What Advertisers Want from Newspapers

Article excerpt

Media buyers from different industries address California newspaper ad execs; offer spending outlook for 1992

Using blunt language, leading advertisers told an assemblage of newspaper advertising executives that waving circulation figures before them is not enough to command their business in the hard-pressed '90s.

They said that they expect newspaper ad reps to come up with creative ideas to help move their products or services in a tight economy.

The occasion was the January monthly meeting of the California Newspaper Advertising Executives Association (CNAEA), which invited media buyers from different industries to deliver a 1992 business forecast.

Along with their predictions, the guest panelists did a switch on the old question, "What have you done for me lately?" Their new query was, "What will you do for me tomorrow and the day after that?"

"It's imperative that newspapers ask the client what we need, not what you want to sell us," said Jim Carter, advertising director of the Tuttle-Click Automotive Group, a megasized car dealership in California and Arizona.

Carter, whose company sells nine domestic and foreign models, advised newspapers to re-establish themselves as a priority buy for automotive customers.

"History is on your side," he continued. "We need the papers, but give us a reason to buy. What will your paper do for us? Circulation is only one part of the sale.

"Our industry is in the process of reinventing itself and, if you can help us sell cars, we'll do business with you."

Carter and fellow panelists balked at ad rate increases but he complimented newspapers for offering rate structures and discounts that have saved his firm money.

Thomas L. Motter, vice president/marketing for Century 21 of Pacific Inc., said that the real estate industry wants newspapers to focus on its needs and develop new business methods to meet those needs.

"Money is what matters to us," he declared. "An agent, broker or real estate company has only so much of it. So give us dollar volume rates with flexibility on where and how and when we spend the money, instead of devising formulas for numbers of pages tied to other discounts or programs."

Motter said that classified advertising is "becoming more of a dinosaur to our industry each year" and at best is a "necessary evil."

He warned that "necessary evils are things we are always looking for ways to make no longer necessary."

His point, the speaker said, was that newspapers would be smart to employ creative energy to make advertising more productive.

An example, Motter said, are home buyers' fairs.

"If you expect our participation and support, take the time to discuss our needs, our customer profiles, and how to get them to the event," he stated.

Motter complained that current newspaper formats for such fairs do not attract a good customer profile for the industry, do not involve a system for obtaining and disseminating buyer leads, and do not track results to determine the success or failure of the event.

Motter also urged the ad executives to think carefully about real estate sales associates and the marketing dollars they command.

Newspaper reps, he pointed out, should provide these salespeople with integrated marketing products that include ads, inserts and their distribution, and direct mail.

"You might broaden your scope by looking at your business as a marketing services company rather than a classified advertising vehicle," Motter said. "You have everything you need. You are a printer, have design departments, market research and demographics capacity -- and you know how to target specific audiences."

The grocery business also can use a little help from newspapers, said Jack Ackroyd, advertising director for Hughes Markets, a large supermarket chain.

"Keep us informed about future editorial content," he urged. …