Archive for the ‘advertising’ Category

Four great sales questions

By John Foust – As the old saying goes, “Knowledge is power.” In a sales context, the more you know about your prospects, the better you will be able to tailor your product – in this case, advertising – to their needs.

The best way to get information is to ask the right questions. Open-ended questions (which invite longer responses) are better than closed-ended questions (which invite yes/no or short answers). Let’s take a look at four of the most effective sales questions, listed here in no particular order.

1. What do you do that your competitors don’t do? Differentiation is at the heart of a marketing. What makes your prospect’s business different? What makes it stand out? What services or products can she provide that others can’t?

A clearly defined answer will result in targeted messaging. A vague answer will result in equally vague advertising – with weak response rates.

One of the key objectives in a sales dialogue is to help the advertiser identify relevant and specific reasons to buy (I call that RTB). Look for uniqueness that is relevant to the target audience.

2. What do you like best about your current marketing? The purpose of this question is to learn what your prospect likes best. The emphasis is on the positive. Does he like photos? Does he like weekly specials? What about web links? Or testimonials from happy customers? Or big sales events?

Of course, studying the current advertising will make it easy for you to sharpen the focus of this question. (“I notice that you use a lot of coupons. How does that work for you?”)

This information will give you some guidelines in preparing spec ads. As long as his Want List follows principles of effective advertising, you’ll be able to include many of his ideas in spec ad presentations.

3. What would you like to do differently in your marketing? This is where you help your prospect visualize a desired future state.

Along the way, she might voluntarily mention some things she would like to change. If not, this question will help you shift the conversation. (After all, if things are going perfectly right now, there’s no need for her to consider any changes.)

Note that it is phrased in a positive way. Instead of saying, “What do you not like?” ask, “What would you do differently?”

4. How would you describe your ideal customer? This is an area where many advertisers – especially the Mom and Pop businesses – try to cast a net that is too wide.

I once used a shoe store as an example in an ad seminar. When I asked, “What is your target audience?” someone suggested, “People who buy shoes.” Certainly, that is true. But the focus needs to be tighter, in order to bring customers to the store.

The purpose of this question is to identify a specific target audience. If you try to appeal to everybody, you’re appealing to nobody.

Help your advertisers think in specifics. You’ll sell more. And their ads will work better.


(c) Copyright 2013 by John Foust. All rights reserved.


John Foust has conducted training programs for thousands of newspaper advertising professionals. Many ad departments are using his training videos to save time and get quick results from in-house training. E-mail for information:

How Ad Placement Can Ruin Editorial

BuzzFeed Ad Disaster
Buzzfeed recently posted a great article about unfortunate (and hilarious) magazine and newspaper design faux pas. Titled, “28 Great Newspaper and Magazine Layout Disasters,” the errors ranged from typos to erroneous designs, however, we want to highlight those specifically dealing with advertising placement. As you’ll see, the Buzzfeed article illustrates the importance of strategically placing advertisements alongside editorial.

Misplacing editorial alongside advertising not only decreases the legitimacy of your article, it removes any persuasive power of the ad, which will cost you advertising revenue!

While it’s easy to lambast the staff for making an obvious oversight, such incidents can happen in the deadline-driven environment of magazine and newspaper publishing. So please read, laugh and learn from these great examples.

Increase your Relations with Newspaper Advertisers

Regular BCYCNA contributor John Faust has provided another stellar article about advertising. In this piece, Faust highlights the different avenues that a sales person can take to develop a stronger relationship with advertisers. Mandatory reading for anyone who deals with advertisers, Faust’s article nicely weighs the pros and cons of each method and ranks them according to impact.

Travis is an experienced sales person who works hard to develop and maintain rapport with his advertisers. “I believe it’s important to touch everyone in my client base on a regular basis,” he said. “Different situations call for different kinds of touches. If I need to advance a sale, it’s high-touch all the way. In other situations, a low-touch technique may work fine.”

