Texas Center for Community Journalism
Fredericksburg, Texas / June 21, 2019
What I Don’t
It used to be you knew who
your competitors were
because they lived in your
town, sent their kids to the
same schools and showed up
at the same Chamber
meetings. The world has
In today’s world, even in
small markets, they have to
perform at a high level if
you’re going to grow
revenue and beat the
Dress appropriately for situation
Make eye contact
Speak clearly & conﬁdently
Show up on time
Use manners & sit up straight
Quote right price
Basic product knowledge
Eﬀectively resolve conﬂicts
Listen actively & understand
Manage time & set priorities
Adapt approach to diﬀerent people
Ask open-ended questions
“Wants” vs. “needs”
“Features” vs. “beneﬁts”
In-depth competitor knowledge
Understand advertiser strategy
Move prospect thru sales process
With so many ways to spend
their advertising budgets,
business owners are
becoming less likely to sign
a long-term contract. But
you don’t want to lose their
dollars or go week to week.
You need a NEW PLAN.
Sample Rate Structure
Spend Rate Q-1 Q-2 Q-3 Q-4
I Need a
Easier to keep advertiser on track
Easier to sell than long-term
More competitive with other media,
Keeps you in the game each
Easier to show results for the
• Short-term planning easier
• Ensures ads run in timely fashion
• More focused ad messages
OK, here are FIVE.
You shouldn’t change your
rates willy-nilly, of course.
But it doesn’t have to be a
long, tiring, hand-wringing
process either. Here are a
Work backwards: Determine highest %
discount you’ll give for highest spending.
Base your rates on three-year historical
spending and rates for the top 20-50
advertisers rather than all customers.
Don’t be afraid to ask for signed contract.
This is change. Ad reps hate change. Tell
them to get over it. Nicely. But ﬁrmly.
“Special” situations. Build the rate structure
for newspaper, then make allowances for
the few accounts that don’t ﬁt.
Spoiler alert: There is no
tower, there is no studio,
they’re not a network
afﬁliate. But WKM does have
a gaudy news van…and a
You don’t have to go all-in
on WKM’s model. You don’t
even need a gaudy van.
This is most deﬁnitely
Rule 1: Facebook ﬁrst.
Rule 2: You’re not a newspaper.
Rule 3: You’re not a TV station.
All-in: Green room. Logo van, TV news video
equipment. Designated staﬀ (minimum 2
people). Professional editing software. Website
separate from newspaper. Facebook page
separate from newspaper. Money for Facebook
boosting and ads. Next step: Instagram.
Toe in the water: iPhone or inexpensive
camera for video. iMovie for editing (or run raw
video). Newspaper reporter(s). Voice-over rather
than on-camera reporting. Separate Facebook
page. Run on newspaper website.
Charge for video views
• On the website
• In-banner video
• Social media platforms
Charge for banner/tile ads
• By number of impressions
• By share of voice
• By cost per thousand
Charge for production
• Social media videos
• Training videos
• Business self-promotion
Too often newspapers let
their advertising rates sit
dormant, or simply change
them with across-the-board
percentages. But there are
some easy ways to use your
rates to put money on the
Raise the open rate to pave the way for
contract discounts and other special rates.
Seasonal rates for non-contract advertisers.
Prime Day surcharge for non-contract
advertisers on big days like Thanksgiving
edition, fair week, etc.
Saturation rate for all advertisers when you
Out-of-market rate for non-local
businesses. Could be higher or lower than
local rates depending upon your goal.
So your website trafﬁc
undoubtedly dwarfs every
other site in your market.
But too often it’s sold as an
add-on to the newspaper. Or
an ad in a special section.
There’s a better way. Here it
is, step by step.
Step 1. Determine how many monthly
pageviews your site generates on average.
Step 2. Identify highly read pages you could sell
at a premium (Hint: obits and record items).
Step 3. What will your ad server do and not do?
(Rotate three ads on leaderboard, for example)
Step 4. Determine how many ad positions can
work on your site without looking crowded.
Step 5. Determine the “share of voice” each ad
spot will receive.
Step 6. Set the cost per thousand views; $10 is
a good place to start.
Lots of reasons. Mostly
because you’re bringing
order and accountability to
your website ad sales. We’ll
illustrate with this
Madison Courier 2019 Website Inventory January February March April May June
1) Craig Toyota $450 $450 $450 $450 $450
2) KDH $450 $450 $450 $450 $450
3) Koehler Tires $450 $450 $450 $450 $450
4) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
5) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
1) Advantage Home Health $299 $299 $0 $0 $0
2) Alcorn, Sage, Schwartz & Magrath $250 $250 $250 $250 $250
3) Brenda's Accounting & Tax Service $0 $250 $250 $250 $250
4) Farmers Bank of Milton $350 $350 $350 $350 $350
5) Great Clips $249 $250 $250 $250 $250
6) Greves TV & Appliance $299 $350 $350 $350 $350
7) Madison Apothecary $299 $350 $350 $350 $350
8) Century 21 $0 $0 $250 $250 $250
9) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
10) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
11) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
12) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
1) Big O Tires $369 $370 $370 $370 $370
2) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
3) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
4) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
728x90 Obit page only
1) Lytle-Welty Funeral Homes $0 $350 $350 $350 $350
2) Community Foundation of Jefferson Co. $0 $350 $350 $350 $350
300X250 Obit page only
1) Searcy Monument Co. $99 $200 $200 $200 $200
2) Morgan & Nay Funeral Centre $0 $300 $300 $300 $300
3) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
4) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
5) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
6) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
7) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
8) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
9) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total $3,564 $5,019 $4,970 $4,970 $4,970
Waiting on answer from:
Goals automatically set.
Easy to see what’s sold and what’s not.
Waiting list for advertisers to move up.
