AAN West Helps Retail Adsfolk Reap Rewards

Concluding AAN West’s retail advertising programming, Kelly Wirges of ProMax Training wowed her audience by exhibiting the same enthusiasm she counseled in her presentation about sales strategies and customer service. “Everything you do or do not do today,” she said, “will affect your business tomorrow.”

“I love her energy,” Anchorage Press Account Representative Bridget Raynard said of Wirges. “She has a real ability to talk to everyone in the room. She moves quickly but comes back to the main points. By her stories, you get a sense that she’s walked a mile in your moccasins.”

The conference’s retail advertising programming began Friday, the previous day, with an eight-minute speed meet. Attendees took the opportunity to match names with faces, share ideas and create new contacts.

Also Friday, in a “Focus: Competition” roundtable session, small groups of retail advertising executives shared ideas for dealing with competitive markets. Phyllis Britton, advertising director for Arkansas Times, spoke about the pros and cons that potential customers see in advertising with daily arts and entertainment papers and faux-alts.

Britton said that such papers have cheaper rates, are lined with client-pleasing advertorial content, and read as easily as children’s books. But she also pointed out that such publications have no integrity, poor design and circulation, and much meaningless ad filler.

Camille Cimini Fruin, display account executive for the Santa Barbara Independent, spoke about radio advertising, explaining that its allure for potential clients is immediacy, the prospect of reaching a captive “drive time” audience and greater frequency.

She was quick to add that radio’s popularity is waning due to in-dash CD players and other distractions — like road rage and nose hair plucking — as well as the loss of tactile sensation (i.e., people still want to pick up the paper to find out what’s going on).

The next day, J. Phillip Beswick and Rick Gardner of The Media Audit gave a seminar about how best to utilize market research in presentations and proposals, and how to prevent prospective clients’ eyes from glazing over when you’re discussing numbers. AAN’s Roxanne Cooper rounded out the programming with a seminar about reaching influential readers, with tips gleaned from the results of the AAN-sponsored “Influentials & Culture” study.

The seminars and workshops proved to be as dynamic and motivated as the folks who attended. “It reinvigorated me,” said Jeffrey Stout of Eugene Weekly. “This was a chance for me to redirect the negative and pick up new ways to be positive.”

Todd Bleakley, ad director of Oklahoma Gazette, said, “It gave me more incisive info as to how we can best serve our customers.” Spoken like a true salesman.

Samantha Campos is the associate editor of Maui Time Weekly.