeing yourself as a coach for your ad staff

“How am I doing?”

Remember those moments earlier in your life when you may have asked that question or a similar one of a teacher, friend, or confidant? In many instances, those questions were being asked to open a dialogue, and gather some outside information to confirm that your assessment of your current situation was accurate.

In these tough economic times, are you being asked these same questions today by your staff? Do you model and encourage your staff to ASK (Always Seeking Knowledge)? How are they doing, coach?

Coaching conversations with your staff help develop teamwork. Fostering an “asking” rather than “telling” environment will give support and encouragement to your team.

Coaching is not talking to your staff.  It’s a two-way dialogue looking at performance, identifying performance obstacles or problems, and developing solutions and action steps.

Coaching helps to clarify goals and priorities.  It minimizes misunderstandings and builds teamwork through involvement in planning, problem solving, and increased responsibilities. And it develops creativity and innovation while enhancing productivity.

Everyone – veterans and rookies alike –benefits from coaching as you open a dialogue that involves three action components: listening, asking and feedback.

Preliminaries are typically icebreaker in nature and help to put individuals at ease. They also open the conversation to a give-and-take by identifying the reason or goal for the meeting.

Probing asking works to narrow the focus, review the situation, identify the problem and its potential impacts. It elicits input and ideas and encourages staff to develop, innovate and review various solutions.

Feedback helps clarify new learning, develop and gain consensus on needed action steps and reinforce support of the plan.

Coaching calls for personal contact.  The newspaper business is time demanding, and our personal contact with the staff can suffer – but it’s vital to good management.

Personal contact conveys a sense of importance and a sense of identity (“Congratulations on your sale to……..”) It gives us the chance for positive reinforcement and individual motivation.

Coaching affords you the opportunity to listen, and foster an atmosphere of open communication. Your people are not the only ones to benefit from coaching — you also get the benefit of free information that helps build your team.

Coaching gives your people a regular barometer on their progress, and in some cases, may break their job into various components for reflection, review, revision, and growth. Most importantly, it gives emotional support and reinforces the importance of the individual to both you your team.

As the coach, you are the leader. Your staff watches how you work with each team member and the team as a whole. When you see yourself as a coach, you are teaching your add staff to coach their clients – to get to know them, to understand their problems, and to design ad campaign that meet their needs and build their businesses.  Consultative selling is built on a coaching philosophy – and we can hardly ask our staff to adopt that methodology if we aren’t using it with them.


Study says 2/3 of residents read local newspaper

Once again, both a National Newspaper Association study and a Newspaper Association of America study recently released reinforce the continued strength and vitality of newspapers and newspaper websites, whether community, weekly, or daily.

In the newly released NNA study (conducted in September and November 2013), two – thirds of community residents in small towns and cities read their local newspaper at least once and up to seven times a week!

Almost five out of ten (47 percent) residents indicated that their community’s newspaper and newspaper website were their preferred or primary source of information. About 78 percent of adults are quite attached to following local news and information, and local newspapers are by far the source they rely on for much of the local information they need, reinforcing the perceived value and strengths of local newspapers as a community asset.

Throughout their community, local newspapers are shared and passed along with an average pass along rate of 2.48 — up from previous years’ studies. Likewise, 54 percent of readers have clipped a newspaper story or shared a link with someone else in their community. And 49 percent of a community’s online users would choose their newspaper’s website as their favored source of information for local news — almost twice as many as the next identified local media source.

Complementing the NNA findings, the NAA found that 56 percent of Millennial, those young adults age 18 to 34, still want newspaper media content in a typical week, in print or online.

Newspapers and newspaper web sites are the “value collection” — a content combination of local news and advertising, interacting with the community in a timely manner, with a unique, trusted and well-established brand that delivers identifiable and measurable results day after day or week after week.

Why? Because newspapers, whether in print or online, have a distinct local audience that trusts them. 

Loyalty is print's strongest selling point. People choose to spend dedicated, uninterrupted time focused on your newspaper. 

It is all about the quality of the audience. Our newspaper web site visitors are loyal and interactive returning to their newspaper web site several times per day. Newspaper web site visitors continue spending more and more time on your newspaper web site rather than as eyeballs darting around the Internet!