Subscribers until they die, barring a huge
screwup by the newspaper.
Make sure paper gets there on time, in
right place & in good condition.
Back & Forth
Sometimes subscribe, sometimes buy on
Stop Saver = “Let’s make a deal.”
Buy a single copy once in a while or, more
likely, when prompted.
Three things: 1) front page, 2) front page,
3) easily seen at outlet
How people buy newspapers
in small markets mostly has
to do with generational
them is the key to effective
Subscription is a habit as long as no
“perfect storm” when up for renewal.
Best prospects for Stop Saver.
Regularly buy single copies as part of their
routine or lacking money for a subscription.
Three things: 1) on time to outlet, 2) easy
to ﬁnd, 3) front page.
subscribing for a variety of
reasons. Problems with
delivery service. Ran out of
money before bills. If you’re
going to try to keep them
with a Stop Saver program,
here are some guidelines.
Rule 1: It’s easier to keep a
subscriber before you stop
sending them a paper.
Stick with it. Every day. Every week. Every
month. Not “when we have time.”
Call people in the evening or on weekends,
not during business hours (possible
exception: cell numbers).
If you have to mail/email people, give them
beneﬁts of subscribing, not “We miss you.”
Track results at every step of the process.
Save your best oﬀer as a last resort. Don’t
give it away up front.
You don’t have to create
product from scratch.
Vendor partnerships can
get you in the game quicker.
Here are ﬁve we’ve
High-quality content & upscale print
niche products aimed at bringing
back advertisers who have left
newspapers for shiny magazines.
Work on site with your sales team
to sell more of your own website
inventory & for longer
An integrated marketing solution
involving gift certiﬁcates and an
e-commerce site for your readers
to buy the certiﬁcates at
White label widget-based platform
that lives on your website. You
become the “publisher” of
community’s social media.
Digital display ads on national
websites, but shown only in
areas & on relevant websites.
Use the code TCU2019
before the end of this year
and receive special pricing.
• $200 oﬀ prep fee
• 25% revenue share (vs. 30%)
on sales up to $25,000
• 20% revenue share (vs. 25%)
on sales over $25,000
• 1st month platform fee
• No travel cost other than
food & lodging
• 1st month platform free with 6-
month agreement ($299 value)
• Discount of $1 per 1,000
impressions for any campaign
50,000 impressions+ per month
• $200 oﬀ setup fee (normally
• No per-advertiser fees for ﬁrst
• 15% oﬀ monthly
• 3% discount on content and/
• Can pay monthly or annually
In a Class
You can give your classiﬁeds
new life and generate
additional revenue by
selling a “sponsorship” for
each category and giving it
Sponsor gets ﬁrst spot in category.
Put a screen over the ad or logo
naming them as “category sponsor.”
Sell for minimum 3- to 6-month
Premium position = premium price.
Let’s Look at the Numbers
20 classiﬁed categories
Each sponsor pays $30 per week
x 52 weeks
= $31,200 new revenue in a year
Look for non-traditional or non-local
advertisers, not your regulars.
Well-designed rack cards are
advertising for newsstand
sales, grabbing attention and
inﬂuencing impulse buyers.
This is how you do rack
Back-to-School Supply Lists
Special Section inside
Not gonna lie, hawkers
require time and
persistence from your
circulation manager, both to
set up and to oversee. Still,
they generate a lot of
attention for your
newspaper. And advertisers
beneﬁt might be
Independent contractors: Get signed
agreements and issue 1099s at year’s end.
Sell them papers at wholesale rate. They should
pay you up front. Deﬁnitely.
Expect them to earn tips from regular buyers.
They will ﬁnd the best places to sell on their
own…And they will become territorial.
They likely will involve their family members.
Still putting out those same
special sections, calling on
every business in town to
meet the revenue goal? Quit.
Just quit. Seriously. There’s
a better way.
If you can’t get a premium rate,
question whether you even
should be doing the section.
Value = matching speciﬁc readers with
speciﬁc advertisers eager to reach those
Value = unique, useful, entertaining and
compelling content, not generic ﬁller.
Value = selling to relevant advertisers, not
everyone you think you can talk into buying
an ad. Think “frame of mind.”
Newspaper WIFMs: less time away from
other sales, higher average rate, less likely to
Value = ad that actually accomplishes
something important for the advertiser.
The Mom and Pop service
businesses are out there
promoting what they do,
always looking to stretch
their small advertising
budgets as far as possible.
Give them as much value as possible for
a small investment.
Go for longterm commitment.
Sell by phone, and not with your outside
House ads promote to readers, not to
If they have a physical storefront, they do
not belong here.
Sample Value Package
• B/W or color ad in the paper every week.
• Online ads in color and hyperlinked to their website,
Facebook page or email.
• 100 free business cards.
• Free help wanted classiﬁed ad 2x per year.
So many good ideas. Which
will make you famous, which
will ﬂop? How do you
evaluate them? Trial and
error? Coin toss? Stay in
your comfort zone? You
need a PROCESS.
Does this make sense? Seriously. After running the numbers
and talking it over, does this make sense? (But don’t
confuse “making sense” with “feeling comfortable.”)
Bob the Builder Versus “I Ain’t Doin’ It”
This is all about the willingness and ability of your sales reps. Will
they support this? Even if they love it, do they have the necessary,
speciﬁc skills to make the venture successful?
Swimming in Cash, Treading Water or …?
If you’re operating nicely in the black or have cash in the bank, you
have more options: longer timeframe for payoﬀ, riskier, etc. If
you’re barely making it, opt for quicker return and more certainty.
ROI and MPH
Consider opportunity costs. Then look at them again. Jot down
costs and realistic revenue projections, month by month. Which
projects will put the most on your bottom line — and the quickest?
New day. Fresh