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Are the small-business “home and trade service” advertisers that populate PennySaver and American Classifieds a good bet to buy search packages? That’s the question being posed by American Classifieds, the second-largest classified publisher franchise with 6,000 editions.

The company signed this summer with WebVisible to provide search tools and sales training for 600 sales reps. WebVisible CEO Kirsten Mangers acknowledges the effort is not a slam dunk but thinks it’s worth a try. These advertisers are “largely untouched by newspapers and Yellow Pages,” and they’re touched on a weekly basis by the sales reps. They are well positioned for “more consultative” solutions, she says.

Mangers notes that the AmClass salespeople are 100 percent commission-based, and as print usage declines, they’re hungry for new revenue opportunities, especially online. The search sales packages, typically sold in buckets of 50, 100, 150 or 200 clicks, gives them more diversity in their sales kit, she says. “It is another channel.” The packages might be worth $150 to $1,000 per month, depending on the volume of the buy and the size of the market.

At this point, two-day, Friday and Saturday training sessions have been completed with five teams across the U.S. American Classifieds itself is well poised to leverage search and is Google certified.

While earnings by sales reps for classified publications typically trail other local media, Mangers says the figures are somewhat distorted. It isn’t always that the sales reps are the bottom of the food chain so much as they often are working in rural towns with less revenue opportunity.

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