A dozen ideas that deliver revenue
In David Letterman style (but with two additional items), Tom Yunt sent attendees at the SNPA-Inland Annual Meeting home with a dozen ideas that will drive revenue for their newspapers. Ninety-nine percent of what he talked about was focused on the core product – print; not digital. Yunt is COO of United Communications Corporation, Kenosha, Wisc., which publishes the daily Kenosha News, two additional dailies, several weeklies and several television stations.
Idea #12 - Bundle Up!
Don't just encourage your ad sales staff to think print and digital, Yunt said. Have them also include classified and subscriptions, especially added subscriptions delivered to business addresses. "Any time you can get your advertising staff to be an extension of your circulation department, you've got a win-win scenario," he said.
He also suggested having a mandatory number of calls to be made daily and during the week, and – more importantly – specifying two things that should be in every presentation to advertisers: an AdSeller presentation (when done properly, Yunt said the close ratio with AdSeller presentations is about 42 percent) and ad specs.
Idea #11 - Why Reinvent the Wheel?
E&P's 10 Newspapers That Do it Right give other newspapers a great deal that they can learn from. He suggested contacting those papers, getting a temporary subscription to their paper, looking at their online presence, asking for their media kits and – if possible – asking the publisher if you can spend a day at their paper. By walking around and talking with some of their employees, attending meetings and trying to understand their philosophy, you'll get a better idea of how they are reaching their benchmarks.
Idea #10 - Four-legged sales calls with the publisher!
During a previous Annual Meeting session, Tom Silvestri, president and publisher of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, encouraged publishers to become the chief marketing officer for their paper. Yunt said he wanted to take this one step forward and urged publishers to also become the chief revenue officer.
"Nothing sends a stronger signal to your perspective or existing advertisers than when your advertising reps make a four-legged sales call with the publisher," Yunt said.
He said, "From a rep's standpoint, it's scary as hell." But, it will really make an impression on an advertiser as to how important their business is to your operation.
Idea #9 - Brown-bag sessions with advertisers!
Yunt said one of his goals at the Kenosha News next year is to hold a weekly meeting with targeted advertisers at the paper. One of the biggest frustrations most newspapers have with their advertisers is finding the time to have in-depth, quality conversations with them about their business, the newspaper and how to connect the two.
In addition to including advertising reps in these meetings, he suggested broadening this to include the publisher, an editor, a circulator and some members of the digital team. When you bring your clients to the newspaper, feed them, thank them for their business and make them feel special; you'll be more successful in the long-term.
Idea #8 - It's all about her!
The Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa, publishes a magazine called HER that has become a significant revenue stream for the newspaper. The magazine notes that 85 percent of consumer spending is influenced by women. "The bottom line," Yunt said: "If you want to reach the decision maker – the influencer on goods and services – this is a significant category." For newspapers that aren't currently taking advantage of this, he said it could be a really good opportunity.
Idea #7 - Start a war
Yunt and his wife have lived in Kenosha for about 18 months and she recently become a realtor. To brand herself, she began running 2x2 ads every day in the Kenosha News (see middle ad above).
Yunt said a second realtor showed up in the paper about a month later and a few days later, a third realtor began running ads. "It's all about one-upmanship. It's all about egos," he said. He suggested that newspapers target these affordable, frequent and long-term ads at lawyers, doctors, plastic surgeons and others. He said, "If you can get a handful to run on a frequency schedule, you'll find that other dominos will start falling in place."
Idea #6 - Everyone samples
About a year ago, the Kenosha News began getting all of its employees – expecially those who work outside the building – to start carrying cards that offer a 28-day free trial subscription – in print or digitally. If they talk with someone who doesn't read the paper, they give them one of these cards. It's an actionable way to get the paper in their hands.
He said the paper also runs one annual company-wide subscription drive where the staff competes to gain new subscribers. "First and foremost," Yunt said, "it reinforces to all of our employees how important readership and circulation is to our whole business model. It's also sort of fun when you get these competitions going between departments."
Idea #5 - B2B is BIG BIZ!
Business to Business niche publications are a great way to connect newspapers with the business community. Yunt suggested reaching out to the the local Chamber of Commerce, to economic development groups, city and county governments, and more to talk about producing a B2B publication for them. He said B2B publications typically work well in any size market that has a 10,000 circulation paper or larger.
Idea #4 - How can small businesses compete with Amazon?
Yunt cited a recent article in USA TODAY: "How can small businesses compete with Amazon?"
He noted that the article outlined four premises to compete: that business has to be unique, it has to be very local, it has to figure out a way to differentiate itself from its competitors, and it has to really learn how to love its customers.
This presents a revenue opportunity for newspapers. Yunt said he plans to suggest to his publisher in Kenosha that they hold four symposiums next year and invite businesses in to talk about how the paper can assist them in reaching those goals.
He said there isn't a mom or pop retailer in the country right now "that isn't shaking in their boots over what Amazon is doing" to the retail world. "If there's a way we can leverage our ability and our knowledge of the marketplace with our marketing skills and the services we can provide, we can become consultants for local advertisers on how they can compete."
Idea #3 - It's a wrap!
The Kenosha News plans to steal the New York Times' idea for wrap sections, which offer true front-page advertising in a manner that is less intrusive to readers than ads printed on the front page.
He suggested that these would be appealing opportunities to companies that want to tell their own stories, for example two hospitals that are merging. Companies that publish annual reports, are celebrating significant anniversaries, etc., also would find wrap sections a great advertising buy.
"Is your newsroom going to like it," Yunt asked. "Probably not. Is this a great marketing opportunity for your advertisers? I think it is."
He suggested that this is something newspapers would want to do sparingly, as there will be a limited number of advertisers who could afford to do this.
Idea #2 - Don't tell Lucy!
Last year, the Kenosha News launched a four-hour telemarketing promotion in which all ad reps were in the office from 1-5 p.m. to sell as many discounted full- and half-page ads as they could. The promotion, named for the company CEO, generated 44 full-page ads and 111 half-page ads, totaling more than $60,000 in revenue.
If you really want to have fun with this one, Yunt suggested that you schedule this in 2018 on Friday, April 13. The marketing angle: "You thought Friday the 13th was unlucky? This is your lucky day!"
Idea #1 - Change ... NOW
Acknowledging the many outside forces competing against newspapers, Yunt said some of the biggest challenges come from within. He said many newspapers need to change in a way that will be uncomfortable for their operation and culture.
A common theme throughout the Annual Meeting, he said, was the value of newspaper sales departments. Yet, many newspapers can't get good sales people, keep good sales people, and they accept mediocrity in their sales departments.
He urged newspapers to invest in training and development of their staffs, including a weekly sales training meeting in addition to the traditional sales staff meetings.
Silos between departments need to be knocked down, he said, and employees need to be held accountable under a performance-based plan.
"As you make your budgets for 2018, find some dollars and resources to put back into training your sales force."