Posts Tagged ‘community classifieds’

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.

New Study Reveals the Effectiveness of Local Digital Marketing

A February 2013 report by the CMO Council and Balihoo found that investing in local digital marketing was  an extremely effective way to connect with customers.One of the biggest challenges all marketers reportedly faced is effectively targeting their digital efforts to specific regions. To illustrate, while  15% of those surveyed felt that they were under performing in their local marketing efforts, only 7% considered themselves to be ahead of the curve in their local digital strategies.

Many marketers still placed priority on creating across-the-board marketing strategies, with 81% saying that a brands’ overall message was top priority. Also telling, 64% of respondents said they wanted to eliminate  customer confusion caused by conflicting branding messages.

Regarding local marketing platforms, the results revealed that most respondents still rely on corporate websites. From the study:

“Websites remain the primary means brand marketers have to engage customers locally, with 86% citing the corporate site as part of their local engagement strategy. About half of those surveyed also used corporate social media outreach to engage consumers at the local level. By contrast, only one-third of brand marketers reported maintaining a local website, and even fewer, 27%, operated local social pages.”

The following chart lists – by popularity – the different methods marketers reach out to a local audience:

While these numbers may suggest a lack of new strategies, it is important to note that the majority of those questioned stated that they were able to localize any campaign within 20 days. Further, out of those who rolled out a national and local campaign simultaneously (only 3% of respondents) 90% of those said it had a positive effect on their marketing campaign. These figures suggest that more marketing campaigns should and will incorporate a national and local strategy from the beginning.

OCNA releases findings from community newspaper study!

The Ontario Community Newspaper Association recently commissioned Borrell Associates  to study community newspaper publishing in the U.S. and Canada. The purpose of the study, which can be read in its entirety here, was to help community newspapers develop an online strategy. The key findings are listed below:

▶ 74% of community and smaller-circulation newspapers expect to sell more (online?) advertising in 2013
than in 2012, with 19% predicting no change and 7% budgeting for a decline.
▶ Every newspaper had a website, with an average of 3.5 page views per visit.
▶ Online revenue accounted for an average of 7% of total revenue, while mobile was just under 0.6% and
concentrated at the higher-circulation end of the participants.
▶ Flat-rate agreements or sponsorships are sold by 92% of newspapers, while only 59% are offering CPM
▶ Almost all (98%) of publishers say that print advertising yields the best ROI for media companies.
▶ Almost all (98%) of community newspapers offer banner ads/ROS/untargeted display, with 84% offering
sponsorships and 83% selling business directory listings.
▶ Auto is the vertical likely to have the highest online growth, with 63% of newspapers projecting increased
revenue in 2013.
▶ Content management system satisfaction levels are mediocre. Although 10% said that they were “very
satisfied”, 52% were only “somewhat satisfied and 24% registered varying levels of dissatisfaction.
▶ BLOX-TownNews is the most widely Used system (35%)
▶ Although DoubleClick is (at 19%) the most common ad serving platform – followed by Blox (14%), Yahoo
(9%) and DTI (9%) – there are at least 15 other platforms used by community newspapers.

Tune in tomorrow, where we will be going over more of the findings!

Legislative Assembly of BC – Speech from the Throne

Yesterday was Legislative Assembly of BC’s Speech from the Throne. Spoken by The Honourable Judith Guichon, OBC
Lieutenant-Governor, the speech covered many topics relevant to BC voters, including:

  • The strength of the BC economy and its relationship to the Asian market. By 2030, well over three billion people in Asia will be part of the middle class, with China and India accounting for about two billion of those citizens. The speech stressed the importance of new endeavours– to be soon undertaken by the BC Government– in order to strengthen business and trade relations with the Asian market.
  • BC natural gas. The speech highlighted how natural gas can trigger a possible $1 trillion in cumulative GDP benefit to the province over the next 30 years. Further, an estimated 39,000 new full time jobs, on average, will be created during a 9 year construction period. Once all facilities reach full production, there could be over 75,000 new annual full time jobs
  • BC skills training. The speech stressed that the  growing economy will create one million job openings across our province between now and 2020 – 43 per cent of which will require people with trades and technical training.

Other topics included: Natural resources, First Nations relations, Investments in infrastructures, healthcare, budget control and affordability.  To read the entire speech, go to:

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.”

The Four P’s of Marketing

One of our regular contributors, John Foust, has written an excellent article about the four P’s of marketing. Also known as the Marketing Mix, the four P’s have been a marketing maxim for 50 years. John Foust has applied this bedrock theory of marketing and has written on it in a way that lends itself to newspaper advertising. For you who are responsible for organizing advertisements in your newspaper, this article should serve as a refresher on what your advertisers are looking for and how your newspaper can help them achieve those goals.

Marketing is not a one-note tune. In fact, most marketing textbooks feature meticulous descriptions of the Four P’s of marketing – four elements which work together in the creation of a successful campaign. If any one of the four is lacking, failure is a likely possibility.

Media sales people should have a fundamental understanding of these Four P’s. Here’s a quick look:

Product: This represents the product or service offered to consumers. If the product is something that the public would like to own, there is a ready-made marketplace.

I must mention that there is a big difference between a want and a need. Just because someone needs a product or service doesn’t mean that he or she will want to buy it. And just because that person needs a particular product doesn’t mean that any brand in that category will do.

