Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Often, our articles discuss sales techniques or your newspaper’s design in order to create the best consumer response. There is one thing that we don’t often discuss at Above the Fold and that is image construction. Since your advertisers value your advice, you may want to take some time to talk with them about the powerful impact images can have. Imagery is powerful because it is sensory, like touch and smell, and therefore more visceral than using words to convince a consumer of your client’s value. While an explanation of value is an inherently good attribute of your client’s advertising, you may want to guide them toward image-heavy ads that touch on their consumer’s senses rather than sensibilities. 

With March comes the beginning of spring, which means the melting of snow and the beginning of new life — and that includes your department! Rejuvenate your department this March with some of our suggestions below. Start planning great events for your community, great advertising opportunities for your clients and even better revenue potential for the newspaper. While typical March holidays like St. Patrick’s Day may already be on your horizons and an integral part of your advertising plans, we have some other holidays that might offer just as much revenue potential, if not more. Now’s the time to get creative in your advertising campaigns and event marketing so you can think of the next big revenue-maker for your newspaper.

When February rolls around, there might be a certain amount of listlessness in the air now that the holiday season has concluded. Make sure you keep spirits high in your community by creating lively and exciting events for your town while offering great advertising opportunities to your clients. Just because the budget-busting holidays have passed doesn’t meant that there aren’t any more revenue generation opportunities for your department. When we think of February, Valentine’s Day comes to mind without fail. You may think this is the only go-to February holiday for advertising campaigns and event marketing, but you’d be wrong. While you would be amiss to ignore Valentine’s Day this year, we’re here to offer you a few other holidays you might not have considered to make sure you keep your revenue stream active and lucrative during this relatively quiet month.

After the ball drops at midnight on Jan. 1, we all look for new beginnings and make resolutions to become our best selves, in hopes that this year will be better than the previous one. While the holiday season virtually comes to an end after New Year’s Eve, that doesn’t mean there are less opportunities to boost revenue in your department and for your advertisers. In fact, the ringing in of the New Year could mean a whole year’s worth of new profits if you look in the right places. Keep the holiday spirit going by focusing on New Year’s resolutions this January. We’ve selected a few holidays that focus on both personal and business resolutions to get you started. These ideas will be sure to encourage you, your advertisers and your readers to get the year off right, all while increasing your revenue!

As the ground begins to dry from the flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy, people’s power is restored, prospective marathoners help clean up and commuters are beginning to be able to get back to work. While the relief effort continues, some businesses are being criticized for their marketing efforts during the storm. These stores offered discounts or free shipping, causing many affected by the storm to cry out in anger, accusing the stores of trying to turn a disaster into a business opportunity. I would agree that the tone of many of the ads is both inappropriate and insensitive, however, there are ways to use natural disasters as part of marketing approach to both help the relief and get the local economy going again. Because a storm can stop people in their tracks, local businesses and customers alike risk losing their livelihoods. 

After Thanksgiving, it means one thing for advertisers and consumers alike: the holiday season! Christmas, Hanukkah and the New Year are only a few of the holidays celebrated during this month. This means big advertising dollar signs in the eyes of your department and your advertisers. After all, this time of year means consumers will be doing even more shopping than usual, trying to find the perfect gifts for their loved ones. Therefore, it only makes sense that you and the rest of your department are right there, making sure your clients are meeting the needs of local consumers, while also increasing their revenue. While end-of-the-year sales and Christmas Eve discounts are a great way to guarantee those profits, why not break away from the traditional holiday advertising techniques? Or, you could at least create additional advertising solutions that not only offer great revenue opportunities for your department and your clients, but also an ample amount of opportunities for your community to celebrate the holiday season. Create community-wide events and newspaper special sections to really get the newspaper and the whole community in the holiday spirit!

The Zeitgeist, a movement whose name has been re-appropriated to discuss issues of cultural importance and contemporary sensibilities, has become a technological concept. With the personalized news aggregation application Zite, available on most tablets and smartphones, users can create their own personalized magazine that shows articles about the topics they care about most. With continual use, Zite also learns user preferences, making the presented information truly customized to the sensibilities of the reader. 

Following the excitement of Halloween, November marks the transition from fall to winter, not to mention the beginning of the holiday season. Newspaper ad departments are certainly not strangers to planning Thanksgiving and Black Friday-themed advertising, and we are not suggesting that you stray from these holidays in your advertising. However, we have set aside a few other holidays that you may not have considered before, but offer just as many opportunities to generate revenue in your department!

