Here at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, we have identified an opportunity that I think all papers have but may not be exploring because of historical guidelines and challenges to changing culture.

We have a number of special sections, ongoing features and niche products that provide us with the chance to reach non-traditional advertising prospects — all of whom have digital marketing needs that go beyond the print and online ads that relate to those special products we offer.

We have dedicated one new digital specialist to work with all of our niche product sales reps with particular focus not only on securing online advertisers (and print advertisers in the respective sections, of course) but also exploring their digital needs. We’ll provide packages that serve a deeper set of needs within the given business category.

This approach will not only help us pitch our extended digital services (Web design, hosting and support, e-mail marketing, customer reputation management, search marketing, etc.) which I have blogged about before, but will also help us secure the clients through larger package values that include print solutions — thus using digital to acquire new print clients.

This approach requires us to ask more of our product specialists and also set up new compensation pipelines based on the specialist’s ability to maintain product budgets while collaboratively pitching extended digital services solutions with the digital niche rep. The reason for having product or special-section specialists or leads has always been to keep the focus on those products, so concerns over loss of focus on those products may arise when discussing having these reps involved in pitching additional services.

As long as the bulk of the follow-up work and digital product maintenance is done by the digital rep, these concerns should be abated. The niche product specialist merely opens more doors for the digital specialists in categories that the traditional staff is not likely to reach. The result should be more revenue generated by product specialists through traditional and non-traditional means.

The niche digital specialist has the incentive to oversee overall monthly revenue goals for each product Web site, but also to drive new business sales to these sites, products and additional services. Our other digital specialists in retail and classified also sell ads on these niche sites and offer additional digital services, so this focus adds to an ongoing effort but should also provide the creative energy that pushes these new revenue opportunities over the edge of true profitability.

We may stumble a bit on our way to figuring out how to push new revenue through some of these traditional pipelines, but I’ve always believed in the “have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet” philosophy — especially in times like these for newspapers. Stay tuned…