Jane McDonald attributes the Wellington Advertiser’s success over the years to staff providing the best possible service to the business’ two main customers: advertisers and readers.
“Our regional News and extensive circulation make our paper the ‘go-to’ for not only News, but also for information regarding local businesses, trades people, etcetera,” said McDonald, office/sales manager at the Advertiser.
“People still want to shop local for most of their day-to-day requirements.”
McDonald started at the Advertiser in 2004 after a 24-year hiatus from “the business world” to operate a family dairy farm with her husband Bruce.
Now one of the Newspaper’s longest serving employees, she oversees a team of four sales associates and a front desk/administration position.
Each week the team is responsible for coordinating between 200 and 300 display ads and 80 to 100 word ads in the Newspaper.
“The best thing about this job is that it is constantly changing … there’s never a dull moment,” said McDonald.
“You are aware of local News and events. You get to speak to a variety of people from all sections of the economy – business, farm, community groups, etc.
“And yet the accounting side provides a definite structure to one’s day, week, month, etcetera.”
Sales associate Faye Craig had no previous experience in sales/advertising prior to starting with the Advertiser in 2003.
At the time she was raising her two daughters on a dairy farm just north of Arthur and was involved with the local agricultural society, horticultural society and St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Arthur.
Much like McDonald, who said she had about three days of training before taking over from her predecessor, Craig said there was a lot of learning on the fly, including some self-training on the computer.
“There were no courses. And, to the best of my ability, I figured it out,” said Craig, who did not own a computer at the time.
“I enjoy a challenge and that was one of them.”
One thing working in Craig’s favour was familiarity with the local community, as many of her customers “were my friends from the agricultural world.”
She covers the northern portion of Wellington County, including Arthur, Mount Forest, Clifford, Harriston, Palmerson and areas of Elmira. She also seeks out clients in the Waterloo area.
“I enjoy it very much. I enjoy working with people … and talking on the telephone,” said Craig.
Associate Glenn George brought over 20 years of sales experience and knowledge when he started at the Advertiser in 2009.
George, who primarily covers the Guelph, Rockwood/Acton and Kitchener areas, said the Newspaper is a great place to work.
“I like working here for the atmosphere and all the staff. People here are friendly and easy to work with,” he said.
Two of those co-workers are Sue Otto, who took over in 2017 from longtime Centre Wellington sales associate Sherry Clarke, and Drew Mochrie, who covers Centre Wellington, Erin and Dufferin.
In addition to selling ad space, the sales team also works with production staff to help clients transition from a call to the front desk with an idea or vision to a custom advertisement.
“We discuss how we would create the ad and where information would be located within the ad – for the client’s best advantage,” explained Craig.
She added sales staff also asks about potential advertising on the Newspaper’s website “for further exposure for their advertising dollar.”
Production staff then create the ad from the layout sales staff design with the client – or clients can submit ads they have designed themselves.
Sales staff then proofread the ad and send it to the client for approval.
Craig quipped that because the Wellington Advertiser is a free publication for readers, some people think the advertising is free as well.
“One thing I enjoy about my position is that it is not just about selling ads in the Newspaper, we have other publications such as Wellington Weddings.”
Other publications include Business Leader, a quarterly business magazine, fall fair programs, municipal guides, seasonal business promotions for municipalities and many more.
Craig is particularly proud of the creation of the 2016 IPM Cookbook for the International Plowing Match in Minto.
“It was really amazing. It was a real accomplishment for Helen (production manager Helen Michel) and I,” she said.
McDonald has witnessed many changes at the Advertiser over the last 14 years, notably in computer technology and software.
Shortly after she was hired, the Newspaper started using Adworks, a system for booking and billing ads. Later, the business adopted Classforce to format the pages of the classified section.
“During the first few years, before online classified ad sites existed, people called in, faxed and emailed in their classified word ads,” she recalled.
“With the introduction of our website and other on-line options, this trend has changed. Social media has definitely made an impact on the way people buy and sell items.”
While each department at the Advertiser aims for flawless service and a perfect product, errors unfortunately do happen.
But McDonald said staff aims to ensure issues are resolved with customers as quickly as possible.
“A happy customer is a return customer,” she said, noting staff reviews the situation to ensure the same mistake is not repeated.
Another difficulty that all advertising sales teams inevitably encounter is competition for advertising dollars.
“Everyone seems to want a piece of that pie,” said Craig of media advertising.
But, she added, one thing working in the Advertiser’s favour is its reputation as “a highly respected business, operating and seeking out News for the past 50 years.”
George agreed, noting the Newspaper appeals to advertisers because it is a “well read and respected” publication.
“We offer blanket coverage of Wellington County; no other single paper can offer that,” he said.
“Many advertisers also love the fact that we cover the rural areas as well. They also like the fact that there is News, and plenty of it, to read.”
For Craig, success can be measured in how much she enjoys working with Advertiser clients.
“They are a bunch of fine people,” she said.
“It’s nice to be a contributor, to learn, and to grow with the community.”