Special sections and banner ads alone are not going to see news advertising organisations grow beyond where many of them currently stand.
For us to make true progress and not only see larger revenue gains but also become a vital cog in our local marketing wheels, we’re going to have to prove how invaluable we can be to local business. This takes creativity and strategic positioning, and in some cases a retraining of the sales organisation. We’ve got to go beyond the servicing of accounts through standard print and online ad options to become real media marketing consultants.
At the Las Vegas Review-Journal, we’re approaching our advertisers with this expanded consultant mentality on the digital side. We’re presenting them with programmes that include traditional print and fairly standard online ad placements, but also consulting with them on their mobile and social strategies as well as their Web site purpose and goals. We’re assessing our clients’ needs on analysis calls, returning to the office to share them with a fulfillment team, determining difficulty and internal costs of the tasks requested, then pricing and proposing back to the client.
Our level of flexibility increases daily on the services and programmes we offer. While we can’t do absolutely everything, we’re doing as much as we can to avoid saying, “We can’t do that.”
Not all of the services we’re offering have a huge profit margin built in, but we’re gaining market share, maintaining the relationships and keeping our competitors out of our clients’ offices. Additionally, these services are proving to our clients that we have their best marketing interests at heart and that we have a vested interest in their success in the digital space. In doing so, we’re seeing growth in spending from the more traditional side, which is of course more profitable than many of these services.
The timeline and process of introducing ourselves into the marketplace as a company that can provide more than just traditional advertising services has been lengthy and challenging. Since our industry has so publicly lagged in its adoption of digital ways, it’s been particularly challenging to rebrand our image as multi-media specialists. But we’re determined, and we are making progress.
Our advertisers are looking for more than the standard channel advertising, and there is certainly no shortage of alternative (mostly Web-based) companies calling on them day and night to pitch their services (usually at the expense of the newspaper budget).
We’ve got to show our local markets that we can be flexible and creative. If we fail to successfully convey this to our local businesses (or worse, fail to actually be flexible and creative while effectively and falsely marketing ourselves as such) then we risk meeting the same fate as Borders — a company that could not adapt fast enough in the face of mass consumer technology adoption.