Thursday, May 14, 2009

Alternative weekly newspaper takes advertiser from cutting back to running significantly larger than before--and thanking them for it

When this ad wasn't driving enough response to justify the newspaper's rates, the client requested the ad be shrunk down to half the size (sound familiar?). The San Diego Reader knew this was a sales issue as much as a design issue and used our techniques to re-educate the advertiser, eliminate the size, frequency, and content objections, and created a new strategy (below).
Here's a great case study I just received from the ad director of the San Diego Reader, a 170,000 circulation alternative weekly newspaper that has achieved somewhat of a rock-star status in the alternative weekly newspaper industry. We conducted our Response Oriented Selling course there last fall and they're still going strong.

Like many professionals, medical-type advertisers have serious blind spots with their advertising, thinking that including anything more than pictures of themselves and a laundry list of what they do makes them look too pushy, unprofessional (especially in front of their peers), and perhaps even desperate.

As I've mentioned more than once in my posts, the key to driving serious local ad sales in this recession lies in your ad staff's ability to convince the prospective advertiser (or the one about to cut back) that changing their ad and making a major investment is going to pay off big.

Not by simply showing them an effective ad and hoping they give it a try.

Instead, by first eliminating all those incorrect theories that lead them to believe your newspaper is too expensive, that they don't need to run very big or frequently, and that their ad isn't the problem. Since most businesses think advertising is subjective, a creative process, and anyone's opinion is valid, proving their ad is the problem--and the new ad is the solution--can be virtually impossible with out the right skill set.

Here's what San Diego Reader ad director John-Paul Franklin wrote about this ad:

"Using your Response Oriented Selling method I was able to get an advertiser who had a terrible 1/2 page ad (and who was thinking of cutting back to a 1/4 page because of bad results) to bump up to a junior page color ad with a new and great design based on your principles. It has been about eight weeks and the client is getting great results and they are sticking with the bigger/smarter ad."

The toughest part, as always, is eliminating the hard-and-fast theories the advertiser has developed over the years in regards to response (size, frequency, and content). The San Diego Reader then created a new strategy using our techniques, convincing the advertiser to run larger than they were before. Needless to say they're getting a strong, consistent response. The client couldn't be happier. Who ever said selling a larger ad isn't in the best interests of the account?
Again, the key here was to get the advertiser to stop thinking about cutting back or dropping out, and instead actually spend more.

After John-Paul helped the advertiser learn a new approach to direct-response advertising, he set about applying the techniques to their old ad.

In this example, the solution was relatively simple. Apart from getting more people seeing the ad, the ad needed to focus not on the services they offer, but what people really care about when getting laser treatments. Like, "How good are these people?" and "Am I going to look better or worse after the procedure?". You know, minor things like that.

That's the big change John-Paul made for the advertiser, and according to his email, it made all the difference. Instead of shrinking their ad, they increased it's size a lot, and the client's finally making money.

Skin-care centers like these need to work harder to attract customers during this recession because, in this economy, there are fewer people in market for such upscale services, even in San Diego.