Be good at sales; know your product

July 6, 2016

By Ken Blum
Black Ink

Do your newspaper’s ad reps know the product they’re selling?

 “Of course!” you say.

Let’s find out.

The following are questions that every community newspaper advertising representative should be able to answer as quickly as a Baptist minister can recite the Lord’s Prayer.

(Note: No writing; it’s a verbal quiz. The person asking the questions plays the client; the person answering the question assumes he’s face-to-face with that client.)

1.What’s your name?

2. What’s your newspaper’s name?

3. Where’s your office?

(Anyone who has trouble with the first three may want to consider another line of work.)

4. What area does your paper cover? How many towns?

5. How many people get your newspaper? How do they get it—by mail, carrier?

6. How many of those people are subscribers?

7. How many people buy it on the newsstands?

8. Who owns your paper?

9. How long has your paper been around?

10. How long have you been selling newspaper advertising?

11. Is your paper a broadsheet or a tabloid?

12. What day(s) does your paper come out?

13. Are there any other papers in the area your paper covers?

14. What makes your paper so special?

15. Everybody says that newspapers are dying.’ What do you say?

16. How much does it cost to put an ad in your paper?

17. Is there any way to get a break on your rates?

18. Okay, I understand how your rates work, but can’t you give me a special deal off your rate card?

19. I notice a lot of color ads in your paper. Can I run an ad in color? How much more would it cost?

20. Can someone come take a picture to use in my ad? How much does that cost?

21. How much does it cost to get the ad designed?

22. Can I see the ad before it is put in the paper?

23. Can I run a different ad every week?

24. Does your paper have a website?

25. Can I put my ad on your website?

26. How much does an ad on your website cost?

27. Which will work best—the printed paper or the website?

28. Should I put a coupon in my ad? How many customers should I get from a coupon?

29. Can I put a flier in your paper? Can you design and print it?

30. What if I don’t get any results?

31. Can you bill me for my ads? If so, how soon do I have to pay?

Hopefully, ad reps can answer these questions readily.

However, keep in mind it’s not only the answer that counts, but how the answer comes across. Is there a positive vibe? Did the answers come across as sincere and confident, or hesitant and unclear? What could be added or subtracted or adjusted to make the response even better?

A suggestion: After the quiz, the ad staff can discuss what was effective, and what could be improved.

Take notes and do it again at next week’s meeting.

Then, keep at it until there’s perfection. © Ken Blum 2016


Ken Blum is the publisher of Butterfly Publications, an advising/speaking/publishing business dedicated to improving the profitability and quality of community newspapers. He puts out a monthly free e-mail newsletter titled Black Inklings. It features nuts and bolts ideas to improve revenue and profits at hometown papers. To subscribe to the newsletter or contact Ken, e-mail him at; or phone to 330-682-3416.


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