What is in Your Tool Belt

What is in Your Tool Belt

By Dave Baragrey


Have you ever tried to pound a nail with a screwdriver? It doesn’t work very well. To pound a nail, you need a hammer. You can’t tighten a screw with a hammer (although I have tried). You can’t complete all the household repairs using the same tool. To get the job done properly, you must have an assortment of tools.


Most of us have been selling advertising so long that we sometimes overlook the obvious benefits we offer to advertisers. We are so close to the obvious that we often forget to use these basic tools for selling print advertising when talking to our prospective customers about advertising. Below are some basic tools I supplied my display advertising sales staff with.


Spec Ads – Provide a visual of what the ad is going to be. A spec ad provides your sales staff with some “thing” to sell instead of an abstract idea. A hard copy of the ad helps the advertiser visualize the results. I always found the most difficult part of providing spec ads to be convincing the sales staff to develop spec copy to create the ad. That process improved as they began to close some sales using spec ads. Following are some ideas to help create spec ads at your paper.

· Spec Artist - Many papers have had great success using a spec artist, whose position is solely preparing spec ads for prospective advertisers. They work directly with the sales staff as a team member. There are some obvious costs involved (payroll, work station w/software, scanner & printer, artwork) but the results are often well worth the investment.

· Art Service Mini-Books – This is included in your art services from Metro, Multi-Ad or Dynamic Graphics. These art services provide pages of almost completed ads using current artwork from their service. You can purchase extra mini-books for your sales staff to use for ad ideas to show their customers.

· Ad Idea Service – The favorite of our sales staff was Publishers Idea Exchange. This monthly idea service provides hundreds of ad ideas for various types of businesses. The service is inexpensive (my favorite part) and you can order enough copies for your entire sales staff to have with them while on the road.

· Paper Exchange – I love to steal great ad ideas from other papers from other areas. Our sales staff could walk into an advertiser and say, “I saw this ad, and I thought of you.”  Those are nice words to hear. Advertisers like to hear that you are on the lookout for good advertising ideas for them. One of my favorite ideas is to use the copier to enlarge ad ideas. Set the copier on enlarge mode to take the ad up a column width before taking it to the customer. Newsprint photocopies dark so you have to set the copier on light then enlarge a 3-column ad by 134% to make it a 4-column ad.


Co-op Advertising – Most papers qualify as eligible media for manufacturer co-op advertising funds. Local advertisers can receive half (or more) of their advertising expenditures reimbursed from manufacturers by meeting the requirements spelled out in their co-op guidelines. Often the requirements are extensive and this should be researched thoroughly before running the ads. Various research companies provide manufacturer co-op guidelines. My favorite is Multi-Ad’s ReCAS. They not only provide the information, they can also help your paper secure funds from manufacturers that are hard to get along with. Any co-op system requires dedication from the staff of the paper. This works best when you have dedicated staff to find available co-op funds and securing manufacturer artwork.


Circulation Audit – Having your paper’s circulation verified by an outside audit company gives credibility to your circulation claims. Many audit companies will provide readership studies and a market penetration analysis along with proof of your delivery statistics. This helps advertisers to understand the number of regular readers your paper has. Using this information in comparison to other media will reinforce the strength of your publication. The credibility factor an outside audit provides gives credence to your sales staff.


Demographics of Your Local Market – Use this information together with your circulation audit to help advertisers reach new market segments. It is useful information that can help your advertisers better target their advertising. The advertisers find this data interesting. This type of information also helps position your staff as industry experts. It gives them something informative to talk with customers about instead of just begging for an ad. Sales Marketing & Management magazine publishes the Survey of Buying Power each August. This annual report provides demographic data by county metro areas and media markets of effective buying income, population, retail sales by store group and more. This is a good general resource for demographic information for your local market. Of course, the Census Bureau also has lots of great info for free.


These are basic tools for selling advertising that we often overlook because they are so obvious to us. One of these may however be just the tool you need to close the sale from a new advertiser.


Here is a quote to remember:

"The most important things to say are those which often I did not think necessary for me to say -- because they were too obvious."
-Andre Gide, French writer, humanist


Dave Baragrey is a business consultant and sales trainer for Publishers-Edge, a Special Section syndicate for print and on-line special sections, and Consulting business specifically designed to help newspapers and shopping guides.

Websites – www.Publishers-Edge.com, www.Coupon-America.NET and www.SpecialSectionOnLine.com

E-mail dbaragrey@Publishers-Edge.com

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