This October, your ad department will undoubtedly offer some spooky, Halloween-themed advertising. While Halloween events, deals and discounts are a surefire way to boost revenue, why not think outside of the box this year? In addition to your traditional Halloween advertising, we have gathered a couple of October holidays that could also provide some new revenue opportunities for you ad department and spur some lively events for your community.

It’s the harvest season. The leaves are beginning to change color and farmers are beginning to reap the benefits of their bountiful harvests. Embrace the harvest theme this month and you’ll reap the benefits as well. Food, feasts and farmers markets all come to mind this month as fresh vegetables abound. Since this is a month for food, remember to embrace the foodie in your community and offer cooking schools and events. It’s also National Farm Safety and Health Month, so draw on that and honor the agricultural businesses that are the cornerstone of your community. Consider highlighting a special section in your automotive vertical that specifically features farm equipment. 

As summer is coming to a close, parents and children are preparing to head back to school. Which means, new clothes, new books, school supplies and more. The back-to-school season is a lucrative time of year for retailers, and advertisers shouldn’t be difficult to come by. Though many of the traditional ads fall into the retail realm, embrace this theme and apply it to the verticals. For instance, college kids are going back to school as well — and what better way to celebrate than a new car to get them from their dorms to classes. In real estate, last-minute rentals are important. Beef up the recruitment section with an afterschool-job section or a job fair for incoming college students.

While browsing the vast and never ending Internet to uncover interesting and juicy tidbits useful to Above the Fold readers, I came across and article called “Our Smartphones, Ourselves.” This article, written by Erika Morphy, a Forbes.com contributor discussed how out color choices when selecting smartphones is illustrative of our personality traits. Not only are 80% of these choices subconscious, but also they can help to describe much more that just behaviors. Apparently, users of different brands of phones smell differently too. Color me surprised, and also informed. Although, you, in the newspaper ad industry, cannot capitalize on the sale of smartphones, you can use this information to help your clients customize and tailor their ads to reflect consumer color choices and personality traits. 

As the election approaches, it’s important to think of the ways you can get your newspaper involved as community members prepare to practice their civil duty by voting and electing their representatives. However, when planning events or advertising during election season, it’s important to do so without being polarizing or partisan. Create engaging, but not divisive, events that offer locals an opportunity to become more involved in the election process. This will demonstrate your newspaper’s commitment to political awareness without picking sides, as well as an investment in your community. Below are a few examples of possible events your newspaper could organize for election season.

Rejuvenate sales this month with technology, color and graphics. Technology is advancing at astronomical rates, and it’s your job to be “in the know” for your community’s marketers. While some advertisers believe print is best for their demographic, a large majority see technology as the forefront of their marketing campaigns. Online strategies are useful, but are quickly becoming dated. Mobile is the hot new trend, and the most profitable to date. It is the here and now, allowing users instant access to their news, information and deals. By embracing mobile technology, classifieds can bring local advertising back as the front-runner in your community.

Memorial Day falls on May 28 this year, and it’s important you and your ad department do your part to show gratitude for the sacrifices made by veterans in your area. Get together and collaborate with local businesses and organizations to make the most of this Memorial Day weekend. It’s the perfect opportunity to host events for veterans and their families. Be sure to put a great amount of consideration and thought into your ads for this holiday, because it’s a day to remember those who have served and honor their dedication to the country. Ensure that your ads are both appropriate and respectful. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Summer is finally on the horizon and excitement is flowing through the office. With the weather outside sunny and bright, the productivity level inside your department may be a bit weak this June. So far this year you’ve given your staff their annual spring cleaning, began an ongoing training program for all staff members (not just rookie reps), learned to coach your staff with focus on their individual strengths and weaknesses and reprioritized your schedule while helping your staff to do the same. It’s been a busy first half of the year. Start off the second half of 2012 by fine tuning the tactics you’ve already established. Start co-training your staff. Allow the reps to help each other for greater individual success. Partner up a great pitcher with a solid closer and allow them to teach one another their techniques to attain greater sales numbers. Continue weekly meetings with individual staff members to focus in on their positive attributes and aid in the areas where they are struggling. Being an effective leader will bring greater productivity in these warm-weather months and will also increase your bottom-line.

