How to Sell Community Newspaper Advertising
As newspapers around the world struggle to stay afloat, it’s going to continue to be a challenge to keep advertisers interested in advertising in the print medium. You really have a leg up on the big boys, though, because you can deliver the local content they often lack -- and your readers often prefer. As a matter of fact, readership and advertising are on the rise for the free community newspaper industry, according to the Association of Free Community Papers.
You can throw a potential client off guard right from the start by agreeing with the most common objections you expect to hear. Disarm your prospects with an opening such as “I know newspaper advertising hasn’t worked for you in the past and that you don’t have any extra money this month for marketing. I get it.” This unexpected agreement leaves her little choice but to continue listening to your pitch. Note that another client who felt the same way tried your approach to newspaper advertising and is swimming in success. Bring a chart to illustrate your example and then leave. Let your words linger for a day or two before you revisit the prospect, allowing her a chance to mull over your numbers.
Invest a little time in research before you pitch your newspaper to a new client. If you are also the copywriter, create a spec ad for a client and bring it with you to show what you can do for the business. If you use another person to write your ad copy, brainstorm to come up with an ad that will grab the client’s attention. Visit the company store, if possible, and look around the company website to find out what’s important to that client and determine who makes up the primary target market. Bring a rough draft of the ad with you, but don't let it out of hand until the client has agreed to purchase the ad.
Keep current on all the events going on your community, including those scheduled in the future, and you’ll have a treasure trove of advertising ideas. If the town’s big art fair occurs in July, start pitching ads to your clients to target that art-loving crowd in early June. If your town plans a parade for a special homecoming for a soldier or celebrity, get your advertisers to post their own congratulatory letter in an ad.
For years, your paper has been selling banner ads and classifieds -- and you’ve mastered the lingo and the art of showing your clients how their ads will appear. Many businesses now want to run ads on your website that link to their sites and be able to tap into social media and mobile phone applications through the links. Develop packages that combine online and print ads for those clients targeting diverse audiences. Prepare sales presentations devoted solely to your paper’s online presence for those advertisers interested only in electronic promotions.