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by Paul Evans
Classified Update
(Published by NAA)

As director of new business development at The News-Times, in Danbury, Connecticut, I am always on the lookout for new ideas and initiatives. Whether it is generating more revenue and higher margins or driving readership and circulation, our team is usually willing to try anything, at least for awhile.

That willingness led us to try an idea that was designed for the sole purpose of driving readers to our classified section for something other than help-wanted or tag-sale line ads. The News-Times began running a new column titled "The Classified GuysTM" that does just that. Our readers responded positively, and the column is gaining in popularity with each Sunday run.

It was last June when two brothers first approached the paper about their new syndicated column. It was designed specifically to offer tips on the effective use of the newspaper classified section and included advice on private-party and tag-sale negotiations and a pointer or two on life in general-and all with a slice of humor. The column debuted in The News-Times on August 20th and is now published weekly in the Sunday edition of our classified section.

The feedback from readers has been simply amazing. Just like Ann Landers and the comics, the column has quickly become an anchor position of "added value" to our classified advertisers. It also generated a potential "ride-along" premium ad position.

As former high-tech engineers, Duane and Todd Holze (a.k.a. "Cash and Carry") gave up their corporate careers to become successful authors, columnists and public speakers. They co-authored the book titled "50% Off! How to Find Great Deals," and each week, they offer a free copy of it as well as a $50 prize for reader submissions that are published in their column. They also offer the book, which includes a CD-ROM, to us at drastic discounts to use as a circulation premium or to generate direct revenue from sales at single-copy outlets.

Each week, the Cash and Carry brothers provide their column via download from the member's section of their Web site at www.classifiedguys.com. They supply it as a finished PDF file, and we add it to our newspaper very easily. It doesn't require layout work or editing. Included with the column package are camera-ready ads for run-off-press promotion and teasers, high-resolution files for promotional billboards, and artwork for rack cards.

This "Click and Clack" type team does it all, from radio promos to talk shows, book signings and other appearances. Working with our newspaper and local retailer, The Classified GuysTM developed a promotional giveaway program to promote our newspaper, the column and the retailer. As part of the event, the duo will give away a big-screen television for the best submission to their column.

The guys even offer their column online, so we can feature it on our Web site. This column is one of the best initiatives The News-Times has undertaken. I recommend it highly to anyone interested in driving classified readership.

Classified Update

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