You will find references to pop culture phenomenon everywhere, perhaps even places it doesn’t belong. People often shrug off the misuse of pop culture references; they understand the hype and go about their days. Other times, however, a misused reference can be a major faux pas, thus damaging a brand’s image. Knowing this, how do you negotiate the increasingly saturated and ever-changing pop culture market to give branding advice to your clients? The easiest answer is to know your reference. However, with the amount of pop culture influenced stimuli, that task could be difficult to accomplish. 

As the weather begins to warm in most places around the nation, students of all ages are preparing for the mid-semester spring break. While some schools — usually universities — host spring break at the end of February or in early March, many of your family readers will be vacating the area at the end of March or early April. Targeting your demographic, appealing to their needs and reaching outside of the box for the spring vacation season will help you garner more readers and incentivize advertising for your marketers. Creating a special section dedicated to spring break is one way to bring extra eyes to the newspaper and extra dollars to your department.

As the April showers turn to May flowers, rejuvenate your sales department! Spring, May in particular, is a time of rebirth and re-growth. Take a hint from Mother Nature and re-create your classified advertising sales. From training and coaching your staff to growing your readership, a few techniques this month will surely raise your revenue generation. In April, we suggested focusing your attention on training and coaching your staff. This month, concentrate on time management and prioritizing; both your schedule and your staff’s. With the end of the school year approaching, many of your sales reps will be looking to have their children home in a scholastic hiatus. Prioritizing tasks and managing the time they spend on sales calls will help them leave their work at work and their home life, appropriately, at home.

The biggest job growth has been seen in the 55 and older demographic, which is responsible for 3.2 million new workers since 2001, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We’re entering the age of the “Golden Boomers” — retired or soon-to-be retired baby boomers — but most of them don’t view retirement as their “golden years.” Many plan on pushing back retirement or expect to find new work to pad their incomes. The Wall Street Journal reports that 68 percent of current workers expect to work after they retire and AARP published that 8 out of 10 baby boomers plan to work in retirement. Since more and more seniors want to work (in some cases, employers prefer their skills over younger workers), it’s smart to target ads that recruit the retired. One reason that reps should target this audience, of course, is that they’re avid newspaper readers.

With the start of the third quarter now underway, it’s time to revive your staff’s sales strategies and bring in the highest numbers of the year. Last month, you gave your staff their annual spring cleaning, this month focus on training and coaching to further extend their sales potential and their service reach. After shaking up their accounts and ensuring their dedication to their positions, it’s important that you take the time to truly sit down with each sales rep and discuss what they’re doing appropriately and where they need improvement. Furthermore, once you’ve established what needs special attention, assign individualized tasks to allow them progression. You can also partner staff members together to aid in the joint efforts of improving your department. Surely, this sounds like a lot of work, but to ensure increased revenue this quarter, you must advance your staff’s abilities, and the only way to do that is by training and coaching.

This month, beyond the training, we’ve outlined a few ideas to help generate new and increased revenue. Think creatively, and encourage your staff to do so as well. Need inspiration? Check out our Business Building Calendar for extra ideas, or keep reading to find a few suggestions to impress your advertisers.

Spring, and the end of the second quarter, is just around the corner! As we prepare for the numbers to come in, rejuvenate your sales strategy for the advertising department. Keep your department on their toes by spring-cleaning your sales staff’s accounts; reassign inactive accounts from veteran and rookie sales reps alike. 

Also, use our ideas, and come up with your own using the Business Building Calendar to find new ways to generate new and increased revenue. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box this season, the market is revolutionizing; your ideas may be the next industry changer!

As the season of love approaches, lovers everywhere are searching for the perfect gift or gesture to make their sweetie swoon. What does that mean for local businesses? Traditional Valentines Day markets will be slammed. Restaurants, florists, candy shops, jewelry stores and card suppliers will all have their hands full during this niche market shopping spree. To capitalize on this rush, think about ways that each industry can customize a marketing campaign that will boost their sales even more, and put their business at the “top of the mind” for future purchases.

Today, most advertising departments are contracted to outsource their online recruitment advertising with Monster, Career Builder or another site of the like. Although these vendors may prove helpful in return versus expenditure ratios for your department, by allowing them to rule your recruitment section, you’re giving away valuable assets for your sales. Prior to creating any reformed strategies, be sure to check your company’s contract with the recruitment-listing vendor you’re using.