GREAT IDEAS

New- and old-style marketing in Oklahoma City

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The Oklahoman Media Co. generated hundreds of advertising leads with one new marketing initiative while creating a popular new event from its traditional emphasis on prep sports.

Since March, the company has generated 850 new leads through a LinkedIn B2B marketing system, according to Lawre Everest, creative director for Oklahoman Media. To say it has exceeded expectations is an understatement.

"LinkedIn is expensive, definitely one of the more expensive social media tools, but because it's solely B2B it's perfect to use. You can drill down on the geographic area, the job, the industry," Everest said. "Whatever you want to drill down on, you can. You can hit the people you want to hit."

Everest said she suggested testing the system as a way to expand specific verticals. "We went after health care, real estate, restaurants, automotive and financial services."

The test began with real estate and generated so many leads it quickly expanded to the other verticals. Here's how it works:

Using health care as an example, Everest first targeted people in Oklahoma on LinkedIn. From that group she targeted those in health care, excluding people whose jobs are entry level, internships, unpaid, and so on. She only wanted to target managers and above, with the intention of reaching decision-makers.

The final group receives an ad showcasing the company's research on its target vertical demographics compared with local media. Also included is information about advertising capabilities and what Oklahoman Media can do for them.

The recipient is invited to fill out a form that comes back to the company. If the lead is determined to be qualified, it is directed to the appropriate advertising representative to follow up.

The system also records the CTR, or click-through rate. If a recipient doesn't fill out the form but clicks through the LinkedIn ad, he or she is directed to the business page on the Oklahoma City website where there is more information on its advertising and marketing services along with another form to fill out.

LinkedIn has assigned a representative so Everest has someone to work with. LinkedIn also responds quickly when there's a problem, she said.

LinkedIn works with the budget set by the user and allows the user to limit daily spending, she said.

"It's definitely been a great campaign that's been doing what we want it to do," Everest said. "It continues to bring in leads, and right now we're transitioning into a holiday marketing push."

On the event side, Oklahoman Media has turned its traditional all-city prep honors for high school athletes into a well-attended banquet honoring the winners. The Oklahoman newspaper prides itself on offering the most extensive coverage of high school sports in the area. "Our sports team is a pretty good-sized team, so they can cover a lot of ground," Everest said.

Although football is of course highly popular in Oklahoma, the awards event encompasses 12 high school sports. The first event last year featured Peyton Manning as guest speaker; this year's dinner, held in June at a city convention center, featured Venus Williams.

Attendance was 1,100 including 500 high school athletes, their parents, and event sponsors. A portion of the proceeds was donated to a nonprofit, while the paper recorded a return on investment of 27 percent.

Athletes are selected by the sports staff. Winners attending the event receive medallions and trophies are awarded to overall winners in each sport, the high school athlete of the year, team of the year, and others.

Everest said Oklahoman Media's new owner, GateHouse Media, has promoted similar events. The event and the paper's commitment to prep sports coverage have an altruistic motive as well as a financial one.

"They're great events to promote your high school sports teams and just high school sports in general, because they're just so important for kids and [research shows] that kids do better in school when they're part of a sports team," Everest said.

"We really want to promote that because we really believe in it, which is why we decided to go from just presenting the kids in the newspaper to creating an event for them. It shows how much we care about what they're doing and who they are."

For more information, reach Lawre Everest at leverest@oklahoman.com.


Jane Nicholes

Jane Nicholes is a veteran journalist based in coastal Alabama and is a regular contributor to SNPA. Reach her at jbnicholes@att.net.

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