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12-month ad commitments make for a good year at the Pierre Capital-Journal

A Revenue Idea That Worked

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Educating advertisers is a key part of a salesperson’s job. Educating salespeople turned out to be a valuable part of a revenue program the Capital Journal in Pierre, S.D., launched this summer.

The program, designed by The Blinder Group’s Mike Blinder, sought to sign advertisers up for a 12-month commitment to a mix of print and digital advertising that included social media, sponsored content and programmatic ad placements.

It launched with a good deal of training for the newspaper’s sales team, Publisher John Clark said. They became acquainted with the sales opportunities in such newer media as Google, Facebook and programmatic advertising.

“They learned a lot of the other options advertisers now have,” Clark said. “So much has changed, of course. The competition is no longer just a print publication or broadcast.”

The push for advertisers began with two seminars for SMB owners and managers. Of the two dozen or so merchants who attended, a half-dozen signed up for the program right away. More signed up after four-legged sales calls with a Capital Journal salesperson paired with a Blinder Group consultant.

The program was limited to 20 advertisers, and the Capital Journal signed 19. The advertisers were a mix of new accounts and existing accounts who committed to a bigger spend, Clark said.

“We did add one new category—programmatic,” he said. “We had local (businesses) who were in market outside Pierre but typically did not have access to advertising there on their own.”

The program has been a success, Clark and Blinder report. Pierre generated more than $130,000 in new revenue. Combined with sister newspapers, Wick Communications generated $550,000 in five small markets, Blinder said.

Perhaps ironically, one key facet of the program—the promise of sponsored content produced and vetted by the newsroom—did not particularly take off, Clark said.

“It seemed the advertisers and the ad reps couldn’t get their heads around the separation of sponsored content from news,” Clark said.

Nevertheless, he added, “It did work.”