Newspaper Reps Need to Offer Their Customers More Assistance

Few customers would enter a bakery to buy a cake and expect to make the batter yourself. Nor would they schedule repair work on their car and assume they’d have to provide all the parts.

Selling newspaper and shopper advertising is more difficult today than it was a few years ago. The online reading habits of the younger generation is one reason. Increased forms of competition and the current COVID-19 restrictions are two more.

But the potential market is still large, and the opportunities are still great. As I’ve said over and over in my seminars: “Advertisers want to advertise. They just don’t know when, where, what and how!” Local businesses need and deserve all the encouragement and hands-on help the sales consultant can provide.

More than ever it is the job of the advertising professional to do the hard work for the customer. That includes helping the client choose the best publications, sections and most compatible promotions, suggesting the best times to advertise, helping the advertiser select what to advertise, and with professional help — usually working with the in-house creative department — writing the copy and designing the ad.

At our publishing firm we’ve been able to sell difficult or indecisive buyers by sharing a well-thought-out package of locally produced, ready-to-print ads featuring various headlines, art and copy.

We call the customized approach “Project Five” and the print-ready, actual-size ads are presented in a color folder imprinted with the “Project Five” logo.

Completing the package can sometimes require teamwork among the company’s various departments. The salesperson determines what products might be featured and gathers the important details. A staff photographer sometimes is needed to shoot the perfect image. The sales manager or a staff writer might be called on to help create distinctive and motivating copy. And, finally, a graphic artist steps in to put it all together. The challenge is to come up with five unique, hard-selling layouts.

When everything is ready the samples are presented to the buyer in a format that makes decision-making painless and easy.

In a worst-case situation, the process at least gives the sale representative some opportunity to learn what the client likes and dislikes in ad.

The attached examples were actually created for a potential advertiser interested in our upscale OKOBOJI Magazine. Five ideas were presented, and the client selected the largest one in the set for publication.

True, “Project Five” can require a greater amount of work before the sale, but in today’s increasingly difficult market the results can make the effort worthwhile.

Peter W. Wagner is founder and publisher of the award winning N’West Iowa REVIEW and 13 additional publications. Wagner can be contacted by emailing  or calling his cell at 712-348-3550.