Finding dollars beyond the obituaries

February 26, 2015

By Peter W. Wagner
President | Iowa Information Inc., Sheldon, IA

Newspapers can generate exceptional additional advertising revenue with an annual estate and funeral-planning guide.

When we first started considering such a section, we wrongly gave it the working title, “Death and Dying.”

Although that title clearly defined the purpose and direction of the project, we quickly realized the name lacked the sense of care and concern needed to sell the necessary advertising support to local funeral homes, grief counseling facilities, financial planners, bank trust departments, florists, headstone suppliers and a multitude of others working in that industry. After considerable thought, we came up with the title, “Looking Beyond Tomorrow” and that has seemed to be satisfactory to everyone involved.

At The N’West Iowa REVIEW, we traditionally publish the “Looking Beyond Tomorrow” update every 24 to 36 months. We’ve found it works best published as a half tab or book size product. We distribute it with our Saturday paid circulation newspaper and later deliver copies to the majority of advertisers to share with their clients.

Most of the editorial material is collected through interviews with representatives of the businesses and professional services that regularly advertise in the publication. We make sure to involve a different source each time we publish to keep all our advertisers happy.

A typical issue at The REVIEW will include comments from a priest or pastor addressing end-of-life questions, a simple guide to estate planning, information on coping with grief, suggestions on life insurance distribution, a guide to advanced funeral planning, details on wills and the role of an executor, information on the use of a retirement home, nursing facility or hospice, organ donation and the importance of the role of the local church and minister.

Some of the articles in our most recent edition included: possible options to transfer financial assets, the ways parents can help children cope, what factors to weigh when choosing life insurance, the value in preplanning a funeral, how the funeral service can ease a loss, and the patient and family comfort provided by a hospice.

Many of the articles are accompanied by sidebars filled with lists of easy-to-absorb and use information. It is important to remember the book will be distributed to families in need for many months after it is published.

The advertising opportunities should be obvious. Along with the local funeral homes, the community hospitals, retirement and nursing homes are typical customers.

But the list can be much longer than that: hospices, home medical supply firms, investment counselors, trust departments of local banks, pharmacies and even some forward-thinking churches are good prospects.

So are counseling services, florists, cemetery associations, catering firms and limo services.

At The N’West Iowa REVIEW, we sell only process color modular advertising in our “Living Beyond Tomorrow” book. Once we determine the price for a page ad, we compute 60 percent of that amount for a half page ad and 35 percent for a quarter page.

Be sure to always remind your advertisers that the book is an investment in more than just one week’s readership. Many local experts will be handing it out to individuals in need for many months to come. © Peter Wagner 2015


Peter W. Wagner is publisher of the award winning N’West Iowa REVIEW and 12 additional publications. He is often called “The Idea Man” and is a regular presenter at state press association and publishing group conventions and seminars. You can contact him regarding his programs, “100 Ideas for Fun and Profit” or “Selling Print Advertising the Wagner Way” by e-mailing or calling 712-348-3550 anytime.

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