Newspapers’ web sites, much like their print products, deliver original, high-quality content that continually attracts a highly educated audience, building a powerful and engaged audience.

Who typically has the largest Internet media footprint in a community and in the local marketplace? You do! 

Through a local environment of news and advertising, your newspaper and your newspaper web site create the marketplace for your community.

Newspapers are still the one! Does everyone at your newspaper know? Do your friends, community associates, advertisers and potential advertisers know? Let’s not be the best-kept secret in our community.


I’m moving from my sales job to a management job. What do I need to know?

Question: I am leaving my current sales position to move across the state and join a larger weekly newspaper in a sales management position. This is my first management job. I was very successful selling, but have always wanted to move into management. My staff will consist of four salespeople with limited experience. What things should I consider as a new manager, any tips to help me get started?

Answer: First of all, congratulations on your new adventure!

It sounds like you enjoyed selling and, in all likelihood, your publisher and others at your current paper have told you that you are good at what you do.

Now, as many new managers do, you are beginning to wonder if you will be as good and as successful in managing as you were in sales. When you were selling, you felt very competent and confident, even when business was tough to get. But now you are moving on to a new challenge and you’re somewhat unsure about just what it is that management entails.

In the past, your independence, attention to detail, strong organizational skills,a perfectionist streak, and the ability to get it done (in most cases by yourself!) have served you well.

However, your movement from one who does to one who manages is going to require a willingness to change, a focus on energy, and a steady and dependable perseverance.

Regardless of the size of your new paper, the management team, or your newly assigned staff, the following recommendations will serve you well in your personal and professional growth in becoming an effective and respected manager and leader.

Move off the field, into the dugout. You’re no longer a player or a doer; you are now the coach. Let go and coach your new staff. Develop a strong ability to communicate ideas and views so others will understand and accept them. Encourage initiative, while minimizing staff frustration.

Listen. Of all the sources of information to help you know, understand, and evaluate the abilities and personalities of each of your staff, listening to individuals is the most important. Much like when you were selling, there were times to sell and times to ask questions and listen. Remember, too, that to be a good listener you should always strive to be objective. Good listening skills are paramount to looking for ways to improve productivity, identify and solve problems, plus develop your people. “Nothing I say today will teach me anything; if I am going to learn something today, I need to LISTEN!”

Embrace conflict. Conflict or complaints from your staff members and others about fellow employees or systems or procedural requirements are going to happen. Be prepared to handle the conflict fairly, positively,and in a timely fashion. Work to have all parties involved focus on the issues at hand rather than the personalities in the disagreement. Listen, and listen again!

Start strong. Don’t be easy, unsure, or misdirected. Communicate your expectations, particularly in this challenging economic environment. When an employee or group of employees does not meet them, a casual reminder (…our workday is 8 to 5) rather than discipline may be all that it takes. However, when discipline is warranted, don’t hesitate to step up. As a collegiate soccer referee, I learned long ago that if a referee does not enforce the laws of the game, those players who were wronged would begin defending themselves. Discipline sets the parameters and it confirms who is in charge and keeps everyone on track.

The more you are successful, the louder your critics will be. Expect people to disagree with you. Be willing to defend what you believe is right and be flexible enough to know when to compromise.

Goals, expectations, dreams. Begin developing, outlining, and communicating your goals and expectations (and those of the paper, too) to your staff and others. Double check that they are S.M.A.R.T. Specific, measurable, agreed upon (in the company, or among the staff), realistic, and time-sensitive.

Assess and enhance your resources. Both your people and your physical resources. Observe, understand, and decide when it is best to utilize your staff’s strengths, as individuals or as a group. Be sure you have thought through both individual and group reaction to your ideas or goals, or any changes in policies.

Plan, plan, plan. Plan your work and work your plan. Assign activities and assign responsibilities and continually seek feedback. Many staffer members, when asked, will say that they want their new manager to succeed as their leader. Usually they will also say that they are going to be sure she earns it! Management is a challenge. It is also hard work. Though the rewards are usually hard-earned, they are well-deserved.

Have fun … and good luck!


How to put together an ad sales pitch book

In this struggling economy, what strategies might you consider to enhance your likelihood for successful face-to-face meetings with advertisers? What should you bring along in addition to a copy of your newspaper and your newspaper’s website stats? Where would you turn? How would you gather the necessary information? Whom should you ask? What is available, both easily accessible and inexpensive?

