Ad tracking software can streamline your operation

September 11, 2012

By Lisa Pfeifer
Co-owner | Fake Brains Software
A new ad campaign arrives, alternating ad content for each of the next four issues to announce the grand opening of a new business. Are you readily able to manage this order from scheduling, to production, and billing, while reminding the production team to alternate the ad copy each run?
Observe your current procedures to see how many times you are managing the same order. A newspaper software system will help you to eliminate multiple steps, saving time and reducing errors. Considering how many retail, legal, Internet, circular and classified orders are processed through your office in a given week, you may find that you can increase your bottom line by streamlining your workflows with a newspaper software system,
Gathering data in a single software system will streamline your work. An NSS allows for you to analyze your sales, helping you focus your promotions in the profitable areas. Do you know what percentage of revenue last year, last month, or last issue, is attributed to retail, classified, legal and Web advertising? How about next month? How do these sales compare to prior periods? If you have a NSS, then you know these answers, or can easily retrieve them.
With your current system are you able to determine who advertised during the past 13 weeks, but has dropped out in the coming month? It is important to catch an advertiser from falling off the radar of advertising in your paper, before it has the opportunity to conclude that it may not have needed your paper’ services.
When evaluating your advertisers, are your best advertisers those who you think they are? You may think that certain accounts are your best advertisers. An NSS may reveal that some of these accounts have overly discounted rates that result in much less revenue than you may have thought, while other advertisers are actually bringing you greater revenue than you were aware.
You will get the biggest “bang for your buck” if you allow your sales reps to enter their own orders. I know many companies have reasons why that cannot happen. I’ve heard them all—“I don’t trust them near my accounting;” “They need to be out selling;” or “They don’t know computers.”
When a sales rep is not entering his own orders, he is forced to create his own strategy to track his schedules and calls. As a result, there is no continuity among your staff and you risk losing information. With a contact management system that integrates with your advertising and billing system, you will be able to know who your staff spoke with, including accounts and prospects, to monitor calls and price quotes. By having one centralized system, with the security roles limiting a sales reps access, all information is shared across the entire company, so your staff can support one another.
You can keep your general ledger software, with which you and your tax adviser are accustomed. But, we suggest you do not use that product for billing. Let the NSS perform the accounts receivable work that is unique to newspapers. When the sales and order system are separate from the billing system, inefficiencies arise. For example, a popular GL product publishers use is QuickBooks. Using the QuickBooks AR, you have to repeat many tasks, with the most cumbersome being repeat order entry and rate card lookups. Accurately pricing orders from your rate card for each ad size and combination can be especially challenging if you have more than one product and provide discount incentives. Not to mention the adjustments that may be required to make an order match the price quoted by the sales rep. However, if a sales rep creates the price quote based on established rates in a NSS, you will all be “on the same page” and can control or eliminate off rate card sales. Or, at least now quantify the amount you are “giving away.”
If you already use a NSS to integrate your sales tracking, production management, and billing, now would be a good time to assess the use of your software and re-evaluate your current workflows to see that you are best utilizing the tool you already own.
So when you return from the next National Newspaper Association conference, look to see what you missed while you were out of the office. How long does it take to gather the information showing which advertisers paid their bill, which advertisers and prospects were contacted by your sales team and what new orders were sold while you were out? If you are not able to easily retrieve this information, that may be an indicator that there is an opportunity to improve efficiencies in your office.

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