"If you want to improve the results of any advertising campaign.. target your ads better!" stated Mike Blinder to local business owners at a series of workshops hosted by the Springfield, IL State Journal-Register, one of the larger newspapers owned by Gatehouse Media, headquartered in Fairport, New York. Mike Blinder, President of the Blinder Group, a multimedia sales training and consulting firm located in Tampa Bay, Florida, was hired by the Journal-Register to assist them in marketing Yahoo! Behavioral Targeting to local advertisers.
Yahoo! Behavioral Targeting, sometimes referred to as "BT" is a unique way to track a local online reader’s experience on Yahoo! by showing the sites they are visiting, searches they are making and content/ads they are clicking. When used effectively, this information gives businesses the opportunity to make some predictions as to what stage these readers are in their buying cycle—active or passive—and place their advertising accordingly in front of these potential buyers, in order to improve the effectiveness of those ads.
The management team of the State Journal-Register, looked to the Blinder Group to assist them with developing a results driven multimedia marketing campaign for local advertisers, as well as help them bring these solutions to market. The goals of the engagement were for the Blinder Group to:
- Assess all current online offerings with a focus on the innovative Yahoo! BT program.
- Leverage “best practices” from the hundreds of Blinder Group sales deployments in similar markets and develop results-driven sales programs, suggest pricing, packaging and target business categories that will result in maximum advertiser acceptance.
- Build a sales training program for the local advertising sales force that will motivate and enable them to take these solutions to market effectively.
- Create a highly informational training program for local business owners that will educate them on basic digital marketing concepts; as well as enlighten them on the features and benefits of the multimedia offerings from the Journal-Register in an easy to comprehend manner.
- Enhance the local sales team training by assisting the sales team on sales calls with local business owners to properly instruct them on best methods of product presentation.
- Increase revenue by gaining advertiser acceptance and "closing deals!"
During a number of consultation sessions, Mike Blinder suggested that the Journal-Register offer to local advertisers, a "blended" sales program that combine the Yahoo! BT solution with an innovative online coupon platform, called "Radar Frog" and "Totally Local" a local online directory product.
The campaign, Targeted Yahoo! Media 2011, allowed businesses to not only have an online BT ad within locally viewed Yahoo! inventory, but also place the same online ad on the State Journal-Register's website: SJ-R.com. The advertiser did have the option to purchase the Yahoo! inventory as either Behaviorally Targeted (BT) or simply geo-targeted, meaning their ad would be seen on Yahoo! by local Springfield online readers only. In addition, advertisers could choose to have their coupons be incorporated within the Radar Frog online environment, a site that allows readers to look at offers, deals and specials from local businesses. And finally, all participating advertisers received an enhanced listing in the newspaper's online directory solution, where readers can search for local businesses by keyword or category. Enhanced listings were linked to the company’s "Business Profile Page" which was populated with information and keywords about the advertiser and was placed within the local newspaper'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.
The Blinder Group Engagement Process
The Blinder Group agreed to:
- Build all sales materials
- Conduct sales training
- Provide marketing assistance
- Conduct Advertiser Workshops for local business owners
- Conduct “4-legged” sales training/ closing calls with local sales reps to generate new revenue
Sales Marketing Support
Sales Team Training
One was conducted by Video-Based Webinar, two weeks in advance of the local visit to the market.
And, another more in depth session, was performed live with the sales force during his 2-day visit to Springfield, IL.
Content of these training sessions, included:
- Prospecting New Internet Marketplace Revenue from New Advertiser Categories
- Getting to the "Yes Person" and Establishing Instant Rapport
- Selling Advertising Solutions...Not Media!
- Putting Together the Right Solution From Your Product Choices
- The media mix, and how to blend the Yahoo! BT solution with local "legacy" product offerings
- The Local Website Product Offering
- CLOSE THESE DEALS!!!!! And, overcome the "objections!"
During both sessions the sales staff was informed about the upcoming Advertiser Workshops and Blinder Group's return visit, in which "4-legged" sales training/closing calls were performed with the reps, to assist in the launching of this initiative. Salespeople were urged and encouraged during the sessions, to invite business owners to the event and set up a large amount of appointments, for the sales calls.
The sales people were also 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.
Many of the Blinder Group's media clients are now hosting advertiser workshops to highlight the advantages of a multifaceted marketing campaign. Local businesses participating in these workshops come to realize that the "Internet isn't as complicated as we're led to believe, and that by partnering with local media websites, they can actually grow their businesses," states Mike Blinder. "In fact, many of these local businesses leave the workshop ready to take their marketing strategies to the next level—and looking to their local media partner to help lead the way."