Many of us have asked ourselves these questions during our selling and sales management careers. In my case, it was during my tenure at a small northern Illinois daily just after college. For you it might be the daily r, weekly where you work.  No matter what the circulation size or frequency of your newspaper, having an out-of-date, inadequate, or nonexistent pitch book can be both frustrating and discouraging to your sales efforts.

What’s a pitch book? 

 It is all the necessary information you need to help potential advertisers visualize why they should invest ad dollars (… new and additional revenue!) in your newspaper or website.

A pitch book is not a rate card.  It is more than that!  A pitch book ideally is a binder that contains information on your market, your newspaper, your competition, plus additional data you need to tell and sell your newspaper's story.

Developing a pitch book, even the most fundamental one, does not have to be a formidable, time consuming or expensive task.  It is possible even if you are at a newspaper that has limited research resources, both human and financial.

Let's consider for a moment building your own bare bones pitch book.  It may be bare bones initially, but as you use it, adding to and subtracting from, it will become a well-used and trusted ally in your progress toward sales success.

How, you ask, will you be able to develop a pitch book with limited or no research resources?  It's easy, and it can be fun.  It will teach you more about your market, your newspaper, and your competition.

First, you will need to refocus those selling skills and do a little bit of investigative work. Ask lots of questions.

But what are we going to investigate?  Available, and in some cases free, resources to develop more facts, data, and information about your market, your newspaper, and your competition in order to create, build, and refine your pitch book.

What resources?  Where?  Right there, in front of you.  Consider the following everyday sources of information:

For Market Information — The first, and possibly the best, resource may be your own newspaper.  Don't overlook any departments or personnel (advertising, editorial,circulation, newsroom, and senior management). Begin a reference file featuring photocopies of news stories about your market (its growth, changes, population, schools, new retailers/employers, demographics). Don't forget to tag each story with the newspaper's name and date of story. In addition, keep an eye out for feature stories about your market in other area newspapers, regional business journals, and even your competition!

Another resource is Realtors, both commercial and residential; Banks; Savings & Loans; Credit Unions — all of these businesses track their customer base and how it relates to your market and their business. Ask them if they will share the information with you, volunteer to share your information, and give appropriate credit for the information. New housing starts, average home price, new payroll dollars, growth in retail sales, available/spend able income dollars are all important to your potential advertisers and help sell your market, and your paper.

Also, local college/university/branch campus, libraries, and government sources, both national (Small Business Administration) and local (Chamber of Commerce, Grange, County Economic Development Council) — these are great sources for economic (Censusstatistics, population, age, income, educational information) and historical (your local town origin, county origin, reasons behind largest town social/economic event) data.  All of this information helps you paint the picture about your market and the people your newspaper serves.

Do not overlook checking and reviewing any and all of your local market’s websites, including your newspaper’s, your competitor’s (radio, television, yellow pages, direct mail, billboards) and other print niche publications.

For Newspaper Information— As with your search for market information, your first resources may be your newspaper and your newspaper’s website. Talk to everyone within your newspaper organization and search out any information regarding your newspaper's history, goals and mission, readership, unique visitors, and circulation. Strategically plan how you will use this information to tell your story to your potential advertisers. Begin writing your story, by using individual facts and data, demonstrating how your newspaper and your newspaper’s web site will bring your audience (the buyers) and your advertiser (the seller) together.

If your newspaper sources are limited and incomplete, reach out and ask your state press association for assistance. They are a wealth of information, perhaps not as much on your market, but on the state overall and the newspaper industry in particular.  Your state press association will have lots of resources available.  Whether it's current circulation trends, average readers per copy, who is reading newspapers, who visits newspaper websites, how well newspapers and their websites work or the emerging technology questions regarding the Internet — your newspaper association can help you.

In addition to your local press association, the Newspaper Association of America  and the National Newspaper Associationare repositories for the newspaper industry and related areas (couponing, retail sales trends, population shifts, newspaper readership, and new technologies). In Texas, the Centeris an easily accessible resource for you. Last but not least, network with other newspapers in your region or state to discuss what's new, what's available, what's working.

