Finding Dollars Beyond the Obituaries


By Peter Wagner

Newspapers can generate additional exceptional advertising revenue with a special section state and funeral planning guide. When we first started considering such a section we wrongly gave it the working title “Death and Dying”.

While that title clearly defined the purpose and direction of the project, we quickly realized the name lacked the sense of care and concern needed to sell the necessary advertising support to local funeral homes, grief counseling facilities, financial planners, bank trust departments, florists, headstone suppliers and a multitude of others working in that industry. After considerable thought we came up with the title “Looking beyond tomorrow” and that has seemed to be satisfactory to everyone involved.

At The N’West Iowa REVIEW we traditionally publish the “Looking beyond tomorrow” update every twenty-four to thirty-six months. We’ve found it works best published as a half tab or book size product. We distribute it with our Saturday paid circulation newspaper and later deliver copies to the majority of advertisers to share with their clients.

Most of the editorial material is collected through interviews with representatives of the businesses and professional services that regularly advertise in The N’West Iowa REVIEW. We make sure to involve a different interview source each time we publish to keep all our advertisers happy.

A typical issue of “Looking Beyond Tomorrow” will include comments from a priest or pastor addressing end-of-life questions, a simple guide to estate planning, information on coping with grief, suggestions on life insurance distribution, a guide to advanced funeral planning, details on wills and the role of an executor, information on the use of a retirement home, nursing facility or hospice, organ donation and the importance of the role of the local church and minister.

Some of the articles in our most recent edition included:  possible options to transfer financial assets, the ways parents can help children cope, what factors to weigh when choosing life insurance, the value in preplanning a funeral, how the funeral service can ease a loss and the patient and family comfort provided by a hospice.

Many of the articles are accompanied by sidebars filled with lists of easy-to-use information. It is important to remember the book will be distributed to families in need for many months after it is published.

The advertising opportunities should be obvious. Along with the local funeral homes, the community hospitals, retirement and nursing homes are obvious.

But the list can be much longer than that: hospices, home medical supply firms, investment counselors, trust departments of local banks, pharmacies and even some forward thinking churches are good prospects. So are counseling services, florists, cemetery associations, catering firms and limo services.

At The N’West Iowa REVIEW we sell only process color modular advertising in our “Living beyond tomorrow” book. Once we determine the price for a page ad we compute 60% of that amount for a half page ad and 35% for a quarter page.

Be sure to always remind your advertisers that the book is an investment in more than just one week’s readership. Many local experts will be handing it out to individuals in need for many months to come.

Peter W. Wagner is publisher of the award winning N’West Iowa REVIEW and 12 additional publications. He is often called “The Idea Man” and is a regular presenter at State Press Association and Publishing Group conventions and seminars. You can contact him regarding his programs “100 Ideas for Fun and Profit” or “Selling Print Advertising the Wagner Way” by emailing or calling his cell 712-348-3550 anytime.