Classified Readership and Volume: Pump Them Up

January 14, 2015

By Ken Blum
Black Ink 

To paraphrase Hans and Franz of “Saturday Night Live” fame, I aim to pump your classified section up. So put on your sweats, loosen up and read on.

Let’s start with an exercise to pump up both the readership and the volume of ads in the classified section.

It’s a revenue builder, but in an indirect way.

It’s an offer to run free classified ads for items priced at $100 or less (some papers even set the maximum at $500).

So how do free ads pump up classified page revenue? It’s all about momentum. More classifieds equals more readership equals more paid ads.

Of course, there have to be rules. We can’t allow grandma to turn this offer into her personal flea market.

A sample set of rules:


• One ad per week per family.

• Ad will run ONE week only.

• Ad can only have ONE item in it.

• Item must be priced and must be $100 or less.

• Ad limited to 15 words or less.

• Must be an “item.” No thank you ads, garage sale ads, etc.

• Must be a private party ad; no commercial business ads will be allowed.

• Ads will not run in individual classifications—only under the heading (i.e.) “Times Trader Ads.”

• Ads cannot be submitted over the phone. They must be mailed, e-mailed, faxed or brought into the office.

And now for our second exercise, let’s add some muscle to classified display.

Have you noticed that wherever you go these days, there are help wanted signs on the windows or bulletin boards of every type of business from fast food restaurants to auto dealers to hospitals?

The recession is over, folks. Employers are hiring. In most markets, the competition for good help is intense.

And too many businesses looking to hire are forgetting that the best way to recruit help is by advertising in the hometown newspaper.

So, it’s time for newspapers to make hay while the employment sun is shining, and build the base of Help Wanted display and liner ads.

Consider assigning someone on the ad or front office staff to harvest that hay.


A few strategies

• Give the help wanted section of the classified page its own heading (see illustration).

• As an amenity to the advertisers and a readership builder, consider running an advertorial story about local job opportunities on the page. For example, you can highlight an employer and explain the career opportunity he offers.

• Run a display ad (see illustration) pointing out the newspaper is the way to recruit local workers.

• Call every employer in the area. Ask if they have a position(s) open.

• Sell the ad. Sell a program of advertising for larger businesses. Gather the info about the job opportunities and offer to e-mail PDF spec ad examples.

• Don’t forget to sell color. Or, offer it for free on the page(s) as a sale closer.

• Solicit businesses outside your market that can recruit help from your area. Check the help wanted ads in newspapers from outlying areas for sales leads.

So did these tips pump you up? Hope so.

As Hanz and Franz would advise—“don’t be a girlie man”—get moving and add some beef to that classified section! © Ken Blum 2015


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 330-682-3416.

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