For Competitive Information— just ask.  To learn about your competition and what they are doing in your market, ask those advertisers, both existing and new, if they would share their competitive strategy (and information) with you. Call your competition, ask some questions, and request a rate card or media kit. You do not have to identify yourself, and if you are not asked you do not need to tell them who you are or why you are calling. Then again, if your competitor asks, and you identify yourself, what is the worst they can say?  No.

To learn about a particular medium (cable, radio, direct mail) call an out-of-market competitor, who will probably give you specific information on their station or mailing and broad based information on the media, radio or direct mail, which you can use.

Keep looking for new resources.  Keep updating your pitch book.  It's your pitch book.  Make it work for you.  It will help you become the resource your advertisers turn to first when they need information and, in the process, build your confidence and belief in yourself, newspapers, your newspaper and its website.

Have fun and good luck!


How can I convince people to advertise when business is bad?

Question:The national news says the recession is over, but obviously a lot of my advertisers haven’t heard about it.  They are asking, “Why advertise when business is bad?”  What can I tell them?

Answer: The recession may have “officially” ended, but the recovery is slow and shoppers are cautious.  Business is tough to get.

Here’s what we have to keep telling retailers, service providers, professional businesses and companies:  You have to maintain or increase your advertising spending during a challenging economic environment if you want get ahead.

Here’s the mantra we must keep repeating:  Business isn’t bad – it’s tough to get. You can actually increase your market share in down economic times if you take an assertive, well-thought-out, consistent and ongoing advertising program.

A reduction in advertising expenditures guarantees reduced profits, sales and lost market share due, in part, to three significant impacts:

  1. Loss of top-of-mind awareness.
  2. Loss of image in the marketplace and local community.
  3. A change in perceptions held about the retailer, service provider, professional business or company.

Why should you counsel your advertisers to continue to advertise in a slowly recovering economy? To be successful — to grow and to survive — businesses need to have a constant presence in the marketplace. Customers have to know who the business is and what they do. And in today’s world, that awareness typically comes through advertising.

What strategy might you suggest to assist your client in seizing the opportunity presented by a recovering economy?  Try these:

  • Stress benefits and talk value. Stress benefits and values, rather than just price, in your advertising message thereby reducing buying risk for your customers and potential customers.
  • Capitalize on local awareness and familiarity. Your readers and advertisers and their customers should be familiar with your local businesses through past advertising campaigns. Leverage that awareness and familiarity to reduce buying reluctance while reinforcing the advantages of safety and security in shopping locally. The best advice and the best value … always come from someone you KNOW!
  • Maximize competitive advantages. Help your advertisers seize the moment when their competitors may be cutting back or eliminating their advertising, by identifying and articulating what separates and makes them unique or different from others.
  • It’s all about the long term.Coach your advertisers to implement the plan and preparation you helped them put in place when the business decline first began. With the economic certainty improving, remind them to continue looking to and designing the future, rather than seeking to reinvent the past!
  • Don’t sell an ad – sell ideas and campaigns. Talk to advertisers about investing in a series of ads, within a timeframe, with a set aside or allocated budget, to meet an identified need, problem or opportunity with a desired outcome — rather than placing one-time, single-shot ads or promotions.

Helping the retailers, service providers, professional businesses and companies in your community create a public awareness of who they are and what they do promotes growth for your community, your retailer and your newspaper, both in print and online. 

Online advertising

I’m finding it harder and harder to continue to feel like I am growing in my selling for my paper. I’m stuck. Do you have any tips or ideas that might help me?

Question:  In today’s tough economic environment, I'm finding it harder and harder to continue to feel like I am growing in my selling for my paper. I'm stuck. I recognize the importance of developing a strong skill set and fostering a positive can do attitude. But some days it's more like drudgery. Do you have any tips or ideas that might help me? Thank you.

Thanks for your question. As you go forward, consider the process of growth to be an adventure, a journey or an opportunity to learn and practice different techniques and strategies As you begin, let yourself enjoy the journey, have some FUN, allow yourself to stumble now and again, but, most of all, stick with it … the longer the better and the better you’ll get!

Here are some guideposts to help you along the way…

Relax. Challenge yourself and strive to be the best of the best, but recognize that anxiety is common and is brought on by fear of failure. Overcome this fear by taking action, moving forward a step at a time and remembering — when you are uncomfortable, you are growing!

