Classified Conference Smaller

But focused on generating new revenue

About 40 classified directors and publishers gathered in unseasonably warm Minneapolis Nov. 2-3 for two days of classified roundtables, seminars and panels.

While attendance was down from 85 last year, the group was focused and eager to pump up their classified revenue

The conference was “fabulous for me, because I am new,” says Bee Dee Slyn, classified coordinator at LEO, the Louisville Eccentric Observer. It was “great meeting other classified people, getting new ideas,” she said. “All the talks about real estate and auto were very helpful because those are the two directions we want to grow in. I came away so energized.”

In addition to the official conference events at the Minneapolis Hilton, some participants defied national shopping mall paranoia by visiting the Mall of America and the new downtown Target, while others pursued the musical mascot of Minneapolis—Prince.

The first annual “AAN CANny Awards” presentation recognized those newspapers that generated more than 90 percent of all of the AAN Classified Network ads in fiscal 2001, accounting for more than 52 percent of the association’s fiscal 2001 revenue. Because of the success of the AAN CAN program, each AAN member paper was offered one free registration to the Classified Conference as well as another free registration for the 2002 Annual Convention in Madison, Wis.

Representatives from 17 of the 58 papers that won AAN CANnys were presented awards certificates and AAN CAN clocks for their classified departments.

In other business, presenters and attendees shared classified techniques and tips during roundtables, seminars, and panels.

Among the ideas generated were:

Invite Realtors to a seminar on writing good ad copy with free ads as prizes in a business card drawing.

Become a “paper of record” and get legal notices ads. Presenters say rules differ in every jurisdiction, but suggest that classified reps take their county clerk to lunch and ask how the paper can become a paper of record. “You may have to become a notary or get one on your staff,” said Kat Thornton, president of K.V. Thornton Associates, one of the conference faculty members.” The key is to make it easy to run the ad. Offer to set up an online form or buy a scanner to avoid the rekeying.”

Hold “pink slip parties,” that is job fairs or social events for the recently laid off and other interested people in partnership with a club that is a display advertiser as well as a few major recruiting sponsors.

Thornton shared a success story on the recent San Francisco Bay Guardian “Progressive Job Opportunities” job fair. The fair drew more than 3,000 attendees to Oakland’s City Hall, the use of which was donated for the event.

About 100 booths were sold to non-profit and government organizations and other employers. The result for the Bay Guardian: a $20,000 to $23,000 increase in classified ads in one week. The event built community spirit and also gave the Bay Guardian a chance to plaster its logo on balloons and bags. Bay Guardian musical staffers showcased their acts on the steps of City Hall, Thornton said. Thornton has served as a consultant to the Bay Guardian.

Mitch Lieber, a contact center expert who is also an instructor for Teleservices & Contact Centers for DePaul University’s Direct Marketing Certificate program, presented a workshop on “Achieving Telesales Success in 2002’s Economy”.