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Blinder Generates Over 1.3 Million in New, Online Revenue for Freedom Communications

The Challenge :

Freedom Communications was in a bit of a turmoil as they began the process of filing for Chapter 11 in Q4 of 2009. However, that did not stop the management team of Freedom Interactive, the online division of the company, from seeing strong opportunity within their local markets to seize new revenue from the various online solutions they have deployed throughout the company. It was with this goal in mind that they approached The Blinder Group to lead the charge for new, near term online revenue generation within 14 of their newspapers and 5 of their TV stations.

Shows local markets deployed by Freedom Communications by The Blinder Group in Q4 of 2009

Some sample pages of one of the presentations created for the Victorville (CA) Daily Press a Freedom Communications local Media Company

The Program:
"Freedom Interactive has done a stellar job supporting their media properties," stated Mike Blinder, President of The Blinder Group; a leading media advertising consulting, training and revenue generation enterprise, based in Tampa Bay Florida. "When the folks at FI approached me to take on this project, I was amazed at the various solutions they have garnered and maintained for their local properties. Everything from the latest in flash and video based banner advertising, to effective, locally targeted, online e-mail marketing campaigns, to search optimization programs. Even pay per click marketing options for local advertisers. To me, there seemed to be no excuse for a local media salesperson to be able to pair the right interactive solution for any local advertiser. The challenge just seemed to get them to focus on online."

In order to make this happen, Mike Blinder consulted with Freedom Interactive senior marketing management on developing some bundled, pre-packaged, aggressively priced solutions that could be offered on a limited availability basis to a select number of local advertisers. "This provides us with the needed urgency necessary during the local closing calls we provide for our clients while in market," said Blinder. "We need to be able to say to the advertiser, 'I know this may cause you to have to make a decision quickly, but, we can only sell a small amount of advertisers this exact program.' Or as I like to say: 'Mr. Advertiser, you can give us a yes. Or a no. And a no is okay. We just need a decision soon, because someone else may take your valuable slot!'"

Mike Blinder also strongly suggested they remove the actual Cost Per Thousand (CPM) pricing from the sales package being provided, using the easier to explain "share of voice" model, to describe the value proposition of the local banner inventory to the local advertiser. "Most of the advertisers we are getting acceptance from in this economy are smaller businesses with limited advertising knowledge, says Blinder. "Having to describe the CPM pricing model during the sales process is laborious and confusing! It is much easier to say, 'Mr. Advertiser, your ad will be seen this many times. Over this period of time. For this price.' I am pretty sure we were the 1st ones to take the 'share of voice' model to market over a decade ago, and it still works today, especially to the small businesses we target with most of the online advertising programs we craft for our client media companies."

There were three different tiers of advertising programs created by The Blinder Group, for each of the 22 Freedom markets chosen for Blinder deployments. Each program blended a high-frequency online banner campaign on the local media company's Web site, with a Search Engine Optimization component (SEO) created by a locally hosted, online Business Profile Page for each advertiser. Higher priced programs added email and search marketing to the equation. "We were allowed to 'think on our feet,'" says Mike Blinder. "I made sure that if an advertiser wanted to customize the package we were presenting, we were prepped on all the offerings so we could swap something in or out to get the close during the call."

The Deployment:
Once the programs were crafted and approved, The Blinder Group built the actual sales materials used during the sales call process. "We sell a lot with paper and NOT computers," said Mike Blinder. "In most of our client markets, we train the reps to use printed Power Point presentations to tell a story to the advertiser during the call. It usually starts with the value of the online audience followed by the features and benefits of placing an ad in front of that audience. Followed by the value of any SEO product we are blending." Three separate fifteen-page presentations were crafted by The Blinder Group for each of the 22 local Freedom Communications markets.

Next, there was a review process of the programs with the local sales managers of each of the twenty-two local media properties, to obtain their approval of the pricing and packaging. After that, Mike Blinder personally trained each sales team on who to target and best practices to set up the appointments with local business owners, for the upcoming "Blinder Blitz," where one or more Blinder Group Associates were scheduled to come to each market, to accompany the local sales reps on advertiser sales calls.

"The key to OUR success of the program, in my opinion, was our commitment to setting up the sales calls for the Blinder Associate coming to our market," stated Stephan Wingert, Publisher of the Victoville (CA) Daily Press, one of the twenty-two Freedom Communications' local media companies that worked with The Blinder Group. We knew how lucky we were to be getting this support from the folks at FI, so we made sure that each call we set up was in front of an appropriate advertiser, who could afford the program; and made sure the business 'decision maker' was present during the call." The Victorville Daily Press actually generated over $170,000 in new online revenue, from the Blinder Group deployment, with over 70% of the advertisers who were targeted for the program, agreeing to at least a 6-month advertising commitment.

The End Result:
In total, over 1.3 million dollars of new, online revenue was achieved, in ten short weeks, through Freedom Communications' partnership with the Blinder Group. More importantly, many of the advertisers garnered, were new to the local media company, with a good deal coming from new business categories.

Local Freedom Communications Contacts:
Doug Bennett, President, Freedom Interactive

Stephan Wingert, Publisher
Victoville (CA) Daily Press

For the Blinder Group:
Mike Blinder, President/ Founder
The 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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