Be Patient with Yourself. Don’t be too critical and don’t give up if your first efforts did not achieve what you had hoped for. Judge your skill acquisition in terms of its continuing improvement, looking for progress not perfection. Michelangelo, when asked about the source of his genius, replied, "Genius is patience."

One Step at a Time. Learn one new skill rather than tackling everything at once. It’s not how many steps.  It’s the direction you are headed that counts most. Tackle smaller revenue accounts first, then as you gain experience and confidence (which comes through doing), broaden your account development moving to regional, majors or larger revenue accounts. It’s better to approach smaller accounts and succeed, and be encouraged to continue, than to approach larger accounts, fail and be discouraged and tempted not to continue.

Start With Questions. It's ALL about questions. Don't tell to sell.  Ask potential accounts questions about themselves, their business, their customers, their goals. Questions help people open up, they demand answers – and they put YOU in control … in addition to giving you valuable information.

Remember: Nothing I say today will teach me anything; if I am going to learn

Something today I need to listen!

NO’s!  Understand them and use them to your advantage. When a potential account tells you no, be sure you understand, through questioning, what prompted the no. As for you, guard your time, today and tomorrow, by giving yourself permission to tell yourself and other no, so your valuable time is not carelessly given away.

Accept Your Mistakes. When things do not go the way you had hoped or planned, pause for a moment and ask yourself these two questions: “What did I do right?” and “If all things were the same, what would I do differently the next time?” To incorporate your mistakes and to learn from them, simply go back to the point where you first slipped up and start again. Focus on designing the future, not redesigning on the past.

Use The Correct Tools. Whether it’s your newspaper, showing and investigating your newspaper web site with one of your advertisers, reviewing or updating some key information about your market or community (its growth, new employers, soon-to-arrive major retailers), clarifying your newspaper’s audience changes (both online and in print) or special section opportunities, use them and use them correctly to enhance and maximize your selling efforts and success.                    

Don’t rely only on your tools at hand. Invest in yourself with different experiences, looking for the teaching moment (asking questions), in continuing education and volunteer opportunities outside of your newspaper. Practice your newly acquired skills with friends and acquaintances, so they will become natural to you day in and day out.

Lighten Up.  Fear of failure may cause you to subconsciously push too hard, to “white knuckle” sell. Anticipate minor setbacks, have FUN and laugh at yourself. You can do it! You know you can! Be patient …  Good luck? It’s simply where preparation meets opportunity!

Don’t Overlook the Obvious.  Don’t go too far away from your existing accounts in search of the next new bigger account over the horizon. You may just lose your perception of that existing account and not realize that had you asked they would have happily said yes to larger and larger ad dollar expenditure with your newspaper.

Step Back.  Much like an artist, develop your depth perception and judgment. In other words, the longer your view, the smaller things become. Teach yourself to regularly and frequently to step back and look at the big picture, your overall account list or sales territory rather than always intently focusing on each and every account. Where are you going? What are you trying to achieve? What are you attempting to manage?  Asking yourself similar questions and pausing to take an overview will ensure that you do not stray very far before you realize you’re making a mistake or focusing on the wrong accounts or the wrong areas of opportunity.

Don’t forget, like some of the best symphonies, some of the best newspaper careers are unfinished! Enhancing your strengths and minimizing your weaknesses are a challenge. It is also hard work. But the rewards are usually hard- earned and well-deserved.

If you expect the best, you’ll get the best! Have fun … and good luck!


Convincing advertisers newspapers work is difficult, but not impossible

“We tried newspapers. They don’t work!”

“We tried your newspaper. It didn’t work!”

“I tried advertising on your newspaper’s web site a few years ago and really didn't get any new business from it.”

You have probably heard the above refrains — not once, not twice, but a few times too many. How do you answer these objections?  They are tough to overcome … but not impossible! 

Consider this strategy:

First and foremost, acknowledge that you have heard your potential advertiser’s objection … show some empathy!  Remember, too, that objections are not problems. They are opportunities to excel!

After acknowledging that you have heard them, resist going on the defensive. Rather, ask this simple question: How do you know? In most cases, retailers, service providers or small businesses simply don’t know whether their advertising has worked, in terms of generating sales results, regardless of the investment cost or its nature.

