Blinder Group Launches Ellington’s Marketplace Solution garnering over $250,000 in local online sales!
Ellington Marketplace is an online platform developed in the U.S. by Mediaphormedia, the award winning interactive and software division of The World Company, a communications and media company based in Lawrence, Kansas who publish the Lawrence Kansas Journal-World.
The Ellington Marketplace solution offers a publisher an online platform that provides a database of every business in their community. Each gets their own Web site with a standard bundle of features. Paid options provide businesses with a fully integrated marketing platform that is organized and useful to consumers. Once live on the publisher’s Web site, online readers can search for local businesses based on a specific business category or by simply using key words.
"What I like most about the Ellington solution is how well each local businesses' Web site optimizes on search engines like Google and Yahoo," stated Mike Blinder, President of The Blinder Group. "We have launched a number of local search/marketplace solutions over the past year in various client markets. I always instruct our clients that 'local search, without search engine optimization, is an oxymoron.' In other words if your local search platform does not also assist the advertiser with their rankings on major search engines, you are not providing them with a total solution. Ellington’s pages optimize nicely when deployed on local publisher's Web sites."
Although each client market in which the Ellington Marketplace was launched used the Blinder Group in various capacities, all took Mike Blinder's advice and provided a marketing program for local advertisers that blended their local online banner inventory with a Marketplace “enhanced” component. 'First, banners are not "dead,"' says Mike Blinder. 'They can still be an integral part of any local media company's Web offerings, as long as they are sold correctly. A banner ad needs to be designed to provide strong "offer oriented" messages that change often. Have local contact information like addresses and phone numbers placed within the actual design, so readers have the ability to respond traditionally rather than having to click to make any buying action. Plus, the media company needs to be instructed to provide less banners on a page that are large in size, designed with less clutter, so they stand out to the readers' eye.'
These bundled banner/ local search programs are currently deployed in over two hundred Blinder Group client markets, being utilized by over ten thousand local advertisers world-wide.
'As part of my training process, I instruct the media company and advertisers about the need to utilize two forms of marketing simultaneously,' adds Mike Blinder. 'One to the "active shopper" who may be seeking a product or service through the newly deployed Marketplace platform or a search engine, and one for the passive shopper who may not be pre-disposed to buy at that moment. The passive shopper, however, can be influenced through an online banner ad with a compelling message.
During training sessions and advertiser meetings, I will sometimes draw a diagram of a "marketing funnel" to help emphasize that concept. I like to show that potential buyers can be influenced in two ways -- active AND passive. And, local business owners should understand the need to target both kinds of consumers with an effective marketing campaign.'
Blinder adds, "the 'bundling' of the Marketplace solution with local banner inventory also achieves more revenue for our clients with each contract. It also helps us achieve a higher price and net 'cost-per-thousand' (CPM). And, helps us gain longer advertiser retention."
The Blinder Group also assisted in producing the associated sales support collaterals necessary for each local market’s deployment. An easy-to-follow, multiple-page flyer was developed and submitted to the media company before the program was deployed. Printed, easy-to-understand sales collaterals like these are necessary for advertisers (and the sales people) to grasp the features and benefits of these online marketing solutions.
The Sales Deployment
After initial consultation with the media company to assist in developing the local sales offerings, Mike Blinder conducted on-site sales training sessions to instruct the sales teams on:
- The Basics of the Media Sales Process
- Prospecting New Business
- Getting in the Door & Establishing Instant Business-to-Business Rapport
- Making an Effective Needs Analysis
- Latest Audience Trends
- The Basics of the Media
- The Exact Elements of a Winning Marketplace Program
- Closing The Sale
Mike Blinder incorporates many basic sales training tactics from his book: Survival Selling, Even in the Toughest Times in this online sales training session. Sales people learn many valuable skills that not only assist them in selling the new Marketplace platform, but also how to sell better in general -- even in a tough economy.
Another challenge that the Blinder Group assists with is how to help the local media company to use the new Marketplace offering to gain new business from new advertiser categories. Many studies and reports recently verify what The Blinder Group has realized within the many markets they work in: that most of the opportunity for new revenue can be garnered from new advertiser categories, specifically within the smaller and medium sized businesses within each market.
Two such reports, recently issued by Borrell Associates verify the need for media companies to target small and medium sized businesses within their local markets. In 2008 the report "Say Goodbye to Yellow Pages" states that "The main battle for the small business ad spending is between the pure-plays, on the one hand, and the two groups with the largest local sales forces: newspapers and directory publishers." A more recent Borrell study entitled "Main Street Goes Interactive" has this passage with in it: "As larger businesses appear tapped out, headed for bankruptcy, or just extremely reluctant to continue longstanding advertising practices, local media companies are scrambling to find new customers along Main Street. These small- and medium-sized businesses, or SMBs, in aggregate may seem like a bonanza…"
In order to assist in being able to garner more participation from local small and medium sized businesses, some Blinder Group client markets elected to have Mike Blinder conduct advertiser workshops, in which local small business owners attended educational sessions in order to learn how they can use the internet to grow their own business. Over 400 local business owners attended these sessions held in various cities, in which Mike Blinder presented a powerful, dynamic, information filled program, showing local advertisers that there’s still tremendous opportunity for all on the World Wide Web.
In some cases, "The Advertiser Workshop" was hosted in alliance with a local civic organization, such as the local Chamber of Commerce. The program showed the attendees how there are many opportunities for business growth; development of new customer bases, and increased marketing capabilities. And most importantly, these "high tech" concepts were "brought down to earth," so everyone understood them. The workshops also featured information on the new online Marketplace solution offered by the local media company. Many businesses that attended these sessions purchased the sales program being featured during the event.
Following both the sales team training and Advertiser Workshops, the Blinder Group conducted a number of “4-legged” sales training/closing calls with the local ad reps, on local advertisers in each of these markets. The Blinder Group team conducts over five thousand of these sales calls each year. During the weeks that the sales calls were being performed, daily reports were issued to local senior sales management. In all markets combined, over 60% of the “decision makers” that were called on in the “4-legged” setting on the initial sales call, agreed to purchase the Marketplace sales program for a full years commitment. This resulted in over $250,000 of new online revenue for these Blinder Group clients.
'When we chose the Ellington Marketplace solution for several of our newspapers to deploy, we immediately sought out Mike Blinder to help us with the initial deployments in our various markets,' stated Doug Olsson, VP of Digital Sales/ Sandusky Newspapers. ‘Mike assisted our local sales managers on building some effective packages. Then, visited all of our markets to conduct informative advertiser meetings to introduce the product and get them excited about the features and benefits. These meetings really helped us “jumpstart” our local sales efforts.'
"We could not be happier that Mike Blinder is working with our local Ellington Marketplace affiliates," said Sara Wilhelm, VP Sales & Business Development for Mediaphormedia, developers of Ellington Marketplace. "His knowledge and experience of the local online sales process had proved to be invaluable in helping our affiliates maximize their revenue potential from Marketplace."Click here to download a PDF of this study
Ellington Marketplace Contact:
Sara Wilhelm, VP Sales & Business Development
Mediaphormedia | A Division of the World Company
Local Media Contact:
Doug Olsson, Vice President of Digital Sales
For The Blinder Group:
Mike Blinder, President
Blinder Group Inc.
The Blinder Group
Tampa Offices: 6139 Fjord Way
New Port Richey, FL 34652 USA
(727) 847-2464 ~ (727) 847-5959 (fax)
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