Gary Campbell is among the directory publishing executives with the most experience in building a performance-based ad model in the print product. He is now hoping to leverage that experience in a new venture called Cost Per Call Solutions.
The new company was founded with colleagues from the recently disbanded Canwest Directories operation. CPC Solutions will offer traditional media players a team of sales reps who will take a cost-per-call package to advertiser at the tail end of a sales canvass in order to close non-advertisers, existing accounts that failed to renew and others that might be more receptive to PPC than a traditional subscription model.
Campbell’s former venture, Canwest Directories, a performance-based print and online directory business with titles in Ottawa, Ontario, and Regina and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, was shut down late last year by parent company Canwest.
In a recent telephone conversation, Campbell argued that the shutdown had a lot more to do with the condition of Canwest than the soundness of the directory unit’s operations. Winnipeg-based Canwest is facing serious financial challenges and is at risk of violating debt covenants.
Campbell believes strongly that in less turbulent times, his business would have been given more time to develop, or at least a more aggressive effort would have been made to find a buyer. However, in this media environment Canwest Directories didn’t have the luxury of time. It probably had to produce a monster success in order to have a chance of surviving the current turmoil.
“Canwest’s decision had more to do with the head office than with the [directory] business,” Campbell said.
Despite the demise of Canwest Directories, Campbell believes the lessons learned from two years of selling on a pay-per-call model will be valuable to clients of his new venture. Canwest Directories produced two editions of its pay-per-call book in Ottawa and one each in Regina and Saskatoon. The experience servicing 2,500 pay-per-call advertisers (plus other smaller accounts that bought on a more traditional subscription model) has taught Campbell and his partners a thing or two about which categories, ad sizes and sales approaches work, and do not work, in selling pay-per-call.
One of the core ideas of the new venture is that it makes sense to have a self-contained pay-per-call sales force.
“One of our findings was that once a sales rep has sold this way [pay-per-call] it is difficult for them to sell any other way,” Campbell says.
By bringing in an outside force like his, Campbell contends, publishers can use pay-per-call with minimal risk.
“They do not need to disrupt existing operations,” he says.
Campbell’s new venture certainly is well timed. While implementation is still a work in progress, more and more publishers are pushing aggressively into pay-per-call in print. One question Campbell faces is the degree to which publishers will want to bring in an outside sales team or will choose to fully integrate PPC into their operations. In either scenario, there is a need for expertise is designing and implementing new ways of selling directional media advertising.