As you know, many reasons could contribute to a less-than-successful ad or promotional effort: An initial error in identifying the target audience which, in turn, may have lead to incorrect media selection; poor merchandise or sale offered; weather; poorly designed ad copy.  Also, the retailer may believe but cannot confirm poor performance or the ad tracking results may not be available. Or there may have been poor positioning on the newspaper’s web site.  Or a better competitive offer from some other retailer offered at the same time. It is not always possible to review a past unsuccessful advertising investment and determine the reasons it was not a success.

Inasmuch as many small businesses may not know how to effectively determine whether their advertising investment generated results or not, you have an opportunity for a teachable moment and an opportunity to build your integrity and relationship with your potential client.

Help your current and potential advertisers understand the value of tracking their advertising investment and its effectiveness – the results of the ad. Tracking results helps to identify which media best reach their target audience, which product or service promotion yields the best results, and when is the best timing (daily, weekly or monthly) for ad placement.

A relatively easy method is to track revenue changes. Two weeks prior to scheduling the first ad in an advertising campaign, the retailer should review total revenue for the entire store in a given time period (e.g. each day). The retailer should then monitor total revenue during the advertising campaign (e.g. while the ads are running).  And finally, the retailer should analyze total revenue for the entire store in the same given time period (e.g. each day) two weeks after the ad campaign is completed. In addition to tracking revenue, number of transactions, overall inventory changes and changes in advertised inventory are additional means of tracking ad effectiveness in a similar manner.

Ask your potential advertisers for a couple of minutes to allow you help them to map out the future rather than redesigning the past! Explore with your potential client some strategic initiatives (where are you now? what do you want to move away from? what do you want to move to?) by asking questions … and more questions (how do they plan to grow their business, describe your best customer, etc.).

Once you have clarified your potential advertiser’s goals and introduced a tracking method, begin rebuilding the value of newspaper products and your newspaper’s various products. Who reads newspapers? Who reads your newspaper or visits your newspaper’s web site? Back up your value statements with proof positive — testimonials, both from your readers and your advertisers.

Walk your prospect through your newspaper, pointing out some successful and campaign-orientated advertisers. Let them hold your newspaper and watch how they interact with it. What do they like or dislike about it?

Visit your newspaper’s web site. Point out its everyday strengths and ongoing resources (breaking news, local and current reference tools, obits, community information and events). Then just listen. “Nothing I say today will teach me anything. If I am going to learn anything I need to listen!” What valuable feedback is being shared with you? What short term and long term potential exists based on this new client information?

Last but not least, always encourage your current and potential advertisers to invest in an advertising campaign. A single, one-time promotion or ad puts your newspaper franchise and you at risk and, more importantly, wastes your advertisers’ ad dollars and time.

One-time coupons to track response should be refused! Again, don’t put your newspaper franchise and you at risk. Coupons are a promotional vehicle.  They also bring in a less profitable customer for your advertiser.  

Once you have acknowledged your prospect’s objection, outlined the benefits of tracking their advertising investment response and rebuilt your newspaper product’s value, then demonstrate proof-positive — offer a different point of view or a solution or a proposal and close the sale.  Ask for the business!

Advertising campaigns + Methods to track their effectiveness (Results) = Advertiser success (Growth) and ongoing investment in you and your newspaper products.

Ask an Expert Questions and Answers

What do I tell people who say “Advertising doesn’t work”?

Question– Our folks in this town always want to run an ad for one week and expect people to beat their door down. Also, I hear "advertising doesn't work" all the time from many businesses. I am armed with some counter responses, but can you could briefly give me a few extra ideas I could use?

Answer: Before I answer your question, allow me to reiterate some points that will frame my answer for you. As you may know, many of these points I have discussed and outlined in depth during my past TCCJ visits and workshops.

When business is tough to get, it’s very easy for small businesses to look for a quick fix to their sales slowdown. In responding to their anxieties (and fears?), don’t forget that part of your selling job is also educational in nature. It’s important to remind and teach your advertisers and potential advertisers some key marketing and advertising strategies to be successful, particularly in these challenging economic times.

