Here’s how a CVC audit can boost your ad sales

No ad sale begins until you hear the first objection. Have you heard any of these?

  • •I don’t think you have as much circulation as you say
  • •I don’t think that people who read your paper are the type who shop at my store
  • •Nobody reads newspapers any more
  • •People read newspapers for news, not for shopping information

You probably have heard one or more of these before and have your own way of answering them. Sometimes your answers work but what if you have definitive proof to rebut those objections? You will if your paper is audited by a respected third party such as Circulation Verification Council.

The Circulation Verification Council is an independent, third-party reporting audit company. CVC audits thousands of editions nationwide with a combined circulation of more than 55 million. Their audits cover printing, distribution, circulation, websites, digital editions, mobile, email, social media and readership studies to give an accurate picture of a publication’s reach and market penetration.

Your audience is what you have to sell.  CVC research data provides insight about the quantity of circulation you have, but also supplies the demographics of your readers, and in my mind the most important,  buying plans of your readers during the next 12 months.  Think about that for a minute. CVC audits can tell you how many readers you have in every demographic and what they plan to purchase in the next year.

Here is how you might use that in sales. Let’s say you have circulation of 5,000 weekly. An average paper’s audit might show that you have 1.75 readers per copy or 8,750 adult readers. The report will tell you what those readers plan to buy. One example might be, 12 percent plan to buy a new car in the next 12 months. The math says that that means that the readers of your paper will purchase 1,050 new cars (8,750 X .12 = 1,050). If the average new car purchase is $28,000 then your readers plan to spend (1,050 X $28,000) nearly $30 million on new cars. Imagine what that information in front of that car dealer you have been trying to sell might do to show the value of your readers.

Similar data is available for 37 categories, including appliances, lawnmowers, restaurants and many other categories. Shopping habits of your readers can become the biggest assist in building sales that you can have. Talk to my friend Tim Bingaman, president and CEO of Circulation Verification Council. He can explain better than I about the process, the small fee to be audited and the training they provide after the audit is complete. Reach Tim at [email protected] or 800-262-6392. Never fear those objections again.

Advertisng Community Journalism

What you’re missing when you try to sell ads to national chains

You’ve tried to sell advertising to the manager of the store that’s a part of a national or regional chain.

And you’ve been told, “I don’t make those advertising decisions here.  I’ll give you the contact information for our regional office.”  You emailed and you called, but you either got no reply at all or were told that the store’s advertising commitments had already been made.

So you’re left wondering:  What do I have to do to get agencies and major accounts to pay more attention to my paper, here in small-town Texas? 

The good-news answer is this:  It is possible. But you need to have a presence on Standard Rate and Data Service, published by Kantar Media. It is simply the Media Buyers’ Bible.

Publishers listed in get daily visibility with active media buyers and planners. Advertisers have for years wanted to reach local markets that are connected to their community. Thanks to third party data (like the info in Circulation Verification Council readership studies), media planners are more comfortable than ever working with community publications.

How do publishers in small markets tell their story at the right time to the right person on the other side of the country? Successful ones make sure their info on SRDS is accurate and up to date. When you make it easy for a media buyer to find you, only good things can happen.

How do you get your paper listed in SRDS? First, you might want to have a look at what the data shows for a buyer interested in your market. I recommend my good friend David Crawford at Kantar media. [email protected] will get you started. He can give you login credentials to view the database and answer your questions. He can also send you the form to fill in your info to submit to SRDS and that will get your listing live.

When viewing the data for your market, you will discover that some media seem to be ranked higher (and are therefore more visible than others).  A paper that is audited by Circulation Verification Council (CVC) gets that added benefit because CVC automatically submits data to SRDS when the audit is completed and they purchase that elevated listing. For CVC info contact [email protected]

More on CVC in an upcoming blogpost.  But for now, look into an SRDS listing.  It’s free, and it’s the only way to get noticed by national media buyers.


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.


How to approach advertisers who may be uncomfortable with advertising on your Web product


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!


Newspapers ads still send consumers to the store

Here’s a statistic to share with your advertisers: Newspapers are still the main medium that influences the buying decisions of 59% of adults. That’s according to data released by NAA, which contain a wealth of interesting stats about how newspapers readers are affected by advertising. The first link, to MediaPost, has some analysis with the highlights of the data. The second link is to a news release on NAA’s site with the numbers.