This strategic approach makes a lot of sense. In descending order of impact, his top seven touches are (1) face-to-face, (2) phone call, (3) e-mail, (4) snail mail, (5) text messaging, (6) voice mail and (7) social media. Let’s take a closer look:

1. Face-to-face meeting. This ranks highest on the touch-scale. “For impact, you can’t beat an in-person conversation,” Travis said. “You’re in the same room talking about the same thing at the same time. This also gives you the opportunity to tour their business, see their products first hand, and meet employees.”

Context is important. A meeting to gather information, present campaign ideas or analyze ad results is more meaningful than a get-acquainted visit.

2. Voice-to-voice phone call. A phone conversation doesn’t provide the opportunity to read body language – which is an important part of communication. But it is next best thing to a face-to-face meeting.

“I’ve advanced a lot of sales in phone calls,” said Travis. “If you catch a client at a good time when they’re not in the middle of something else, they can be more relaxed than in a face-to-face appointment. The key is to be brief and get to the point quickly. Most business phone calls are short.

3. E-mail. According to Travis, “E-mail is a great tool when you need to create a communications trail, follow up on meetings or send personalized information. But it ranks low on the touch scale when you send e-mail blasts or cookie cutter messages.”

4. Snail mail. The more of yourself you invest in snail mail, the more effective the message. Form letters and direct mail pieces are not as personal – and don’t rate as highly – as handwritten notes or personal letters.

“It’s a shame that more sales people don’t send handwritten notes,” Travis said. “A handwritten note – especially a thank you note – is so rare that it is one of the most powerful communications tools in your arsenal.”

5. Text. In order for text messaging to work, there has to be an existing relationship with that particular client. Otherwise, it’s a wasted effort.

6. Voice mail. “If you’re returning a call or providing follow up information, voice mail is a good thing,” Travis explained, “because you’re responding to a specific request. But if you’re making cold calls, a voice mail message is likely to be deleted.”

7. Social media. This is at the bottom of Travis’ list. “If meaningful dialogue is the objective,” He asked, “how person-centered is a message that can be viewed by other people?”

It comes down to this: High touch equals better communication. And more sales.


(c) Copyright 2013 by John Foust. All rights reserved.


John Foust has conducted training programs for thousands of newspaper advertising professionals. Many ad departments are using his training videos to save time and get quick results from in-house training. E-mail for information:

Richmond News Introduces Augmented Digital Reading with LAYAR

Readers may remember a blog we wrote last month about Glacier Media Group’s partnership with Layar, a software developer. To recap, Layar augments a newspapers advertising potential by creating a digital augmented reading experience. The app (which is free to download) is extremely user friendly, Simply take a photo of a page with your iPhone, iPad or Android and Layar will translate images and text into links, videos and MP3′s. Readers can be redirected to social media sites, share content, watch videos or songs, or visit advertisers websites.

Layar not only bridges the gap between print and digital, but also between the customer and the advertiser. This new app opens up a world of creative possibilites for print advertisers that weren’t open to them before. The printed word or graphic can now act as a gateway to a plethora of different advertising campaigns that make use of videos, MP3′s and social media, to name a few. More simplistically, the app makes it easier for an interested buyer to connect with the advertiser.

The Layar app, which will be available throughout BC community newspapers, is available to download at

Glacier Media Group Announces Enterprise-wide Augmented Reality Launch with Layar

Glacier Media Group has announced that it has partnered with software developer, Layer, to create an entirely new experience for reading and advertising online newspapers. Layer, which specializes in advancing mobile reading, has developed technology that allows links, MP3 and MP4 files to be accessible on tablets, phone and screens. This new technology does more than mimic the reading experience, it enhances it. This new technology will also enhance the effectiveness of advertisements, allowing readers to access websites and purchase products by clicking on an ad placed in the newspaper. Read below for the full press release.

Glacier Media Group Announces Enterprise-wide Augmented Reality Launch with Layar

First company worldwide to build augmented reality into its digital sales platform

VANCOUVER, Feb 7, 2013 – Glacier Media Group.,(GVC:CA: TSX), Western Canada’s largest local
media company is pleased to announce the enterprise wide launch of augmented reality throughout its Lower Mainland, British Columbia properties.

Glacier Media Group has teamed up with Layar to enhance the newspaper experience for its readers.
Every edition will feature extensive use of augmented reality (AR) through editorial and advertisements.
This cutting edge technology used while reading the newspapers will allow Glacier to eliminate the gap
between print and digital.

