Australian Community Media grows revenue with new classifieds strategy

By James Caulfield

Australian Community Media, Fairfax Media

Sydney, NSW, Australia


Our connection to our local community forms the basis of everything we do at Australian Community Media.

But while working within a network of over 160 regional, rural, and community newspapers provided the valuable opportunity to engage our local audience, working within a declining category also posed some challenges.

We had a choice: do nothing or collaborate for a sustainable future. We decided to engage a fresh operational approach to classifieds, known as Connect with Classifieds.

Our vision consisted of three main elements:

  • Enhance our product.

  • Build skills in our team of over 240 sales representatives.

  • Engage customers with our products in new and exciting ways.

A sustainable future for classifieds wasn’t just a business goal – it meant securing our valuable connection to our local communities for years to come.

Our strategy began had a three S approach:

  • Standardise.

  • Simplify.

  • Share.

Implementation process

Australian Community Media conducted a country-wide review of our packages to create streamlined products that were consistent across our entire network. The result was packages that didn’t only sound more sophisticated and engaging; they looked it, too.

Australian Community Media's Connect with Classifieds campaign featured a new brand creative.
Australian Community Media's Connect with Classifieds campaign featured a new brand creative.

An entirely new brand creative was developed for Connect with Classifieds, designed to align with our classifieds sale strategy. This resulted in 6,396 pieces of bright, engaging creative designed to give our classifieds a fresh new look and feel.

These creative elements are fun, attention-grabbing, and engage our audiences both in print and online, as well as within the classifieds section and beyond the pages of the publications.

We created 28 campaign channels in niche categories such as baby announcements, Mother’s Day accolades, car sales, and others. This allowed our nationwide sales teams to promote niche categories that we knew our customers were interested in.

Sales training and audience engagement

Once we had refined our packages to look and sound great, it was then time to upskill and support our star sales teams right across the network. Our sales team was the key to creating a sustainable and happy customer base, who would have an experience with our classifieds that would keep them coming back again and again.

We hosted dozens of Australia-wide training sessions for 240 sales staff in 32 central locations across all seven states and territories. No regional, suburban, or rural site was left behind!

Finally, we created opportunities for our audience and customers to engage with classifieds. To do this, we made simple operational changes such as providing a single contact for customers across the entire network, and incentivising repeat business with our new interpersonal sales approach.


Australian Community Media realised A$4.5million in recognised revenue, with an even split across cross-selling and multi-insertion revenue. This blew away all initial revenue and volume expectations for the campaign.

Connect With Classifieds targeted categories like weddings and baby announcements.
Connect With Classifieds targeted categories like weddings and baby announcements.

The positive effects of these results reverberated nationwide through our sales teams and beyond:

  • We had more deeply engaged and confident sales teams, focused on providing viable commercially-minded solutions to our valued customer base.

  • We had an exciting new look and feel for our brand, with vibrant creative items breathing new life into classifieds across the publications and beyond.

  • Perhaps most importantly, we had created more opportunities for growth and improvement for one of our most mature revenue streams.

Connect with Classifieds has laid the foundation for a more sustainable classifieds revenue stream for our business. It created a future platform to introduce more customer-focussed growth initiatives, such as our self-service 24/7 online solution and other exciting promotional opportunities on our horizon.

We’re also looking forward to the rollout of our second phase: Connect with Customers. By improving phone-based selling, refreshing our trades and services product, and supporting our sales teams with commissions, we look forward to continuing to move classifieds into the future.  

About James Caulfield

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