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Morris Maxing Money with New Online Ad Position!

The Opportunity
With classified-based online revenue being highly successful in the Morris newspaper markets, the challenge was to build a sales model that would garner more online dollars from their retail based advertisers. The Blinder Group was consulted to assist in helping to generate these new dollars as quickly as possible.

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Program Overview
Mike Blinder of The Blinder Group visited with the management at Morris Digital Works. During this meeting, it was decided that since reports were showing that a good deal of their Web readers were accessing the sites with larger browser "windows," a new "right rail" skyscraper ad position would be created on most local market Web sites.

Each Web site's audience and traffic were analyzed with packages being developed offering maximum exposure for advertisers and a favorable rate for the local newspaper properties. It was also decided that mostly retail-based advertisers would be targeted for deployment of the program since many of the markets were looking for new solutions to gain more from this revenue category. The "Max Ads" program was developed to target the newspaper's existing display advertisers who were spending on competing media. "Max Ads" offered the newspaper advertiser the ability to place elements of their weekly print ad on the Web site. The ads then rotated evenly (with other participating advertiser's messages) on all pages of the local newspapers' Web site. Since there was only a certain number of ad impressions offered for this program, a limited number of advertisers were able to participate.

The newspapers' in-house traditional ad designers were trained on the methods to create these online ads--making sure that the message of the online ad was displayed in such a method so that the reader did not have to "click" the ad in order to be impacted by the advertising message. This sometimes required a discussion between the ad rep and advertiser to choose a single "Web offering" from a print campaign that may contain various products and/ or offers. The online ads would then have the ability to link to the advertiser's Web site; or to an online version of the advertiser's current print ad. All advertisers who participated in the program were to receive a guaranteed number of impressions for the ad position that rotated (with other participating advertisers) on all pages of the local sites. The advertiser was charged a specific monthly fee for a mandatory 12-month commitment. The fees varied depending on the market size.

To take the program "to market" effectively, advertisers would have to be educated on the many features and benefits of the program; that included the ability to have their print message reach more potential customers through the expanded Web audience as well as increasing the "frequency" of the exposure of their ad message by having that message appear several thousand times a month on the pages of the newspapers' Web sites.

Sales Strategy
One of the key elements in ensuring sales success of this initiative is garnering advertiser approval of meeting attendance as well as the validity of the concept in general. Some of these advertisers are wary of trying new ideas. One of the most effective means of accomplishing attendance and acceptance is to introduce the advertiser to an industry respected "outside" consultant who has had success with similar programs, with similar businesses, in similar markets, all over the world. That is why many media companies contract with The Blinder Group to perform "4-legged" sales training closing calls with traditional ad reps, to assist in the launch of programs like the one defined in this document.

Mike Blinder traveled to each Morris market for an initial visit to the newspaper, where he conducted an onsite motivational, fun and face-paced, basic sales training program for all managers and "outside" salespeople. Topics covered included:

  • Prospecting New Multimedia Business
  • The Methods of Selling Multimedia
  • The Basics of the Internet and How the Medium Works
  • The Benefits of Bringing Interactive Products to Market
  • How to Effectively Offer Web Based Products to Your Advertisers
  • Methods for Using the Web to Garner More Market Share

During the meeting the sales staff was also informed 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 to set up a large amount of appointments, with qualified "decision-makers" of area businesses, so that they could experience "first hand" how to sell online products to their advertisers with The Blinder Group's assistance. Salespeople were given a "success kit" which reaffirmed the most important elements of the training. Plus it offered them a proven "appointment setting" script to assist in setting up the sales calls. The Blinder Group also created multi-page sales support brochures for each salesperson to use in order to present the program to advertisers. The support materials outlined the Web site audience demographics as well as the features and benefits of the program.

After this initial visit in which Mike Blinder performed strategic planning and initial staff training, a Blinder Group associate returned to markets within 2-weeks to conduct "4-legged," sales training/closing calls on advertisers, with the ad reps of each newspaper. These calls helped train the sales force, through example, on how easy it is to present online products to their advertisers. Also, the resulting revenue generated by the actual sales training calls went a long way to convince the traditional newspaper ad reps that selling online products can translate into commissions. The Blinder Group knows that there is no better way to convince a newspaper ad rep to embrace new selling concepts than to "show them the money!"

So far, over $1.8 million dollars of new online revenue has been generated as a direct result of the program. Most of this revenue was garnered from competing media spending. Plus company wide, markets are experiencing client retention of over 80% after 6-months of participation! "We are real glad we brought Mike and the team back into our markets this year. This program has generated huge revenue with great advertiser retention. All of the markets are reporting that they loved working with Mike and the team and saw great value in the deployment," said Robert C. Granfeldt, Vice President Consulting Services, Morris Digital Works.

Contact Information
Robert C. Granfeldt, Vice President Consulting Services, Morris Digital Works
(706) 828-4330

Lead Consultant for The Blinder Group:
Barbara Wickman, Senor Associate
(619) 203-6166

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

SPEAKING PROGRAMS, seminars and workshops

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

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