The major classified dollars are beyond just word ads

January 13, 2016

By Peter W. Wagner
Iowa Information Inc.

I admit it—we don’t publish many private or business want ads in our N’West Iowa REVIEW and our other newspapers. Individual word want ads have hardly ever existed in our rural market, and what we once had have mostly moved to the Internet the last few years.

But we do print a large classified section featuring multiple pages of help-wanted and business-opportunity display advertising. The regional and nationwide shortage of qualified employees in all areas of business and agriculture has provided us a unique opportunity for expanded classified display revenue growth.

It all began in The N’West Iowa REVIEW a few years ago when I noticed a growing number of help-wanted ads in surrounding community newspapers. Because The REVIEW is a four-county regional publication, I thought we might—with some serious attention—be able to move many of those ads into our Saturday publication.

Getting started wasn’t easy. I turned to Denise Rust, one of our circulation telemarketers, to lead the effort. But Denise wasn’t sure the investment of her time would see the financial results she was enjoying in her current circulation sales position. She procrastinated!

Three weeks in a row I stopped by Denise’s desk reminding her of the growth opportunity we were missing. Eventually she grew tired of my pestering and attempted a few telephone calls to prove me wrong. But the response from the businesses she called, all anxious to find their needed employees, was amazing. Soon potential clients, noting growing numbers of employment opportunity ads in our paper, were calling her.

It became obvious we needed a full time out-call person dedicated to selling classified display and gave the position to Denise. Over the years, she has increased our classified section to 10 to 12 pages each week. Many of the employment ads are rolled over to our Golden Shopper, local Sheldon Mail-Sun or The Sioux Center NEWS and website. Each insertion, although discount by frequency pricing, adds more dollars to the company’s bottom line.

Every week, Denise checks the various exchange papers to search out new advertisers not on her active call list. The depth of this search is unlimited because many employers will reach far beyond their market area, looking for the exact employee they need. All new prospects receive an introductory phone call, and some calls are followed up with a media package and sample paper.

Most will receive up to seven additional follow-up calls in an effort to sell our advertising service.

Denise is the company’s largest producer today, outperforming all other inside and outside salespersons.  

Not all advertisers run display ads every week. But with the continuing shortage of production, processing, agricultural and seasonal workers, most businesses repeat the advertising process at least four or five times a year.

The greatly increased volume of help-wanted ads has also increased the amount of farm equipment, farm services and automotive display ads in our classified section.

There is always more than one way to skin a cat. The Internet may have skipped off with most of the limited dollar word ads, but our aggressive help-wanted sales program, now often featuring half-page, process color ads, provides important, exceptional dollars to our bottom line. © Peter Wagner 2016


Peter W. Wagner is founder and publisher of the award winning N’West Iowa REVIEW and 13 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.” Seven Steps to Selling Success” or “Watch Your p’s and q’s” by e-mailing or calling his cell 712-348-3550 anytime.


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