First and foremost, teach your small retailer/service provider/business that they need to maintain a constant awareness in their marketplace (e.g., your community) of “who they are” and “what they do.” This can NOT be achieved with a one-time ad or coupon. A consistent marketing strategy is the only strategy to achieve long-term success and growth.

When you are meeting with your client, carefully outline the strategy and benefits of an advertising campaign (e.g. a series of ads, within a timeframe, with a fixed or allocated budget, to meet an identified need, problem or opportunity, with a desired outcome).

Remind your client that an advertising campaign is an investment in their business. To drive home this point, you should no longer accept one-time ads.  Tell your client that one-time ads are an unproven expense (e.g., your clients are correct.  One-time advertising does not work!), but an advertising campaign is a long-term investment that will generate results for their business.

Once your client understands and accepts this advertising and marketing strategy, you should clarify two points before the campaign begins:  Clients should have a clear understanding of how their business will support the campaign and what are their expectations of the advertising campaign.

Encourage your clients to explore a number of options they can do to support the campaign. Suggest they prominently display signs, brochures and reminders throughout their store or office that ties into their print and online advertising campaign.

Recommend they consider ordering more of the advertised merchandise (sizes, colors, styles), strategize with them about relocating a merchandise display to a prime location in their store, and last but not least, be sure you coach them about the importance of telling and teaching their employees about the campaign and the best way to maximize selling opportunities when they are face to face with a potential customer.

In regard to expectations, your client may take 1 percent of your newspaper’s audience (print and outline) or readership figures (Remember it’s all about audience, not circulation numbers. Numbers buy nothing!) and tell you that’s what they expect in their place of business the day of and a few days after their advertising campaign.

It’s at this time, when they are outlining their expectations, that you will have a teachable moment! Acknowledge that you heard your client’s expectations and share with them that they may be a little optimistic for immediate results for a long term advertising investment.

Begin your teachable moment by reminding your client that there are a very small number of buyers in the market at any one time. Buyers come in and go out of the marketplace when they plan purchases, make unplanned purchases or postpone purchases.

When your clients begin their advertising campaign, reinforce again and again that the campaign is accomplishing a number of benefits to their business that may not be readily noticeable or produce immediate sales.

Yes, advertising offers a service or product for sale to buyers in the marketplace at that time. But that same advertising also builds “top-of-mind awareness” for their business or service. When an individual becomes a buyer in the future, this “top-of-mind awareness” will be recalled by the potential buyer because of that ad campaign.  That potential buyer then has a higher likelihood a becoming a customer of your client’s business.

In addition to immediate sales and building top-of-mind awareness, the same advertising campaign reinforces past purchases and buyer decisions of current and past customers, encouraging them to visit your client’s business or service again.

Two more benefits of the same advertising campaign should be discussed with your client. Review other ads in your paper or on your newspaper’s web site and show that other businesses’ advertising campaigns talk to the community, show their support of the community, and demonstrate their commitment to the community. Your clients will accomplish the same with their advertising campaign.

Their campaign also allows your client to talk to her current employees, who see the advertising campaign and share it with others (“I work there, it’s a great place!”) and future employees (“I see their ads all the time, they have some great merchandise. I would love to work there!”).

Late next week on my TCCJ blog I will post some methods you can utilize to teach your advertisers, retailers, service providers and small business to track their advertising and measure its results.

In closing, remember that when business is tough to get, anxieties build. They build for your advertisers and potential advertisers (e.g., sales) and they build for you (e.g., revenue for you and your newspaper).

Minimize those anxieties of both parties by acknowledging that a major component of your selling experience is educating your existing and potential clients. The more they know about the strategic opportunities your newspaper products offer for their business or service, the more successful they can be in their print and online advertising.

The more you know about an advertiser’s or potential advertiser’s business or service, the more you can assist them in being successful.

Be patient.  Ask for their business when the best opportunity presents itself. But remember that you must present yourself as a business consultant to them, not an ad salesperson for your newspaper.  Your job is to make them successful – to make money for your clients by helping them implement a well-thought-out, clearly defined advertising campaign.

You can do this … you know you can! Good luck and have fun!


Finding ad dollars when none seem to exist

In today’s struggling retail environment, garnering advertising dollars, whether online, in paper, special sections or niche publications continues to be an ongoing challenge.

