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Local Search Blends with Online Banners for Big Win in Jefferson City

The Challenge
Can a newspaper still expect to sell online inventory at high CPMs to new local advertisers even in a tough economy? To quote Governor Palin: "You betcha!" The Blinder Group proved it in Jefferson City, Mo., this past January by assisting the News Tribune with a proven online sales-training and revenue-generation program.


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The Program
The Jefferson City (MO) News Tribune had contracted with Local.com to provide a cost effective local online search solution for their Web site. This simple application offers local newspapers with a pre-existing online directory of every local business. Users simply search by keyword or category to see the results, with advertisers paying for premium placement appearing at the top of the page.

"In the past two years we launched the Local.com directory solution in dozens of markets," announced Mike Blinder, President of The Blinder Group, the media industry's leading multimedia sales training and consulting firm. "It provides a very cost effective means for local media properties to acquire 'Yellow Page spending dollars' from the local advertisers. We are convinced that local Yellow Page print directories have never been more vulnerable than now. While Google and Yahoo! are attacking the utility of the printed book by winning over its readers, advertisers are becoming increasingly susceptible to finding alternative solutions like online Yellow Page-enhanced listings. Plus, the Local.com platform provides a search engine "optimization" component that assists local advertisers appear higher in the rankings of these search engines like Google and Yahoo! That appeals to me," he continued, "because when we assist sales reps in taking these products to market, we want to provide a search solution that goes beyond "enhanced status" on a local directory results page. We want to help the advertiser on global search platforms too."

The Blinder Group worked with the Jefferson City (MO) News Tribune to create a sales program that blends the Local.com search component with a local website banner inventory. "I always train sales reps to offer banners whenever they can," said Blinder, "because it helps the advertiser have an impact on not only the active shopper looking for a local product or service, but also on the passive reader, who may not be actively looking right now for what the advertiser is offering, but who will still be affected by the banner ad while they read the local website's content."

The program created by the Blinder Group offered fifteen exclusive advertisers 25 thousand monthly online ad positions on all local news stories on NewsTribune.com. The online ad can link to the advertiser's Web site or to a "Business Profile Page" within the Local.com platform. The newspaper made sure to populate the Profile Page with additional content about the advertiser, as well. Each advertiser also received "enhanced" status on the results pages of any relevant search of the Local.com platform.


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The Blinder Group also assisted in producing the associated sales support collaterals necessary for program's deployment. An easy-to-follow, multiple page flyer was developed and submitted to the newspaper before the program was deployed. Simple sales collaterals like these are necessary for advertisers (and the sales team too!) to grasp the features of the sales program being deployed quickly and effectively. Too often media companies do not explain the online components of their sales programs in an easy-to-follow, graphic manner, but this only leads to confusion during the sales process. The Blinder Group has vast experience in creating such sales presentations.


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Results
To help the newspaper's sales force adapt to selling online solutions like this to local advertisers, the Blinder Group provided classroom training and conducted a number of "4-legged" sales training/closing calls with the local ad reps, on local advertisers. Over 75% of the l "decision makers" that were called on in the "4-legged" setting, agreed to purchase this program for a full year with a $4,100 commitment. Over $77,000 was generated in just one week's sales effort!

"The blending of the Local.com search product with our web inventory really helped us achieve a number of wins for our online sales effort," said Jane Haslag, Advertising/Marketing Director for the Jefferson City (MO) News Tribune. "Not only did we experience high advertiser acceptance in a tough economy. We were also able to garner higher rates for the banner ads packaged in the program, due to the local search offering we included."

According to Dawn Paduganan, Executive Director, Private Label Solutions, for Local.com, "The Blinder Group has played an integral role in getting sales reps from markets of all sizes to realize the benefit of taking these local search solutions to market. Private label search solutions, like Local.com, can be a huge asset to any online sales effort, increasing the benefit to advertisers in a number of distinct ways. Firstly it assists the media company in getting local dollars from other directory advertisers. But secondly, if incorporated successfully with other online offerings, it can assist media companies in gaining new advertiser categories to purchase additional advertising, for higher rates, with longer commitments and better contract retention."

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Contact Information
Local Media Contact:
Jane Haslog, Advertising/ Marketing Director, Jefferson City (MO) Tribune
(573) 761-0270
jane@newstribune.com

Local.com Contact:
Dawn Paduganan , Executive Director of Private Label Solutions
Local.com
(949) 789-5220
dpaduganan@local.com

For The Blinder Group:
Mike Blinder, President
Blinder Group Inc.
(727) 847-2464
mike@blindergroup.com


The Blinder Group
Tampa Offices: 6139 Fjord Way
New Port Richey, FL 34652 USA
(727) 847-2464 ~ (727) 847-5959 (fax)
profit@blindergroup.com

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CONSULTING/TRAINING: Strategic Planning ~ Basic Sales Training
Multimedia Sales Training ~ Assisted 4-Legged Closing Calls

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