The Modern Day Print Advertising rep

Oh how the life of a print advertising media rep has changed. For the first 20 years of my advertising career life really was pretty simple. I sold one product which for most of that time was flyer distribution inside newspapers. I worked very hard, built up an account list in excess of 1 million dollars annually which is a lot of local flyer distribution. My job consisted of convincing local business owners as well as national agencies, big box stores, grocery chains etc that they should be distributing their flyers in newspapers that I represented and I did that job with much success. This is after all how I initially established myself in the industry. At the time I saw myself as a passionate, hardworking “flyer guy” and if you asked me then I would have told you that what I was doing was very complex and it was to an extent. Most newspapers did have specialists to deal with this part of the business and still do. I decided to move on for a new challenge and start my own company FlyerMail which provided me the opportunity to diversify myself by adding commercial print and graphic design to my areas of specialty. Again this seemed to be a huge challenge at the time but I was about to discover that my life as a print media advertising sales professional was about to drastically change with the sale of FlyerMail to a multimedia giant in Torstar.

After I sold to Torstar I came back thinking that I would continue to drive FlyerMail for the new company which I did. I knew there would be some minor changes such as the format, design, new printer etc but overall I would be pushing one product. Sure there was the co-branding with an online flyer site in but for the most part my life would be the same. What had changed since my last stint in the industry was the business was no longer just about newspapers. In fact newspapers were no more than one of the many core products that I was expected to push. I was expected to push our many digital platforms which included content marketing, daily deal sites, flyer sites, impressions, IP targeting, take overs, audience extension, retargeting and this barely scratches the surface. There were magazines, newspapers, direct mail products and a heck of a lot more. What happened to the days when all we had to worry about was asking “do you want to buy an ad in next week’s paper?”  Well it was clear those days were gone. The message being sent was simple if our industry was going to survive we were going to be hitting the streets with a multimedia approach with a heavy focus on digital. So that’s just what I did. We were now packaging digital with FlyerMail which was a natural for me as we had a Flyer site ( and to be honest adding a measly $120 for the online portion on a $3000 direct mail campaign was easy. But I had so much to learn in a short period of time. I knew I needed to embrace the digital world so I quickly learned all about our content marketing initiatives (In Your Neighborhood) and I sold this is waves. I was shocked at how easy this was and how badly my clients craved this once I hit the street. And for $300 per month which included business profiles, monthly content, video production, online advertising, social media there was a lot of value for the price.  And guess what? About 80 per cent of these customers bought newspaper advertising as part of their annual contract. So we were using our strong digital platform to sell newspaper display advertising. What a far cry from the old days when we sold all print customers a $12 upsell on their ad to put the ad online.

My life as a print advertising rep has definitely evolved as now I call myself a true multimedia rep. It’s about listening to the customer and selling them what they need which for me is more and more becoming a digital platform whether on its own or part of a print buy. For print media reps to not only survive but grow they need to embrace this approach or very shortly they simply won’t exist. The days of “a half or a full page this week?” are gone. Listen to your customer and put them in the advertising product that will best suit their business even if that isn’t a full page in the local newspaper.

Follow me on twitter @geoffjosey

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Does Your Business Need A Content Marketing Strategy?

For those of you who are not yet familiar with content marketing you will be very soon. Content marketing is one of the fastest growing trends in advertising. Here is a definition that I took from the Content Marketing Institute “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

For years  businesses of all sizes have banked on traditional call to action advertising campaigns to get business through the door such as newspapers, direct mail, radio, TV the list goes on and on. The demand for traditional advertising continues to change as advertisers look for alternatives to grow their business. There still is a place for traditional media and it can be very effective if done properly but today’s consumer is a more intelligent buyer in that they do more research on that little thing we call the internet before they buy. This shouldn’t be completely foreign to traditional advertisers as many businesses have been using advertorials through print with great effectiveness for many years. Just look at content marketing as an extension to that.

When done well the content appears as a news article about a specific industry topic with a catchy headline. The technical term for this if you want to impress your media rep is native advertising. It should not be obvious in any way that this is an advertisement. The goal is to provide consumers with relevant information so that they can make a more informed buying decision. This should be a consistent marketing strategy such as Metroland’s In Your Neighborhood platform where we produce and post monthly content geared to your business.

Customers attained from content marketing are far more likely to be loyal repeat customers as they are educated on what it is that sets you apart. When combined with a traditional advertising strategy such as direct mail or a print campaign it can be very effective. Relevant content is also a great tool to communicate with your current customers through social media and email marketing to remind them why they do business with you versus the competition. Here is an example how it can work.

