By Pete Van Baalen
The Herald Bulletin (Anderson)
My first sales job at a daily newspaper, I had a total of three products to sell. We had the daily newspaper, a weekly TMC and a monthly homes magazine, and that was more than many publishers at the time. Today, the load of products we offer can be overwhelming and it creates a crunch on time for us and our sales staff.
Our accounts also have a similar crunch of time, as they try to juggle an ever changing business landscape. With all the time pressures in business today, we all still have the opportunity to devote just five minutes of time to define advertising and marketing goals. I would suggest we have an obligation to do so with our accounts, who need our expertise more now than ever.
Small businesses often times need help with even the most basic things as determining an advertising budget. Too many business owners do ‘pocket-book budgeting’, which is simply seeing if there is any extra money in the account right now. If there is a little extra, then they will make that their budget. Successful business operators are more disciplined when it comes to setting aside an advertising budget.
Successful marketing professionals work with their accounts to help create those disciplines. This is not something that needs to take a large investment of time by the account or the sales rep. There are several great resources available through the internet as well as through the Newspaper Association of America. The NAA planbook (membership required) offers suggestions for advertising budgets based on industry and by a store’s square footage.
One of my favorites is the one minute advertising budget test. Four quick questions that a sales rep can ask an account, that do not require a lot of research by the rep or the account and can yield a starting point for an advertising budget.
The industry averages for advertising budgets are just that, averages from across the country. They do not take into account things like low traffic or isolated locations or amount of competition in the marketplace. The one minute budget test does factor those things in, and gives the sales rep a starting point for a discussion with a business owner or decision maker.
Also important factor of budget is when to spend it. Timing is everything in life, and that includes when to advertise. There is a great website that can tell you when people are buying select products and services: http://lifehacker.com/5973864/the-best-time-to-buy-during-the-year/.
For instance, according to the website the best time to buy a mattress is May. Knowing that consumer information, a bedding store should start preparing and promoting before the surge in May.
Creating a budget and helping the business to the best time and best vehicle for their message will elevate the sales rep. Instead of being the sales rep for the local newspaper, you can become the marketing department for that local department.