SNO Report: Selling your own ads

Your site is fully equipped to feature advertisements, a revenue stream that could help you pay your site’s annual bill and more, but you need to find the businesses willing to buy the real estate and you don’t know how or where to get started. We’re here to help, thank goodness.

Here are a few tips we think will help kickstart your ad selling venture…

1. Make it someone’s job
Delegate the responsibilities to one person, who you could call your Business Manager. It can be their sole focus to create your strategy (specifically, come up with advertising rates and a “rate card” for potential advertisers) and to sell, sell, sell.

P.S. Make them read this email.

2. Create a rate card

This is a sheet you can hand to a business owner that outlines your prices (different prices for different sizes), and a form for them to fill out. It’s all the information they need and you need. It’s a bonus to be able to present them with a breakdown of where the ad spots are available to go on your site. Create that as part of your card. Here’s an example.

Your site should also have this rate card available, so create an Advertising page.

3. Figure out appealing prices

It may take some trial and error for you to figure out what you should be charging for an ad. You want to charge what business owners are willing to pay, and we don’t know what that magic number is. But you gotta start somewhere! Approach people with a $50 per month, per spot rate and see which emoji they make with their face.

4. Be ready with deals to offer

Be flexible with these local business owners of yours. Offer them discounts for extended runs. Buying the spot for a month? For the whole year? Discount.

Tie the sale in with your print edition, too. Offer them a bundle price that gives them an ad spot online and in print.

If you’re operating with our Ad Manager add-on, you could offer them an exclusive spot, instead of being part of the rotation.

5. Approach the right people at the right time

You’re not selling an ad to Apple or Prada. Stay local. Small business owners. Parents. People who want to reach your audience and who your audience wants to know about.

And approach them at the perfect time. Homecoming or Prom coming up? Reach out to local tuxedo and dress renters and photography companies. Is it exam season? Contact tutoring services. Your football team’s in the playoffs? Who wants to buy a “Good Luck” ad?

6. Offer a few perks or add-ons

A small locally-owned business may not know how to design their own ad. Offer your design talents. Whatever you do, don’t just scan a flyer or business card.

You’re better than that.

Separately, maybe you could offer to push their product or business on social media. Like, for an extra $5 we’ll tweet a promotional ad about you (i.e. “Thank your for sponsoring our site, insert local business here!”).

7. Know your audience

Use Google Analytics to educate yourselves about the demographics of your audience. A local business will think students are the only readers of your website. That’s not always true. Tell them that! You may also be getting parents, alums, or who knows who else.

Be prepared to tell the business owner who they’ll be able to reach, as well as how many views their ad is likely to get. If their ad is appearing in your Ad Manager, you’ll be able to track how many times their ad was clicked, or you’ll be able to estimate ahead of time based on past experiences with other businesses.

8. Bring them value back

You need to have something to sell them on. Those Google Analytics can help, but your site should also be pretty convincing.

Post something daily, or as often as you possibly can.

Have a site that looks good, one they’d want their ad posted on.

We also have the SNO Ad Marketplace, which is you handing the job off to us. With it, your site is added to a list where advertisers can go find you and click to buy ad space. You don’t have to do anything. When they buy, we’ll review their ad and either reject it or approve it to show up live on your site. You can always ask us about one we approved if you don’t like it. You’ll generate some profit from this service, too, if ads are being bought — 65 percent of the purchase goes back to you.

If you still need help or if you have ideas of your own, share them with the SNO community.