Blinder goes on to say: "We bring the mountains to Mohammed by bringing many small businesses together in a single location to learn about all the features and benefits that local media has to offer them. Most importantly, we're bringing high tech concepts down to earth so that anyone can understand them."
Many of the participants are small- to medium-sized local businesses, which are all too frequently ignored by traditional advertising sales reps. A recent report by Borrell Associates entitled "Say Goodbye to Yellow Pages," states: "The main battle for the small business ad spending is between the pure-plays, on the one hand, and the two groups with the largest local sales forces: newspapers and directory publishers." But directory publishers are fading fast. Within the next five years, traditional directories like the Yellow Pages are expected to lose 42.3 percent of their traditional business. "Main Street Goes Interactive," another study by Borrell states that, "As larger businesses appear tapped out, headed for bankruptcy, or just extremely reluctant to continue longstanding advertising practices, local media companies are scrambling to find new customers along Main Street. These small- and medium-sized businesses, or SMBs, in aggregate may seem like a bonanza."
The report is referring to all the local businesses that everybody seems to take for granted: restaurants, auto repair shops, doctors, lawyers, plumbers, and even pizza delivery services. According to Borrell Associates, these businesses "have high hopes that the Web will save them," a fact borne out by official statistics. The most recent data states that 11.2 percent of the advertising budget of these small- and medium-sized businesses is spent on online initiatives. They are an untapped "bonanza" for media companies, who can provide them with the exposure they crave.
But Mike Blinder thinks that the actual numbers even higher now. "Sales Opportunity Network, a division of the Blinder Group, meets with 5,000 small- and medium-sized businesses every year in markets large and small, making sales calls with local media ad reps to assess the businesses' needs, goals, and desires, and to assist them in finding advertising solutions. Based on what we are hearing each and every day, I can tell you that the number today is probably closer to 25 percent!"
The local Advertiser Workshops in Springfield hosted by Mike Blinder, were conducted at the offices of the Illinois Press Association and featured information on the latest trends in online audience and how this information impacts local business owners, plus additional content centering on:
- The basics of effective advertising
- Why Online should be considered as a viable option
- How the Internet works in basic concepts
- How search (Yahoo!/ Google) works
- How to market Online
- Performing effective promotions (coupons, deals, offers/ specials)
- Targeting advertising effectively (Yahoo!)
The attendees left with powerful knowledge and good ideas (including the new sales program) for using the Web to grow their own business.
At the end of the Workshop, a questionnaire was distributed to all in order to for them to offer feedback on the program. Also, they were asked if they wish to be contacted by the local media company to learn more about the new product offerings displayed during the presentation. On average, over 70% of attendees requested to have a meeting with the media company to learn more about how they can purchase the local online solutions featured.
Meetings took place with the advertiser, directly after the workshop and during subsequent, sales calls that were scheduled at the event
Sales Call Assistance
After the advertiser workshops were complete, the Blinder Group stayed in the market to conduct "4-legged" sales training/closing calls with the newspaper sales reps. For these calls, salespeople set up a large amount of appointments with qualified decision-makers—many of which were in attendance at the advertiser workshops—so they could experience first-hand how to sell online products to their advertisers.
During the week that the sales calls are performed, daily reports were issued to sales management. These reports detailed whether the call was made in-front of a "qualified decision-maker." The result of the call. The amount of revenue generated. The amount of "pending" revenue that may require follow-up. And, the "odds-to- close" as predicted by the Blinder Group Associate (should the sale not be "closed" during this initial call).
After 5-days of sales training/closing calls with the reps, the Blinder Group achieved a 60% closing ratio during the initial visit when the call was performed in front of a qualified decision-maker generating $80,000 of new revenue.
"I thought the workshops were very effective. People didn’t feel they were beat over the head to buy something and several were anxious to get on the sales appointment calendar," says Gary Tyler, Director of Advertising for the State Journal-Register. "The workshops were invaluable not only to the advertiser, but for all the sales people that attended and heard Mike walk through the products." And having the Blinder Group stay in market after the advertiser workshops to assist in “4-legged” sales training/closing calls? "I felt like that whole week just reinforced what they had learned in the seminar."
[Download a PDF version of this study]
For Gatehouse Media’s (Springfield, IL) Journal-Register:
Gary Tyler, Director of Advertising
For The Blinder Group:
Mike Blinder, President
(727) 847-2464, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Blinder Group
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New Port Richey, FL 34652 USA
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