This is an opportunity to separate your business from the competition especially those who are still exclusive to traditional advertising. A good example is a direct mail package with a new restaurant inside let’s say a pizza guy with 3 or 4 competitors in the package. Chances are all 4 will have similar specials so if you are the new guy on the block why would they try your product when they already know they love “Tony’s Pizza” Most people are going to stick with what they know unless you are giving away free pizza’s which doesn’t make any sense from a business perspective. But if the “new guy” has a content marketing strategy explaining why using healthy ingredients is important, using better ingredients, the importance of using fresh ingredients, how using the best cheese makes a better quality pizza.….the likelihood of picking up the phone and responding to the ad is that much greater. Personally I would be more likely to try the new guy as there is already a buzz in the community. This also holds true for established businesses who want to find new customers.

Chances are you are still using traditional media to promote your business which may or may not have the impact it once did. Regardless of that success you need a content marketing strategy to separate yourself from the pack and take your business to the next level. Content creates loyalty, attracts a more educated customer, enhances your SEO as search engines reward quality regular content and in the end when combined with your traditional marketing increases your ROI. With solid content your customers will look forward to your advertising and you will earn their business with a soft “not in your face” approach. This is the present and future of multimedia advertising and it should be part of your marketing platform.

Follow me on twitter @geoffjosey

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Tis the Season If you work in advertising

So the kiddies are back to school and Halloween which is the second biggest holiday as far as retail sales are concerned is just around the corner but for an advertising rep regardless of what media you work for the Holiday season starts now. Selling a monthly direct mail product like I do I am always a month ahead so for me it is already October. For most reps in my industry they just sell for today. What I mean by this is picking up ads for next week’s paper, selling 50 more radio spots, locking their client down for another 20,000 impressions for this month’s renewal on their online campaign you get the idea. The Christmas holiday season requires proper planning if you are going to find success so you need to be thinking at least 3 months ahead. What most media reps will do is hit the street in November or even December and start selling their holiday promos such as special sections, holiday greetings, Boxing Day promos the list goes on and on. This is after all the busiest time of the year for the retail industry so you want to grab every penny you can especially since we all know what happens in the first quarter which begins in January. In order to get your fair share before the competition does you need to hit the ground running in the first part of September which is right now. The timing is perfect, the dreadful July and August in terms of sales has come to an end business is picking up and virtually all retailers and business owners know the cash flow is going to increase significantly. This is the perfect time to go out and get it. Top advertising managers who have known this for years start this process in the summer (July) when things are slow and brainstorm product ideas, prospect lists, deadlines, rate cards etc. So once September hits they have their plan in place all they need to do is execute. While their reps are on the streets selling their holiday advertising most other managers are just starting to think about Christmas with the plan of having their attack ready for the streets in November. Well I am sorry to say the big advertising dollars are already spoken for and all you are going to get are the scraps such as holiday greetings.

As an advertising rep you want to get a significant chunk of holiday budgets not the leftovers. How many times in November do you hear “this is a great idea but my Christmas advertising dollars are already spent”? Get out on the streets this week and start presenting your holiday promotions to your top customers with the largest budgets so you can beat the competition to the punch. And If you are a business owner and haven’t started thinking about your holiday advertising  you are about to as I will be knocking on your door this week.



Have local business interests? Get involved in the community

Being less than a week away from my favorite local event the Limestone City Blues Festival I felt it was the right time to write about the importance of getting involved or more involved in the community you live and work in. Whether you are a media rep, a local business owner, a manager or just work in the community I can’t stress how important it is to get out there and get involved. In my case dealing with advertisers which most businesses are there isn’t a better way to establish and cultivate relationships than attending a backstage party at an event like the Blues Festival. Of course opportunities like this come along for me as a former business owner. Owning FlyerMail I had a vested interest in sponsoring many other high profile local community events, such as FebFest, Movies in The Square and April Fools Comedy Festival to name a few. My goal was to raise the level of my brand in the community as well as create more contacts so I could put more advertising in my packages which in turn made my product more appealing to consumers with more variety. For me the other advantage was and still is distributing the official handbill for the event inside the packages and even branding the covers such as the photo illustrated above. This of course is one way to do it if you happen to be a business owner or a senior manager but there are many other ways. I got my start with the Blues Festival involvement from my good buddy and mentor Jeff Dillon when I was a young newspaper rep who didn’t give me a choice; he said “Digger we are selling bracelets at Blues Fest this weekend”. (Digger is a sales nickname I can’t seem to shake with a few in the industry who have worked with me since my early 20’s) From that point on I realized the importance of doing this type of charity work in my community. The event organizers appreciate it, you meet many people including business owners and decision makers as a result and you create a profile in the community. From that point on I volunteered for Santa Claus Parades, various festivals, feel good events like pitch in Kingston you get the idea. Of course there are other ways to do this I have also sat on committees with the local University Hospital foundation, been on boards such as the local chamber, been a chair for events such as Pitch In Kingston and much more.  In a nutshell  as busy as I am I always make time to get involved when I have the opportunity to make a difference in my community.

If you want to grow your business portfolio in your community I suggest you get involved. Having a strong community presence makes it much easier to climb the corporate ladder, raise brand awareness and increase sales if you are into that like I am. Oh yeah and you will always feel good about the time you spend so pick the right cause to support with the right people and don’t forget to have fun.