Home' Local Media Today : January 2007 Contents JANUARY 2007
SNA Chairman of The Board Jim
Mannarino is, in his day job, Group
President & Publisher of The Gazette in
Gaithersburg. MD. His company publishes
numerous high quality publications in the
Southern Maryland & Washington, D.C.
area with total weekly circulatioin of
almost 600,000. The Gazette is part of
Community Newspaper Group of Post-
Newsweek Media Inc.
Jim is a big shot in a big company. But, as
evidenced by this column, he’s a newspa-
perman man at heart - not a suit - and he
discovered some things in his recent budg-
eting quest that he felt were worth shar-
ing. I hope you do too.
By Jim Mannarino
Every year in the fall, during my compa-
ny’s budget process, we work to plan our
budget out of strategic analysis of our rev-
enues and expenses, of trends and what is
causing those trends, and of where we see
opportunities to grow our business and
better serve our advertising customers and
The goal of this analysis, and of our meet-
ings around them, is to build a budget
based on sound thinking so that we go
into the New Year with plans already in
place to help our company reach its goals.
This year, one aspect that emerged in
those meetings was the importance of
growing local retail advertising. Every
successful community and suburban news-
paper is increasingly dependent on a broad
base of local retail merchants. These are
decision-makers whose cumulative ad
count spreads the risk of advertising rev-
enue, provides opportunity for control-
lable growth, and creates an inherent
source of readership and subscription
As a result of that focus, I spent a great
deal of time calling ad directors around
the country. I knew some of them, and
some came highly recommended as “the
best in the country”. It was an amazing
experience to hear and learn from these
talented women and men and I want to
thank all of them who took time to help
The questions I posed to them were sim-
ple and centered on finding what the best
practices were for growing local retail rev-
enue. The answers were in some ways
the fundamentals of what we all know.
But in another way, it struck me that there
was such collective wisdom in what they
all said, that it would be valuable for the
entire membership of SNA to share in it.
So I decided to make this column a brief
summary of what I heard and learned.
My hope is, as we go into the New Year,
that your company can use this as a check
list of the metrics of successful growth,
and implement or refresh these best prac-
tices to grow your business.
The first step to growing revenues is to set
goals for growth. The advertising direc-
tor begins by establishing a goal for
growth over a period of time, usually a
year, and then broken into months.
The second step is for the director to
measure averages for each territory and
sales representative, to determine how
many prospects must be called in order to
open new accounts. Sales are based on a
law of averages, much like baseball or any
other effort. A widely circulated statistic
states that eighty percent of prospects do
not consider buying until after the fifth
sales call. And it takes approximately 10
prospecting calls to make one sale.
The third step is to identify the best
prospects, which is usually determined
through looking first at competition (com-
petitive newspapers, direct mail, yellow
pages, radio, television, the internet, etc).
Businesses that already advertise are the
most likely prospects.
The fourth step is for the sales director
and managers to identify segments that are
strong, and segments that can be
The fifth step is to come to agreement on
how much time sales representatives
should be spending in the field actually
prospecting. Many of the directors told
me they set a monthly goal of how many
prospects must be called on and of how
many new accounts must be opened in a
month. The numbers ranged, but I heard
pretty commonly 2 new accounts opened
per rep per month.
Once prospecting is a normal part of the
business practice, the process of selling is
just as important. Sales representatives
should be trained in the basics of advertis-
ing sales, including using testimonials,
doing “spec” ads, writing effective head-
lines and copy and the basics of making
an ad plan and closing a sale.
I heard many times in my interviews how
important it is to have sales representa-
tives ensure that ads are designed to get
results for the advertiser. Some basics for
your sales reps to remember when work-
ing on an ad layout include:
Benefit headline. The headline must
draw the reader’s attention quickly.
Studies show people spend 10 seconds on
a page on average, and only 2 seconds on
an ad. So you must catch their attention.
People in the market for a product or serv-
ice have that product or service on their
mind, so be sure the ad gives them a bene-
fit that tells them the ad will solve their
problem. Example, don’t have a headline
that says “Smith Brothers”. Instead, say
“Furniture Sale—Lowest Prices
Anywhere”. Use the name of the product
or service in the headline to catch atten-
tion quickly, coupled with a benefit (low
price, great service, etc.).
Great body copy. Body copy is like news
and if it and the copy give news and
promise a benefit, readers are more
likely to be read.
Dominant graphic, which should be
placed above or next to the head-
White space. Design a clean easy
to read ad. Avoid reverses. Use
color if it is available.
Finally, the process of managing the
sales system is crucial. Managers
must be dedicated to ongoing train-
ing for sales representatives, to
going on sales calls regularly with the
sales representatives, to holding the sales
representatives accountable for measura-
ble metrics (sales call reports, prospect
This process, if followed carefully, will
ensure at a minimum that budget downs
due to churn and changes in the market
place are offset by new business, and ide-
ally, that advertising revenues grow
beyond budget year after year.
It is my hope that this “collective wis-
dom” will be a help to your company in
this New Year. And I wish each of you a
healthy, happy and prosperous new year,
full of account and revenue growth!
Collective Wisdom Gathered & Shared:
A Primer In Growing Local Ad Revenue
CLASSIFIED CALLING: Jim Mannarino, left, was in the thick of it at the SNA
Classified Ad Managers’ conference recently. He was one of several publishers who
recognized the value of participating in advertising oriented conferences.
WORK HARD PLAY HARD: In Dallas at the SNA
Publishers & Ad Directors conference Mannarino, far
right/blue shirt, took time to learn some line dancing.
THE MAN GETS AROUND:Ideas abound at
SNA conferences. Mannarino describes one at
the ‘06 Publishers’ Conference in Palm Springs.
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