Monday, March 1, 2004
By Tara McMeekin
Many smaller newspapers lack the resources and creative staff to
chase after big advertisers in their markets because they feel they
have little to offer in terms of creative advertising strategies.
The (Cheyenne) Wyoming Tribune-Eagle late last year
crafted its own solution to that problem by tapping into the deep
reservoir of creative advertising content that goes unused.
To do that, the Tribune-Eagle (daily, 15,517; Sunday,
17,111) installed software from Thought Equity Inc., a Denver firm
that gives newspapers access to unused ideas, ad layout designs
and artwork from agencies and creative shops nationwide.
"They're selling the ideas that didn't get used, which
I think is a fantastic concept," said Scott Walker, the Tribune-Eagle's
vice president of operations.
Thought Equity provides concepts that newspapers
can use to take to advertisers. As shown above, the concepts can
be tailored to fit a particular market.
The Tribune-Eagle's relatively small size means it's
saddled with limited resources; as a result, it can't afford to
employ many graphic or creative designers, Walker said.
"We hope that this will give us access to other people's
creativity that we can take out and use to get our foot in the door
with some new advertising segments," Walker said.
Among those tough-to-attract segments are Cheyenne-area
medical and healthcare companies, which include doctor's offices
"They've always been afraid to advertise in the past,"
Thought Equity, he said, has allowed the Tribune-Eagle
to present to potential advertisers unique, professional-looking
ideas and concepts that are geared toward their particular industry.
Walker said the newspaper does not intend to sell
the concepts "as is" but that they provide a good starting point.
"It would be a door opener and we would end up using
the concept with a little different layout or a photograph with
a slightly different concept or that type of thing," he said.
The Tribune-Eagle made its first sale last month based
on a Thought Equity-archived campaign and Walker said he believes
the daily is off to a good start.
"I don't think we're going to get three sales a week
off of it because we do our own spec ads," he said. "And it's not
something you take out to a car dealer for their big annual sale,
it's more for institutional types of ads."
Walker said he's not concerned that a competing
newspaper might use the same concept. Once a paper uses a particular
campaign, Thought Equity removes it from its database for a 90-day
period to reduce the chance of overuse or duplication.
"The chances of our advertiser being down in
Denver for the day and opening up the paper and seeing their ad
(concept used by another company) is pretty much impossible in the
near term," Walker said.
Thought Equity's software lets users search
categories and browse concepts that can be turned into tailored
Walker said most of his newspaper's advertisers
don't expect creative exclusivity anyway because they know that
comes with a price.
"They're just looking for something unique or
different or really out of the ordinary, so the potential of having
that idea shared somewhere else in the country isn't that big of
a deal to them," he said.
The Tribune-Eagle installed the software in
December and Thought Equity provided the training for newspaper
staff. Several of the Tribune-Eagle's staff, including sales people
and graphic artists, have access to the software.
Walker said that although his sales staff prefers to plan ahead
for presentations, the new software can be used to access ideas
"If you're a busy salesperson and running around
and at five minutes before your presentation saying, 'gee, I wish
I had something to take with me,' we can also get something that
quickly," he added.
Walker said the concepts in Thought Equity's
package serve as a foundation for further discussion with the paper's
"We can always change and bring them something
different or evolve it, which is really what we expect to do with
it," Walker said.
He also said the software has given his newspaper
access to quality photography. The majority of the Tribune-Eagle's
advertisers - about 98 percent - do not have agencies or creative
shops designing ads for them, Walker said.
"Our typical advertiser is somebody like a car
dealer who runs a sale every week and runs 300 cars in their ad,
and this thing doesn't really fit for that," Walker said. But Thought
Equity's software will let the Tribune-Eagle go to companies and
organizations that don't yet advertise heavily in the paper, Walker
"I'm really sold on the concept."
Thought Equity's fees are based on the circulation
of a newspaper and its market size. Customers also pay a flat monthly
fee, regardless of the number of campaign ideas used.
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