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Blinder Group Assists Omaha World-Herald In Generating $100k In New Revenue Through Online Directory Solution

The Challenge:

Omaha World-Herald was seeing the same trends being cited in recent research including Borrell's popular Main Street Goes Interactive study: Advertising dollars were dropping out of Yellow Pages and direct mail, but local online ad spending was continuing to rise. "The date was April 3, 2009 where Jay Leno cracked the famous joke, 'Yellow Pages are for the three people who don't have the Internet," says Mike Blinder, President of the Blinder Group. "All joking aside, the truth is, that is really what's happening."

With more and more people forgoing the old style of finding local businesses and moving towards more digital options, the team of Omaha World-Herald wanted to find a way to capitalize on the opportunities they were seeing with their local small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) who were looking for online solutions to help grow their companies. "SMBs are craving a solution to help them grow their businesses during tough economic times," says Blinder. "If newspaper sales teams do not provide a solution, someone else will."

The Blinder Group helped Omaha World-Herald launch their new online directory solution--generating new revenue for the media company as they helped local SMBs find success on the Web.

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The Solution:
Partnering with SAXOTECH, a company that provides multi-channel publishing solutions, Omaha World-Herald created a new online directory called Metro Guide. Visitors to Metro Guide could search for businesses by key words or category and a complete list of local businesses would appear, with those businesses that were advertisers having an enhanced listing inside the directory.

The enhanced listing was linked to a "Business Profile" page that included additional information (special offerings, maps, coupons, etc.) and was populated with "keywords" about the advertiser. Each "Business Profile" page was placed within Omaha World-Herald's website. Placing a properly coded page with advertiser information within a newspaper site actually assists advertisers in being found higher on the results pages of online search engines, as part of the "organic results" of the search process. This model of "Search Engine Maximization" has been proven by a number of newspapers with great success.

"We like to blend these local search products that we have launched in hundreds of markets over the years with an active and passive component," says Blinder. "I always tell local advertisers that it is great to be part of a search product where you are found actively, but let's not forget the passive audience." Toward that goal, Omaha World-Herald gave each participating advertiser (limited to 30, each paying $74/per week for the program) in-story banner ad space as well as placed a widget throughout the site that lifted information from the advertiser's directory listing and rotated it throughout all content pages of the newspaper's website.

Click to download complete sales presentation designed by the Blinder Group

Sales Support Materials:
The Blinder Group also assisted in the production of the associated sales support collaterals necessary for this program's deployment. A simple, easy-to-follow multiple page flyer was developed so the advertisers (and the sales team) could easily grasp the features and benefits of this sales program. Too often, media companies do not graphically explain the online portions of sales programs in an easy-to-follow manner. This creates confusion during the sales process. The Blinder Group has vast experience in creating such sales presentations.

Sales Team Training:
The Blinder Group conducted an initial training session with the newspaper's traditional salespeople to instruct on:

  • Prospecting new multimedia business
  • The basics of multimedia marketing and how the medium works
  • Best practices in selling online solutions
  • The benefits of bringing interactive products to market
  • Methods for using the Web to garner more market share
  • How to attack the competition with online offerings

During that training, the sales staff was supplied with proven support documents that re enforced the training, as well as provided an appointment-setting script to assist them in setting up the calls.

The training session also included content informing the sales team of the Blinder Group's scheduled return visit, in which "4-legged" sales training/closing calls were performed with the reps to assist in the launching of the new program. Salespeople were urged and encouraged during the meeting, to set up a large amount of appointments, with qualified "decision-makers" of area businesses.

Is there really a value to having traditional newspaper sales reps take an online product to market? "The more people we have offering this program to our advertisers the better," says Angela Brauer, Digital Retail Advertising Manager at Omaha World-Herald. "And giving our traditional sales team the opportunity to really jump out there with a product that hadn't been introduced to our market before was really great for our reps."

Guaranteed Revenue Generation:
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 new to marketing their business online and feel 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 across North America.

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. Also, during these assisted, "4-legged" sales training/closing calls provided by the Blinder Group, the accompanying salesperson learns new, valuable techniques in how to sell innovative programs, like this one, in an effective manner. "We sell the basic fundamentals of advertising: reach, frequency, branding and offer," says Barbara Wickman, Senior Associate for the Blinder Group, who worked with the Omaha World-Herald team on the "4-legged" sales training/closing calls. "The focus is on selling the audience, not the technology. Advertisers hearing this positioning really feel that it is something they can benefit from by participating."

The Blinder Group has a proven track record of generating high "closing" ratios, resulting in significant revenue for client media companies that have deployed this form of advertising sales initiative. During these assisted, "4-legged," sales training/closing calls with the sales reps in Omaha, the Blinder Group achieved a 61% "closing ratio" during the initial visit when the call was performed in front of a "qualified decision-maker," resulting in over $100,000 of new revenue.

"This was a much easier way to gain market dollars," says Steve Thornburg, Advertising Sales Representative for Omaha World-Herald. "The price point was right and the option of having an Internet presence for a small business that may not have its own website was definitely appealing. The understanding of the Web audience is definitely out there and on the minds of business owners."

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

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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