The technology is the innovative Layar application which can be downloaded on your iOS or Android
smartphone or tablet. Layar operates as image recognition software invisibly tagging images, logos and
icons with codes to allow the augmented reality components to appear instantly on a readers phone or
tablet while scanning the AR content. Rather than QR codes in print, Layar provides the ability to link to
multiple assets; watch video/ listen to audio / share the content on social networks and even buy a product
– right from the page.

“This will allow print to come to life,” said Alvin Brouwer, president of Lower Mainland Publishing, a division
of Glacier Media. “Our plan is to increase engagement between our newspapers and our readers, increase
the time they spend with us, improve the utility of the product, and seamlessly integrate our customers’
digital assets into our newspapers,” said Brouwer, “It adds many different dimensions to a print advertising
campaign or to the stories and photos that appear in our papers.”

“Newsprint is very effective in creating desire, and the Layar technology provides us the opportunity to
increase newsprint’s utility to our readers and advertisers enabling immediate action. This is a game
changer, and we are proud to be the first to take this to market enterprise-wide.”

With over 28 million downloads worldwide, Layar is an exceptional complement to Glacier Media’s
newspaper network. Layar’s CEO Quintin Schevernels is delighted. “This partnership marks an important
milestone for Interactive Print in the Canadian market. With Glacier Media we found a partner that is very
dedicated to innovation and serving the needs of its readers and advertisers. We are confident that we will
help Glacier Media to further empower its print products.”

New case study demonstrates how newspaper ads work for packaged goods products

A recent case study has highlighted the effectiveness of newspaper advertorial. The entire study can be read here. We have highlighted the main points below:

The Flora pro-activ line of food products contains plant sterols that are proven to lower cholesterol. This line was available in U.K. supermarkets but the challenge was making consumers aware of it. This latest newspaper advertising case study demonstrates the success of localizing advertorial in hand with brand advertising in newspapers.

Qualitative research was undertaken and it confirmed the benefits of communicating via local newspaper advertorial in
conjunction with brand advertisement. The feedback garnered included:
• “The picture of the woman makes it feel more relatable.”
• “The fact it’s done as an article is clever. I read it. You read it and identify with the subject.”
• “It makes us feel like it’s (addressed) to us because it’s in our local paper.”
• “I trust my local paper as it’s been around for such a long time so you would trust Flora.”

Source: Newspapers Canada, “Case Studies”

Leverage your Advertising to Build Readership

Suzanne Raitt posted a valuable article about the perceived value of print advertising. In the piece, which I have posted below, Raitt argued that instead of viewing advertisements as an encumbrance for readers, we start seeing it as part of the creative content in advertising.

Most newspapers are interested in building readership across all their platforms. And given the pace of change today, it is difficult to continue with the strategies that used to work, as some are no longer effective.

For example, it is harder and harder to get people on the phone to build a subscription base. And it is challenging to compete with free news (from less reliable sources, in some cases), which some treat as good enough.

Our newsrooms have content covered. They are integrating systems and people that allow them to deliver vibrant news across multiple platforms.

This is good.

But we have overlooked another piece of our content: the advertisements. A newspaper is not a newspaper without them. It is why studies show we are the most acceptable source for ads; readers expect there to be ads, as they are part of content.

So how can we leverage ads to be a readership builder?

What if we recognised that people like ads? Actually, they like good ads. They will pay to see a reel of the best TV ads from around the world. So how can this apply to newspapers?

Let’s turn the current model on its head.

Right now, if advertisers want to do something innovative in your newspaper or on your site, they are asked to pay more for that privilege. In turn, this discourages advertisers and we garner fewer creative ads.

What if we encouraged and rewarded creativity?

USA Today just announced a competition for creative ads, and the winner will receive US$1 million in free advertising space!

Or, on a more feasible everyday basis, what if we provided more frequency, free of charge, to those running creative ads? This benefits the advertiser because we know frequency works. And it enhances our newspapers at a minimal cost. And I am sure we can devise other ways to reward our innovative advertisers.

