New revenue ideas for the printed paper: 3 for the money

September 8, 2016

By Peter W. Wagner | Creative house Print Media Associates

Promotion N0. 1: Salute to Blue

With the loss of many traditional local retail businesses, newspaper ad sales have shifted strongly to community support pages or promotions.

Local professionals—from lawyers, dentists and accounting firms to privately owned garbage collection companies that might otherwise never advertise—would often buy community booster pages. These full-page or sometimes smaller ads promote and support everything from summer rec programs to Catholic Education Week.

One recent and new support page success in my N’West Iowa REVIEW came from a suggestion made at our weekly sales meeting. We’d just finished discussing that morning’s report of yet another shooting attack on a metro city police force. Without a moment’s hesitation, an inside sales specialist said, “We need to print a full-color page honoring our area law enforcement organizations.”

The idea received the immediate endorsement of our entire sales team, the creative department and management. Plans were quickly completed to publish the project that weekend. Working with the title Salute to Blue, we hoped to sell enough sponsorships to publish at least one, perhaps two pages.

When it was closed, the project did much better than that. We hadn’t taken into consideration the strong emotional connection our advertising base had regarding the nationwide anti-police attacks. In just three days, our inside sales team sold four full-color support pages that each produced one and a half times what a normal full color page would bill.

Sales hints: Remember, you’re not selling ‘sig’ or signature ads. You’re offering local businesses and professionals the opportunity to be part of “a community support program.” Also, your community support pages will sell easier and be more effective when you use the advertiser’s logo rather than just set the sponsor’s name in type.


Promotion N0. 2: Business

Salute to Women

This sales idea can be used to introduce a regular schedule of business sections or simply be published as a one-time special section saluting women in business in your community.

At the N’West Iowa REVIEW, we include a special business section in our paper six times a year. The advertiser base includes area banks, financial advisors, insurance firms, office supply companies, trucking companies, caterers and regional economic development groups, to name a few.

Our most successful issue is our annual Twenty Under Forty section saluting up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Recently, however, we experienced fantastic sales numbers with our new Salute to Women in Business issue.

The editorial material focused on six N’West Iowa business women and the contributions they are making in business and in service to the community. Reader satisfaction in the selection was apparent in the many positive comments posted on our Facebook page. Advertiser support was exceptional.

All of the ads in the section were sold modular in eighth-, quarter-, half- and full-page sizes. Black and white ads were offered, but most of the ads were purchased in process color. All of the editorial material was printed in process color.


Promotion No. 3: A Day in the Life Summer Series

Every summer, The N’West Iowa REVIEW publishes a multi-week series of special broadsheet sections committed to sharing the heart and soul of the communities in our coverage area. The project has had various themes, some more successful than others, during the past 20 years.

This year, we revised our early 1980s Day in the Life photo section into the summer series. The ’80s project was printed completely in black and white. It was huge for that point in our history, totaling 40 pages in three sections covering the morning, afternoon and evening hours.

This year, our updated weekly Day in the Life series featured a different nearby community each Saturday. All of the editorial material consisted of dozens of photos depicting an average day from sunrise to sunset, and all of the advertising was printed in full color. Each section, covering a town of 400 to 5,000 population, ran from six to 10 pages.

Sixteen communities were featured in the series, which ran from late April to mid-September.

Was it successful? Judge for yourself. Here’s an unsolicited e-mail from one of our subscribers: “I just wanted you to know, I think the Day in the Life in the ACCENT sections is very good.

“Once again, your paper sets the standard on journalism. Keep up the great work.”

Keep on believing! Printed newspapers are alive and well in the hands of publishers and editors who produce quality for a market that has reason to need their product. © 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 newspaper industry’s “Idea Man” and is a regular presenter at state press association and Publishing Group conventions and seminars. You can contact him for samples pages of these promotions or regarding his “100 Ideas for Fun and Profit” by e-mailing or calling 712-348-3550 anytime.


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