AOL PATCH: Hyper-Local Sales a Priority

Patch; AOL’s bet on hyper-local news, is now executing the next phase of their highly anticipated roll-out. Many markets have reported recruiter inquiries, private meetings, and attempted poaching of traditional newsrooms. Some local bloggers are saying ‘no thanks’, while others are accepting the (reportedly) mediocre offers.

The employment boards are brimming with Patch job posts looking for editors, regional publishers and most importantly: seasoned local & regional sales executives. Hmmmmm. Sales hires already? Now that’s smart.

AOL’s decision to hire for sales expertise early in the process, is a game changing move in the local online news space. They are one of the rare few to put early emphasis on sales. To date, most hyper-efforts have foolishly made sales a secondary concern during editorial ramp up, preferring to build traffic first. That’s been a far too common, fatal flaw for most hyper-local experiments like NYT’s The Local, and McClatchy’s project with the Miami Herald. Even The Seattle Times’ linking to blogs falls short: watch clip that reveals how they leverage free editorial coverage from indie journos, with no revenue or compensation discussion.

Will Patch succeed where NYT’s The Local, SDNN, and other blogs have struggled?

While we don’t think Patch will have an immediate impact on local editorial coverage and online revenue…….we do think it’s more proof of the immense opportunity in hyper-local news and small-biz advertising dollars…..and we do think AOL’s early and smart focus on sales will give them a leg up, and a substantial chance for succeeding, where others have failed.

This is FAIR WARNING to any independent site, news blog, or traditional media organization. If you want to financially thrive in this new media eco-system, it’s time to run your site like a business, not a hobby. Even if your selling some ads and making a half decent living, your still quite vulnerable to those (like Patch) who will try to steamroll you with deep pocketed, editorial and sales fire power.

Patch is now building local advertiser directories, using good old fashioned face-to-face client calls. They build a relationship with small business in order to sell them something at a later date. Patch is serious about the revenue piece of hyper-local’s puzzle. They’re well aware that without revenue and profit, there’s no serious chance of consistent and self-sustaining, local news coverage.

How can a local news site win against Patch? We recommend the formation of local ad and content networks that SHARE resources. Especially sales, marketing and business resources. Online News Incubators are just one example of how it’s being done. Contact us for additional info on how to quickly and effectively, set one up……with little or no cost involved.

Here’s the job posting for the AOL Patch opening in Philadelphia:

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Title :  Regional Publisher, Online Advertising Sales, Philadelphia area

Patch  Market Pennsylvania – Philadelphia Position Type : Full Time

Are you passionate about online sales and advertising? Are you entrepreneur at heart? Do you love the idea of establishing emerging markets? Are you equally comfortable with client visits and web analytics? If so, keep reading….

We’re Patch.com an internet startup owned by a major global online media company looking to re-invent local online advertising, and we’re seeking a web- savvy sales person with management experience. The person will serve as our Regional Ad Manager over seeing ad sales for dynamic new sites devoted to news and information about suburban markets throughout the Philadelphia area and beyond.

In this job, you’ll be managing a sales team and working closely with local advertisers –from mom and pops to large regional clients, as their local online advertising expert. You’ll know your own platform (and others) backwards and forwards so you can present complete advertising solutions. You may even decide to host a local seminar on how to achieve the best results by advertising on the web. As the top local business executive you will attend chamber and trade functions, get involved in community groups, head up charitable efforts, and maintain a highly visible presence in the business community.

It’s the right job for an utterly self-motivated individual who gets an adrenaline rush from starting up a business, obsesses over numbers and analytics, and can work flexible hours. Ideal candidates will have in-depth understanding of current and emerging media. Preferably, you’re a local resident yourself and you’re plugged into the local business communities we are covering.

It will be a huge, live-and-breathe-it endeavor, which is why we’re offering competitive compensation, benefits and performance-based bonuses.

Job Responsibilities:

• The Regional Advertising Manager is responsible online ad sales and management of the advertising sales team in Philadelphia.
• Responsible for all advertising revenue and metrics in the region
• Manage the marketing and promotional budget for a group of 20 sites, responding to requests from editorial and advertising.
• Recruiting and hiring of local sales representatives.
• Develop existing sales team members by frequent coaching of sales efforts, overseeing the general direction of the team and individual sellers by reviewing pipeline, non- selling activities, and market place trends.
• Attend, sponsor and/or host business events; become the regional expert and evangelist for Patch and online advertising generally
• Become a visible business leader in the community, and develop strong relationships with small, mid-size, and regional advertisers; and key local players.
• Drive local and regional marketing initiatives (including Give5 which is Patch’s charitable program)
• Present promotional opportunities and display options to store owners/management,
• Identify and pursue opportunities to increase sales of current and new offerings.
• Ad sales, inventory management, and “owning” the online advertising for assigned local markets.

Required skills:
• Top notch sales and marketing instincts.
• Should have the willingness to act as a media consultant and the ability to close/ask for the sale.
• Must be a born leader with ability to hire, train, coach, and mentor junior sales staff.
• Will understand online advertising and also have ability to manage sales, inventory, design and other aspects of online advertising simultaneously.
• Deep understanding of online and local ad markets, trends, metrics, etc.
• Ability to publicly represent Patch as the future of local news and information

Desired skills:
• Passionate about the web, social networking, and online community websites.
• Be able to quickly grasp the interests, rhythms, and identity of a community.
• Unparalleled organizational skills.
• Must have great interpersonal and communication skills and enjoy working hard.

Educational and Experience:
• Bachelor’s degree, preferably in marketing, business, or related discipline.
• 5 to 10 years of Media sales experience, with significant online advertising sales
• 3 to 5 years experience managing a sales team to include field and remote staff

Unique requirements:
You will work from home, the coffee shop, your car, and in and out of businesses daily. Must own a car and be able to provide your own transportation throughout region assigned. Must be willing to relocate or live near or in the markets we are hiring. Ability and willingness to work various hours outside of the typical M-F and 9-5.  To include some weekends.