Imagine the water-cooler conversation being about the cool ad that ran in your newspaper or on your site.

Need some creative ad inspiration? Well, that’s another article. But what is shown (above) is a well-crafted local retail ad that uses nothing more than a good idea to break through.

The editorial surprises and delights readers, and the ads, can too, making your newspaper an even more enjoyable read.

You can read the original article here.


A recent study by Newspapers Canada reveals the efficacy of newspapers as a medium for government advertising. The case study analyzed the advertising campaign of the Royal Canadian Mint and their launch of new one-dollar and two-dollar coins. The objectives of the Royal Canadian Mint were to a) explain the benefits of the new coinage and b) to increase the public’s perception of The Royal Canadian Mint. The study revealed that those who were exposed to the Royal Canadian Mint’s newspaper advertisements over three times had the most positive perception of the organization and its campaign. Further, those who were only exposed to the advertisement’s 1-3 times also stated as having a more positive opinion (albiet less than those exposed over three times).

To read the entire study click here

Warren Buffett And The Strength of Community Newspapers

Given that the newspaper industry has been hearing the death knell for over a decade, Warren Buffet’s purchase of 64 newspapers raised more than a few eyebrows.

Usually when someone invests in an industry that has been publicly (and unfairly) placed in a hospice, analysts view it as fool’s gold. However, when the most successful investor of all time invests in the same industry, those experts tend to give it a closer look.

So what does Warren Buffet, the contrarian, know that other investors don’t? “Newspapers that intensively cover their communities will have a good future,” Warren Buffet wrote in a letter to the publishers and editors of Berkshire Hathaway’s daily newspapers.

So why are national papers losing sales? George Affleck, General Manager of the BCYCNA, argues that national papers are cutting editorial costs in an effort to increase revenue, whereas community papers are “beefing” up their editorial, which retains newspaper readership. “Focus on the story and the advertising will come,” Affleck summed up on CBC’s Cross-Country Check-Up.

Because of their broad scope, national papers do not enjoy the same level of reader loyalty that community papers experience. Buffet echoes this sentiment: “In a very general way, strong interest in community affairs varies inversely with population size and directly with the number of years a community’s population has been in residence.”

Buffet clearly sees a strong future for community papers, despite the threat of 24/7 online news. On the contrary, as last week’s report by Newspapers Canada highlighted, community papers have strong online components, which has helped them increase their revenue via advertising.

While Buffet acknowledges the obstacles newspapers face today, he believes community papers will continue to thrive. “Papers have only failed when (1) the town or city had two or more competing dailies; (2) The paper lost its position as the primary source of information important to its readers or (3) the town or city did not have a pervasive self-identity. We don’t face these problems.”

BCYCNA General Manager George Affleck on CBC’s Cross Country Checkup

The Globe & Mail and The National Post, Canada’s two national newspapers, have recently taken steps to cut costs as their revenues have shrunk. In light of these developments, Suhana Meharchand, host of CBC’s Cross Country Checkup, devoted an entire segment to discussing the state of the newspaper industry. Experts from across Canada partook in debating the health and future of Canada’s newspaper industry.

Our own George Affleck, BCYCNA General Manager, was one of these experts. On the subject of community newspapers, Affleck cites the growing number of papers and loyal readership as proof of its health. Community papers, with a loyal readership base of 75+%, are maintaining their audience despite a paradigm shift in mobile reading devices such as tablets and smartphones.

A fundamental difference between national and community papers is the priority they place on editorial. Whereas national papers are cutting editorial costs in an effort to increase revenue, community papers are “beefing” up their editorial which, Affleck convincingly argues, retains newspaper readership. From an advertising standpoint, strong editorial will attract more advertisers because they know that the newspaper is trusted. As Affleck summarizes: “Focus on the story and the advertising will come.”

As more young people are reading long-form news articles online, the priority placed on editorial is advantageous for attracting readers from an exploding e-reader demographic.

If that weren’t enough to convince readers of the health of the industry, Warren Buffet – the world’s most successful investor – recently invested $300 million in buying up community newspapers. The future of the local paper looks bright.

Click here to listen to the entire program or go to 25:35 in the show to listen to George Affleck’s segment on community newspapers.