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March 16, 2007 / Toby Dayton

Do Newspapers Need An Online Network for Job Ads?

One of yesterday’s MediaPost articles entitled “Newspaper Round-up: Online Classified Partnerships” cited the 2006 Deutsche Bank study on print/web partnerships that are now sweeping the industry, at least among the big 3 – Career Builder, Monster, and Yahoo!. The Deutsche Bank study found that newspapers that are part of a larger, online network delivering job classifieds held onto a larger portion of their particular market’s recruitment classified spend. The study then concluded that in order to survive, daily newspapers would have to eventually join a network or build one on their own.

While the conclusion might be true, I don’t think it is entirely because of the inherent value that any given network provides to employers, jobseekers, or a newspaper company. While there is some value in being able to deliver a level of critical mass as well as jobs from throughout the country, I think the value that a jobs network brings to daily newspapers is due in part to the poor condition of the sales force within most daily papers.

For decades, monopolist dailies have been able to generate enormous cash flows by being the only game in town. As Warren Buffet stated in his annual report this year, “No paper in a one-paper city, however bad the product or however inept the management, could avoid gushing profits.” As a result, newspapers never really had to develop a culture based around building and delivering a compelling value proposition or effectively selling that value proposition to advertisers. They simply possessed it by virtue of being a monopoly. And now, that that is no longer the case, most newspapers simply do not have the sales organizations to compete in a ferociously competitive environment. That’s why some newspapers have resorted to questionable tactics such as lying to advertisers about circulation and threatening competing publications and their distribution outlets. They just simply do not know how to create a compelling value proposition and/or don’t have the sales force to sell it.

Over the past few years, we have had customers tell us remarkable stories about trying to work with the daily paper in various markets. More than once, customers have told us stories about arguing with the sales rep at the daily paper about what industry their business was in, what type of job was being advertised, and where the employment ad should go in the classified section of the paper. While we will gladly take the resulting business, it is inconceivable to me how difficult newspapers make it for their advertisers to do business with them. From customer service and billing, to ad design and placement, not to mention cost and effectiveness, newspapers and their sales forces have simply struggled to transition themselves into customer-centric, sales-oriented organizations. It’s no wonder that daily newspapers who are part of a larger network do better in recruitment classifieds. If you cannot create and sell value on your own, you absolutely should outsource those facets of your business to someone who can, even if they are only slight capable of doing a better job than you. But if you have to outsource your sales in order to survive, how sustainable is your business model?

Time it took to read the daily paper this morning: 10 minutes and 25 seconds.

Daily recommendation for the dailies: Rather than outsource your sales department to Monster, Career Builder, or Yahoo!, work on developing and improving your own sales force. Sales people within daily newspapers need to transition from order takers to actual helpers that can truly meet the needs of advertisers.

By the way, be sure to check out Cheezhead today and every Friday if you haven’t already. This is awesome. Thanks Joel, for putting a smile on my face at least 5 times already today.

[tags]Death of Newspapers, Job Boards, Employment Sites, Classified Networks, Newspaper Sales Force, Newspaper Recommendations, Newspaper Monopolies[/tags]


  1. Joel Cheesman / Mar 16 2007 11:52 am

    Happy to help with the smiles.

  2. LuckyAdam / Mar 16 2007 12:14 pm

    From a guy who makes a sizable portion of his money based on the inadequacies of the daily newspapers, and especially their order taking mentality, I hope they are not reading this blog.

    My advise to daily newspapers: Continue the way your are currently doing business like you are still operating in a monopoly. People like me are VERY grateful.

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