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Millions in New Digital (and Print) Ad Revenue Generated for GateHouse Media with Bundled Sales Training Initiative

The Goal

GateHouse Media has 79 daily, 257 weeklies, and 95 'shopper' oriented newspapers, as well as 405+ digital properties to manage within the United States. They approached the Blinder Group with an immediate goal to:

  • Significantly increase local multimedia sales (both digital and print)
  • Increase the sales of longer, stronger schedules to local small business owners
  • Train sales executives on the benefits of and strategies for selling multimedia campaigns
  • Measure and improve the closing ratios of the local sales force through strengthening processes
  • Add to the education provided for leadership and sales teams of the local markets they serve.
  • Management of GateHouse Media approached the Blinder Group to meet the above goals through the deployment of an in-market sales training and revenue development program.

    The Solution

    Mike Blinder, President of the Blinder Group, initially consulted with GateHouse management including, Rebecca Capparelli, Corporate Director of Sales Training & Development, to learn which local properties were best suited for deployment and which local marketing offerings to train and deploy. "We chose markets with strong revenue potential and sales leaders that were motivated to train their teams and achieve the goals we had set or the overall program," stated Rebecca Capparelli, Corporate Director of Sales, Training, & Development, "If you start with market leaders who are aligned with the goals of the program, you can work together to drive results and roll it out more easily into additional markets."

    Once that was accomplished, the Blinder Group set up individual conference calls with each local market to craft a ready to implement sales program that would create sizable new digital (and print) advertising revenue. Each program was designed to significantly increase multimedia revenue over the next sixty to ninety days and incorporated digital banner inventory, offered at effective and competitive CPM's, enhanced status in the local online directory solution, awarding assistance with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and an ongoing print component as well. All programs were sold with a 12-month minimum commitment.

    Next, utilizing local market research as well as industry standards and information, the Blinder Group assisted in the production of the associated sales support collaterals. Simple, easy-to-follow, multiple page fliers are developed so the local business owners (and the sales team) could easily grasp the features and benefits of the sales program. The Blinder Group has vast experience in creating such sales presentations. "Too often media companies do not graphically explain the online portions of sales programs in an easy-to-follow manner," says Blinder. "This creates confusion during the sales process."

    In addition to the sales materials, the Blinder Group encouraged reps to pull together individual folders for each of their prospects. The folders included a copy of the business' website home page, advertising found in competing media, and a "snap shot" of their current Google rankings when key business categories/terms are searched. "The folders really show the advertiser you are committed to helping them grow their business," says Blinder. Later on, during the market deployments, the local sales people were urged to add local business category research for each advertiser targeted, through their provided AdMall platform.

    Then, Mike Blinder personally visited each designated GateHouse market to provide a 1/2-day training program. "The key to the success of the overall GateHouse initiative was to get the sales teams comfortable with the process and telling their overall multimedia story," stated Mike Blinder during a recent Webinar about this deployment. "It was my goal to 'DE-GEEK' the process of multimedia sales and instruct them to be less concerned about technology and more focused on selling audience!"

    Some of the contents of Mike Blinder's Multimedia Master Class, included:

  • Prospecting new digital dollars from new advertiser categories
  • The basics of multimedia marketing and how digital media works
  • The features and benefits of the local product offerings
  • Putting together the right solution for every advertiser from those offerings
  • The proper (multimedia) presentation
  • The benefits of leading with digital to sell print
  • The Multimedia Master Class also included content that informed the sales staff of the Blinder Group's pending return visit, in which "4-legged" sales training/closing calls were to be performed. Salespeople were urged and encouraged during the meeting, to set up a large amount of appointments, with qualified "decision-makers" of area businesses, so that the new sales program, developed during the local management planning session, was "taken to market" effectively! Salespeople were given a "success kit" which reaffirms the most important elements of the training and the tools necessary for appointment setting.

    "The most critical part of this process is preparation," says Brad Harmon, Corporate Vice President/Sales & Marketing. Toward that goal, sales reps were encouraged to qualify all leads using the Blinder Group's DELMAR approach:

  • Decision Maker—is this a business owner or manager who can say 'yes'?
  • Established—is this person representing a company that is currently open and generating revenue?
  • Locally Focused—is this business interested in local customers and/or clients?
  • Marketing Budget—has this business performed any marketing/advertising in the past?
  • Afford the Offer—can this business afford the multimedia package we are offering?
  • Rapport Established—has the salesperson met this person prior to the workshop?
  • "Since using the DELMAR approach, our closing ratios have gone up 15%," says Blinder. Chris White, Senior Vice President Sales & Marketing, Ohio Properties, sees this strategy as a key to closing longer contracts. "Not only do you need to know who the decision-maker is, you need to have a rapport with him or her. You can't close an annual contract on a first time call."

    "We needed to design a sales process that would be foundational, measurable and easy to implement. Our business landscape is so much more competitive and we have to be able to tell our story really, really well," stated Rebecca Capparelli from GateHouse Media.

    The Results

    At time of publication of this study, GateHouse Media is nearing the $2,000,000 in total sales mark with 19 markets completed. 60% of this revenue is being attributed as digital and 40% to print. "The average contract was $4289 and the closing ratio was 65%--that's higher than what we are seeing in a lot of other markets," says Blinder.

    GateHouse plans to roll this strategy out to other markets as they work towards growing digital revenue by 40%-50%. "Now that our markets are geared up and trained up, we feel like we can achieve this," says Bard Harmon, Corporate Vice President/Sales & Marketing.

    For more information, contact:

    Mike Blinder, President, Blinder Group, 727-847-2464

    Rebecca Capparelli, Corporate Director of Sales Training & Development, GateHouse Media, 585-598-0045

    The Blinder Group
    Tampa Offices: 19606 Eagle Crest Drive
    Lutz, FL 33549 USA
    (727) 847-2464 ~ (727) 499-7410 (fax)

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