Warm them up

How the Omaha World-Herald made nearly half a million in new revenue


The Omaha World-Herald called its drive to bring in new business "Win Back Win Big," and with $480,000 in new advertising in the first quarter of 2017, the strategy was a big success.

The idea came from a "Shark Tank" competition that encouraged all employees to submit their best revenue ideas, said Keely Byars, vice president of advertising. Brandon Franks, local sales manager, won the competition and was the champion of the efforts.

Win Back targeted former customers, while Win Big encouraged everyone to share leads and prospects regardless of which ad rep was assigned to a particular territory. What the two pieces of the campaign had in common was an emphasis on helping the individual rep by "warming up" potential clients rather than relying on cold calls, Byars said.

"That was one of the biggest eye-openers for us," she said. "Prospecting takes time, and the easier we can make it for the sales staff, the better we'll be at it."

Win Back Win Big was one of multiple ideas presented at an SNPA video-conference on ways to bring in new revenue. Sign up for the next P2P video-conference.

Win Back began with managers making a list of former advertisers, mostly in the retail sector, that they thought could be talked into returning. They came up with prospects for each of the 14 geographic territories covered by an account executive.

All of prospects received a letter from Publisher Terry Kroeger emphasizing the World-Herald's commitment to local journalism and asking for the chance to recapture their business. Potential returning clients who agreed to a meeting and presentation became eligible for a drawing for a free marketing plan valued at $5,000. They were also offered discounted bundles or a standard 25 percent off all advertising.

The letters were sent out in batches every two weeks for six weeks, to give account executives the time to follow-up quickly, Byars said. The reps were given talking points that emphasized the expanding number of platforms available for news and advertising.

"Once we started talking through some of the options we could offer them, a lot of them said, 'Gosh, we had no idea that you had so much to offer.' We all do cold calls, and this was just a good way to warm up the call and start talking about digital and how we're so much more than print," Byars said.

Win Back resulted in 72 appointments and 26 sales during that first quarter. The average sale was $4,115 for a total of about $107,000.

Win Big was even more successful, making $373,000. All outside sales reps and their managers were encouraged to think more creatively, be more aggressive and reach out across territories to come up with bigger advertising packages.

Account executives were asked to give their managers five leads that were outside their own territories, and to help each other out in landing those potential clients.

"If you have a relationship because of a group you're part of or a board you sit on with someone who isn't advertising, but it's not in your territory, then help your co-worker get it going and they'll do the same for you," Byars said.

Viable leads and support from managers before reps went into the field improved their chances of making new sales, and as their success grew they collaborated even more, Byars said. 

"I think that's why Win Big was so successful, because they wanted to help each other and it really fostered the culture of working as a team."

Both strong leads and warming up potential advertisers with an introduction, a letter or a contact on staff proved to be the keys in both programs, she said.

"Our big lesson learned is: if we want the sales teams to grow actives and grow revenue, we need to constantly be feeding them leads to call on."

For more information, reach Keely Byars at

Publishers: Register now to take part in the next P2P video conference call.  The May 17 call will be on organizing your salesforce.  The price of admission: submit a successful idea by May 11. LEARN MORE

Jane Nicholes

Jane Nicholes is a veteran journalist based in coastal Alabama and is a regular contributor to SNPA. Reach her at

Suggestions for future stories and comments on this piece are welcomed.

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