Third times a charm for Forsyth County News

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For a brief over view of this event, check out this video.

The Idea

The Forsyth County News is a small-market paper with a circulation of 12,000. A tri-weekly, it aims to deliver the best print and digital news platforms to residents of Georgia's fast-growing, most-affluent and healthiest county.

Other publications have been running ballots for years, but Best of Forsyth has proven itself as a leader with its third year of voting and, yet again, increased revenue.

With the conclusion of its third annual ballot, the staff has seen valuable success in readership, sponsorship and revenue. Here's how they went above and beyond the first two runs with the 2017 Best of Forsyth ballot.

The Execution

Beginning in October of 2016, members of the community voted for their favorite restaurants, salons, attorneys, gyms and more. Getting the community engaged and giving businesses their chance to advertise was a win-win for Forsyth.

It was also a positive for the Forsyth County News, as the paper received more than 7,500 email opt-ins from voters who signed up to vote and receive further updates.

The team sold sponsorships ranging from $499 to $20,000 that included expanded listings, banner ads on the site, daily site backgrounds on forsythnews.com and email ads. The team also sold packages of print and online ads that promoted individual nominees during the nomination and voting periods, and added event sponsorships to the packages, which was a large area of growth from the previous year.

After the voting and nomination periods in the Fall, they announced the 243 winners in January. But rather than just featuring winners in a special edition magazine like the year prior, they decided to go one step further.

They enhanced the ballot experience this year with the Best of Forsyth: Red Carpet Event. It was a success, with 500 attendees and a plethora of added opportunities for sponsors to advertise. Not only were there enhanced listings, banner ads and category sponsors online, there also was a title sponsor for the event and other event sponsors, as well as direct revenue from ticket sales.

Winners were invited to accept their award and were given a window cling and a plaque at this event; these are both pieces of recognition they may display to let customers know what they have accomplished.

For the newspaper, Best Of Forsyth is a year-round event. Advertisers are constantly talking with them about their win, planning on how to win it next year, and raving about the many new customers Best Of has brought to them. To maintain the excitement, they include Best Of in a prominent space on their website and daily email newsletter year-round.

They also published a glossy magazine that features the winners and highlights more sponsors; this, in turn, creates further revenue for both the newspaper and clients.

The Results

The 2017 Best of Forsyth ballot brought more than $200,000 in direct revenue, which more than doubled the total from last year's ballot. It far outshines any other promotion that has run before.

The ballot received a total of 230,258 votes within the 243 categories. In addition, a total of over 7,500 email opt-ins were generated. There was a 100 percent increase in sales because of this ballot.

The Forsyth County News' brand is larger than ever before, with local businesses viewing the paper as a distinguished authority in the community. Businesses proudly hang window clings and banners in their windows to let the community know that they are one of Forsyth's best.

Best Of has only grown through the years after beginning in 2015, doubling in both audience and revenue each consecutive year.

With the constant buzz around the contest, as well as having Forsyth's largest black-tie event, you can only imagine what the 2018 Best of Forsyth contest may bring.

Matt Coen is the president and co-founder of Second Street, a leading provider of private-label online promotions platforms and partner success services for media companies based in St. Louis, Mo. He can be reached at (314) 880-4902 or matt@secondstreet.com.

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