What works for McDonald's, works for classifieds, too

A packaged, quick order menu for upsells saves time and sells more

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One step Creative Circle takes in most classified redesigns is to sit in on some call center sessions to hear what users are asking and saying and how reps handle calls and upsells.

Over time, we have heard reps try to explain what borders or "attention getters" are and why upsells are a worthwhile investment for the advertiser. These pitches were often ineffective either because the rep failed to explain them well or because the customer couldn't visualize their ad with that upsell.

So we turned to McDonald's value meal menu for inspiration.

McDonald's packaged popular side dishes and sandwiches at a discount. Item #1 might be a Big Mac with fries and a drink. And you can "super size" it to get a large drink and fries.

Not only did this sell a lot more product, it also sped up the ordering process. "Give me a #1, please."

The same thing works in classifieds.

Rather than running lame house ads in the classified section (that often say nothing more than "Read the classifieds"), we like to use house space within the classified section to teach users about how to write or order effective ads. The whole notion that people understand classifieds, how to write them or even how to use them is misplaced. In focus groups, one issue that keeps people from turning to newspaper classifieds to sell or buy something is this lack of understanding.

Anyway, the result of our value menu in classifieds was simply a regular house ad that showed the same ad with several different upsells next to big numbers.

This is a fast, easy way to get users to understand the upsell process and it can be combined with tips, prices and reasons why they are effective. One thing every classified department should focus on is being instructional and helping advertisers learn the value or strategies of buying and selling in a classified marketplace.

Now sales reps on the phone can say "Do you have a newspaper handy? Look at page five and tell me how you want your ad to look." That makes the upsell much easier. Visuals work.

Better yet, it isn't long before advertisers start calling and saying "Give me a number three on that!"

And that is a real win.

Bill Ostendorf, president and founder of Creative Circle Media Solutions, is using his editorial, content and design background to bring fresh ideas to advertising and revenue. Bill has redesigned dozens of classified sections and his background as an editor helps him avoid getting caught up in the way we used to sell and package ads. Bill has also led the redesign of the editorial content of more than 500 publications as well has hundreds of media websites. He is a frequent lecturer on a wide range of media topics. Creative Circle also supplies custom CMS and web revenue software platforms to newspapers. Bill also led the team that designed and built snpa.org. To contact Bill, you can email him or call (401) 455-1555.

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