Coupled with the evolving and changing advertising media (Consider the Internet’s impact on other media!), the media choices for many retailers may, at times, be overwhelming.

“No money to advertise!” Simply stated, this is an all-too-frequent objection refrain from a potential advertiser.

However, when business is tough to get and the retail or service provider sector continues to be challenging, “No money to advertise!” may be reality, from the potential advertiser’s point of view, rather than an objection.

When a small business owner feels (rather strongly) that she has no money to advertise, your selling opportunity shifts from one of overcoming an objection to one of education. To secure any ad dollars for your newspaper, you must first help her understand where to look and where to find dollars that may be utilized to invest in her business through advertising and promotion.

Within her business and without increasing her budget or without additional cash input, ad dollars do exist to invest in her business. Here are six areas to consider in your search for those elusive ad dollars:

  • Explore reducing overall salary expense, by reviewing her business’ hours of operation. Opening an hour later or closing an hour earlier without impacting customer service or revenue generates 20 hours (one hour/day x 20 days) of saved expense that may be converted to a $200/month ad budget (20 hours x $10/hour in payroll expense).
  • Bring her vendors and suppliers into the conversation. Inquire from each and every business that she does business with, if co-op advertising or extra promotional dollars exist to support their product placement in her business. Leverage enhanced product placement in her store or in her ads for those vendors willing to contribute to the promotion of their product or service.
  • Review her current inventory and purchasing habits and controls. Is it possible to tighten her inventory without impacting customer service or revenue, and shift those savings into an ad dollar investment?
  • Take a look at helping her initiate a joint neighborhood marketing effort. Inquire locally at the Chamber of Commerce or other city agencies to see if neighborhood promotional dollars or marketing opportunities are available for the asking. This strategy may also open the door for additional and new advertisers for you.
  • Challenge her to review her own remuneration schedule (e.g. her salary!). Remind her that a small reduction in her personal income this year make reap big benefits for her business and subsequently to her next year and down the road!
  • Last, but not least, help her clarify where her business dollars are going in support of her local community. Do some services or charities or groups duplicate others? Would a realignment of her dollar commitments maximize results while better allocating those funds?

“No money to advertise!” may simply be a challenge offered to you by an advertiser to find the money! Good luck and have fun!


Simple formula can help publishers develop annual ad revenue forecast

As the year rapidly comes to a close, many publishers, GM’s and ad directors at community newspapers are putting the final touches on their 2011 ad revenue and budget forecasts.  And undertaking the forecasting endeavor can be a challenging, even frustrating process at times.

Over the years, I have developed a quick and easy template that helps develop ad revenue goals which then flow easily into an overall annual ad revenue and budget forecast.

Using the following formula to double-check or create an advertising revenue and budget forecast will save lots of time and effort while motivating sales teams and serving as a compass when navigating a tough economic environment.

Ad revenue goals, whether monthly and/or quarterly and/or annually, are all developed at the same time that annual ad revenue and budget goals are developed. In other words, 12 monthly 2011 individual monthly ad revenue goals for each territory or account list actually flow into the development of the total 2011 ad revenue goal (department wide) and ad budget.

For best results, a forecast is developed for every month in a given sales territory or account list. Additional items could be added or substituted (such as web page hosting revenue). Ad revenue goal revisions should and will take place over the course of the year due to market changes that may occur.

Ideally, each month is initially developed by the salesperson and subsequently reviewed and jointly agreed upon by salesperson and manager. The participation of the sales staff in this process helps motivate the staff, inasmuch as their input is included as part of setting goals for their territory or account list. Here's the formula:

Sample January 2011 Ad Goal Forecast for Downtown Territory

2010 January Actual ROP Ad Revenue:  $00,000

Anticipated '11 Ad Rate Increase + (plus) X%

2011 January Calendar Changes + (gain) Sunday. – (lose) Friday

Color, Commercial Printing, Online Revenue + (plus) $$$$

(e.g. Additional Non-ROP Ad Revenue)

January Special Sections

+ Community Resource Guide, Dollar Days + (plus) $$$$

Declines/Out of Business/Political – (minus) $$$$

Opportunities/New Businesses and/or Accounts + (plus) $$$$

Territory Growth Factor


2011 January Revenue Goal $00,000