You may need basic transportation, but you want a certain kind of sports car. You may need athletic shoes, but you want Nikes. You may need a house, but you want to live in a particular neighborhood.

Price: Think of the classic television show “The Price is Right.” Pricing strategies create delicate balances. From the seller’s perspective, pricing should meet desired profit margins. From the consumer’s point of view, a price that seems too high for perceived value will seem out of line. And a price that is too low for perceived value will suggest poor quality.

Whatever the price, discounts can be offered to boost sales.

Place: This concerns distribution. Where can consumers find the product? Can they try it on or test drive it in a local store, then buy it and take it home? Do they have to order it – in the store or online? How will they receive it? Does the store have convenient hours? What if inventories are low and the product is out of stock? If it has to be ordered, how long will delivery take?

Product availability is a huge key. Many a sale has been lost because of distribution delays.

Promotion: Essentially, promotion is communication. How do you let your target audience know about the advantages of the product or service?

Here’s where advertising enters the picture. Promotion is one piece of the marketing puzzle. And advertising is one component of promotion – just as public relations, special events and sponsorships are components of promotion.
Recent textbooks have added a fifth P to the formula: People. Without adequate customer service, all of the other P’s don’t add up to a hill of beans or – ahem – peas.

Sadly, some smaller businesses have little or no understanding of the marketing P’s. Of course, they know the importance of each individual element, but they don’t see the connections. That’s where you can help them see the big picture – and set reasonable expectations for their advertising.

After all, the best ad campaign in the world can’t sell a product that is not available or priced incorrectly or lacking in customer service.


(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:

Take Inventory of your Newsmakers

Jim Pumario was kind enough to pass along an excellent article he wrote about knowing your local newsmakers. We have decided to re-publish the article in full:

Here’s an action item for your next newsroom meeting: Ask reporters to identify the community newsmakers. Better yet, bring a stack of newspapers from the last couple of months and circle the newsmakers receiving attention in words and photos.

Several individuals are likely to be on the list, no matter the community: for example, the mayor and city council president; the superintendent and school board chair; the county’s chief administrator and the county board chair; local legislators; the heads of key local commissions and task forces. And these folks probably appear with some regularity.

You get the drift. Newsrooms by and large do a commendable job of writing for the source, especially when it comes to public affairs reporting. Public officials speak, and their statements are recorded. Their comments should be given proper notice.

At the same time, newspapers are shortchanging their readers – their customers – if they do not expand their definition of and explore the range of newsmakers. In other words, spend time to identify the players at the core of community conversations.

For example:

  • A city council debates the merits of building a skateboard park. Reporters capture the flavor of the public hearings where proponents and opponents step to the microphone. The comments of the planning commission and city council members are recorded as they cast their final votes. But have you gone beyond the meetings? Have you taken the time to observe youths doing skateboard tricks on the downtown sidewalks, navigating their way among pedestrians? Have you asked business owners and pedestrians – some who may be annoyed by the youths, some who sympathize with the lack of a park – on the pluses and minuses of creating a park? Have you talked with the parents of the kids?
  • A county board considers a conditional-use permit for an expanded feedlot operation. Reporters attend the public hearing, noting the debate and recording commissioner votes.  But have you gone beyond the meetings? Have you toured the feedlot operation firsthand? Have you visited the neighbors to witness their concerns over odor and increased traffic?

Today’s challenging media landscape demands that editors and reporters thoroughly examine their coverage and ask the question: Are we relevant to our readers? Are our news columns dominated by the same set of newsmakers, or are we digging beneath the surface to identify the full cast of characters? Are we writing our stories for the individuals at the top, or tail end, of the news pyramid without giving proper attention to everyone else in the pyramid whose actions collectively represent the full dynamics of a story?

This exercise of scrutinizing coverage goes beyond examining the meetings of local governing bodies. Editors and reporters should regularly brainstorm all aspects of everyday coverage. It can be as easy as tracking down and inserting other voices beyond what is forwarded in a press release or presented at an event.

Consider a big-box retailer that opens as the anchor of a new strip mall on the edge of town. What’s the anticipated impact on the downtown shopping district? Will the discount store strengthen the city as a regional retail center? Gaining these perspectives is just as important as recording the welcoming comments of the mayor at the grand opening. In addition, the stories provide many new faces and names beyond the traditional newsmakers.

Here’s a challenge the next time your staff is brainstorming coverage for a story of community significance. Reporters are certain to rattle off the usual lineup of individuals to solicit perspectives. Some may be appropriate and, indeed, mandatory to contact. But don’t adjourn your session until you’ve come up with at least a handful of individuals who rarely, if ever, are mentioned in your newspaper. Make it a priority to seek their opinions.

Expanding your bucket of newsmakers is all about going beyond the story that is served on the platter. Make no mistake, digging beneath the surface takes legwork – and produces long-term benefits. The enriched coverage is more interesting, and you’ll likely pick up some new readers.

Jim Pumarlo writes, speaks and provides training on Community Newsroom Success Strategies. His newest book is “Journalism Primer: A Guide to Community News Coverage for Beginning and Veteran Journalists.” He also is author of “Votes and Quotes: A Guide to Outstanding Election Coverage” and “Bad News and Good Judgment: A Guide to Reporting on Sensitive Issues in a Small-Town Newspaper.” He can be contacted at and welcomes comments and questions at

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