Run Till It $ells
Regenerating an old classifieds strategy
As media companies seek out new sources of revenue, some are turning back to older strategies that once fattened newspapers. During the recent SNPA P2P video conference on classified advertising, several participants detailed variations of "Run Till It Sells," in which the advertiser pays one flat price to run an ad virtually indefinitely.
This week the eBulletin looks at a Savannah Morning News program targeting real estate agents. Next week we'll examine how two companies are ramping up vehicle sales.
"I was sitting around trying to think of different categories of business that need to do a better job of promoting themselves that we aren't really getting that much action from," said Chris Corey, vice president of advertising for the Savannah Morning News and Savannahnow.com in Georgia. "We got business from builders and we got business from brokers but not really the individual agents."
He estimates there are 2,000 agents in the area. Agents would advertise their open houses, but one agent could only host one open house each week. Those agents who did advertise in the Sunday paper usually placed a single listing.
"Then it just kind of popped in my mind – the old Run Till It Sells program," Corey said. "At the time I had no idea if this was going to work or not."
Today's version is "on steroids," as he describes it. For $375, the agent gets a 90-day placement for a single-family home for sale with a color print ad in the Sunday real estate section and presence on the website, on the rotation in a weekly website slide show and on social media. Or, for $500, the package runs until the home sells.
Once a house is placed under contract, the ad continues with an "under contract" banner. When the sale closes, a "sold" banner is added for one more week before the ad ends. The Morning News then sends an email blast to agents notifying them that a space has become available. That's about the extent of the sales work, Corey said.
"It has really fattened up our real estate section," he said. "We're getting revenue from agents where we never would have gotten them in the past, so that's nice. And it's also providing some really nice Sunday content for our newspaper as well. Out of a 14-page section, I'd say 12 of the pages are the Run Till It $ells program."
Not only are open slots snapped up quickly, homeowners themselves have seen the promotional ads for the program and ask their agents to get in it.
"The cool thing about it is, now people who are the homeowners are asking the agent, 'Hey, look, you've got to do this.' So we have a sales force out in the community in people who are the homeowners seeing this campaign happening," Corey said.
Revenue has averaged $6,500 a month since the program began in June of 2017. In some months, it has risen to $8,000.
"I think it's been a home run for us," Corey said.
For more information, reach Chris Corey at email@example.com.
Jane Nicholes, a regular contributor to the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association's eBulletin, is a freelance writer and editor based in coastal Alabama. She is an award-winning veteran of more than 30 years in the newspaper business. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.