local media insider

Report from the 2011 SNA/Blinder Revenue Summit

Alisa Cromer

There were a number of great revenue ideas at the 2011  SNA/Blinder Revenue Summit which we will be posting on this site in the next few weeks. Overall, here are some trends we saw at the conference:

1. Large scale  cultural transformation in local media  is underway - and working - in a number of organizations
Several executives  we've already written about here - like Deseret Media and Source Media - were under the microscope at the conference. But the good news is that there are more companies  showing some tranformational backbone in the space: Gatehouse's President and COO, Kirk Davis, was especially inspiring in how he is driving recruitment into the company. The Oklahoman also has entered the group of "intentional" leadership, and a newspaper in Kingsport, Louisiana, walked us through its separate digital division that engages in the agency space. The audience was equally engaged from Dow Jones, to Black Press.

SNA's Nancy Lane pointed out that in spite of Deseret's CEO's message to separate or perish, the "legacy group" (it's no longer politically correct to say "legacy" at Deseret) is fully integrated, in addition to the digital only division, to say nothing of the brilliant and  JOA-run real estate brokerage promoted on their site. 

2. Real transformation addresses products, training, recruitment, pricing and compensation - then accountability

The days of living with inhouse naysayers is coming to an end at a number of companies. But the chicken/egg situation also means that key executive serious about transformation are aggressively addressing these other issues - product, compensation, training and organization - first.  As Kirk Davis of Gatehouse Media put it, you can ask sales people to "take the hill" without a game plan and ammunition. But it's not fair. And it won't get the traction you need.

We heard how more than one company (who will be featured in the next few weeks) plans to amp up their recruitment, training and general play as a precursor to elevating "up or out" expectations. 

3. Group Deals are making a lot of money
If you are reading this site, chances are you've already incorporated Group Deal best practices. In the audience were a smattering  of companies who did not succeed with a daily deal, and a few more who are making $40,000 a month in revenues from deals. Some great, not-to-be overlooked categories: Men's shirts, amusement parks, auto detailing. 

4. Leveraging assets is key

One of the more disturbing take-aways is how much advertisers are influenced by the constant bad press about traditional media, especially print. In reality most overall audiences at print companies are growing, and legacy assets are being leveraged to build out all kind of product launches from from group deals to contests and coupon sites. Looking at how products combine is a essential to competing against pureplays in the market. Deals and coupons combined with additional in-paper and online exposure did especially well.

5. Goals of 20% in digital revenues by 2012, and 50% by 2015 are being adopted by several of the most serious media companies.

There is little more to say about this beyond the fact that more companies are focusing on total revenues in their DMA. More on this later: There is money on the table, but not by up-selling the same old advertisers.  New clients will often buy additional marketing to support their own digital initiatives, but this should not be a requirement. Rather, large numbers of smaller sales from self-serve and telemarketing, and from transactions and services are making in-roads into non-advertisers.

6. Telemarketing is back
Deseret Media is doing huge numbers in it telemarketing department. So is Groupon and Living Social. These are not the in-bound order takers, but well-trained outbound marketers, working off-script. If you are interested in out-sourcing, Cheryl Phillips, president of Canadian telemarketing organization CAPE Sales Development, can be reached at cphillips@capesalesdev.com.

7. Be aware of the changing value proposition

One of the most interesting moments for me was Kirk Davis', description of how he asked publishers at 300 properties to personally ask six questions of ten advertisers and report back. One general answer that stood out was that newspaper prices are too high, compared to all the interesting opportunites. The fundamental value proposition for media is changing and local media needs to address how legacy products fit  in the new equation. 

8. A new take on separate or perish 

There were a number of takes on digital only sales people, managers and divisions that surfaced  among the new ideas launched. But the key take away for us was really a more dynamic, central message: Go after available revenues in the DMA, don't just defend the core. 

"Businesses evolve, business units don't," right?

So how much is your DMA worth? That information is free from Borrell and Associates. A full report on where your advertisers are spending their money is also less than $1000 from the same company (Greg Harmon made a strong case for eliminating the "survey of one" pathology in which executives claim to know what advertisers are doing without research). 

Key numbers in your DMA are total marketing dollars, wherever they are currently spent. An example of looking at a big revenue opportunity outside traditional media is our case for competing with GrouponNow, here. 

Alisa Cromer

The author, Alisa Cromer is publisher of a variety of online media, including LocalMediaInsider and  MediaExecsTech,  developed while on a fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute and which has evolved into a leading marketing company for media technology start-ups. In 2017 she founded Worldstir.com, an online magazine,  to showcases perspectives from around the  world on new topic each month, translated from and to the top five languages in the world.

blinder revenue summit, deseret digital, source media, kirk davis, gatehouse, oklahoman, deals, borrell, telemarketing