How to Create a Classified Advertising Section for a Print Newspaper


The print newspaper classified advertising industry is worth about $15 billion annually. That is a major source of income for print newspapers worldwide. Even as the online classified advertising industry begins to outpace print classifieds, there is still plenty of room for this tried-and-true method of generating revenue for any print operation.

You need to design an aesthetically appealing, easily navigable classified advertising program that not only proves an easy up-front sell to advertisers, but also makes readers want to sift through your classifieds. If you don't have both ends of that equation covered, your classified advertising section will sink, and you will be out a lot of money.

Additionally, you must pay attention to targeting your audience by knowing who they are and where they get your newspaper.

Things You'll Need

  • Existing print newspaper
  • Layout program
  • Extensive accounting skills
  • A knack for writing succinct, effective ads
  • Dependable distribution
  • Telesales skills
  • Well-managed sales team

Design the look of your classified advertising section. First and foremost, it must be easy to read, with easy-to-understand headings. Readers will be visually scanning your classified advertising section for the headings that closely match whatever they are looking for. They call it "classified" because the listings are listed in classes, e.g. Auto, Employment, Real Estate, and so on.

You can use Quark or another layout program to design the template for your print classified advertising section. Make sure your banner headline for the section is easily noticeable.

Determine the classes to be included in your classified advertising section. If your newspaper is a mainstream-like news source about current events, opinion, and features, you should keep your classified ads general. For example:

Autos Real Estate Employment Services For Sale

Keep it general and useful for a large audience.

Target your audience. If your print newspaper is geared towards people who live in a certain area of the country, have a certain set of interests, or are of a certain age group, try to secure advertising that targets those demographics.

Create the rate structure for your advertisers to refer to when placing classified ads with your print newspaper. You can charge by the character, by the word, or by the line. You can offer discounts for classified advertising space purchased in bulk, i.e. multiple insertions of the same ad, or multiple differing ads placed by the same advertiser.

Include the above information in a rate sheet that you can easily fax off, email, or snail mail to potential advertisers. The rate sheet should also act as an advertisement for placing classified ads in your print newspaper. Include statistics about the readership, the potential return on income for the advertisers, and a testimonial or two by satisfied advertisers.

Contact potential advertisers. You can find them in a number of ways. One tried-and-true way of doing this is by sifting through your competitions' classified advertising sections and telephoning the numbers found therein. This is a way of "raiding" the competition. You can also use the Yellow Pages.

Be creative about how you find your leads.

Sell those ads hard. This is a form of telemarketing. Methods for securing the trust of potential advertisers are as diverse as the number of newspapers in the world. Put your telesales skills to good use by dialing a lot of numbers and speaking with potential advertisers. Each member of your sales team should be making at least a few dozen calls every day. On slow days when few people are available to talk on the phone, each of your sales team members should be making about 120 dials a day.

Help your advertisers write the ads. Often the advertiser will specify exactly what she wants when placing an ad, but never be afraid to suggest changes to make the ad more effective. The headline must be extremely clear, the text must be a bit catchy if appropriate, and the contact information for the reader to purchase the product of service must be visible.

Make sure your newspaper is being distributed properly. If your readers cannot see the ads, then your advertisers will never make any money and they will pull out.

Tips & Warnings

  • Your print newspaper classified advertising section has to be a tightly run ship. Make everything accountable by keeping accurate records.
  • Some of your advertisers will not make any money off your ad due to a plethora of factors. Some of this will be your fault, some will be the fault of the advertiser, and some will be due to factors outside anyone's control. You have to be tough and keep trying. Strive to improve the effectiveness of your classified advertising section by promoting it heavily in other sections of your newspaper.

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