14
Feb

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“In a world where competition seems endless and there seems to be a new option for connecting buyers and sellers almost daily, Bluefin gives us a tool to offer our customers that is easy, works wonderfully well, and gets results.”

Pat Taylor, Advertising Director, The Pilot

OVERVIEW

The Pilot is an independent tri-weekly newspaper (circulation 14,500) in the Sandhills area of North Carolina. With a strong presence in the community, they are a voice that is respected and looked to for local news and information.

“We work very hard to maintain this position by presenting a strong product with every issue,” said Patrick Taylor, Ad Director for The Pilot. “That is our greatest competitive advantage. We also have a strong editorial web site, a great magazine, a phone book and a book store. Our goals are to produce great products, connect buyers and sellers

to enhance local commerce, and work to make a profit from those efforts. We have built that strong stable of products to enhance results and spread risk and potential reward. As we approach our 100th birthday in a couple of years, we face the same challenges that every other newspaper and traditional media faces. Time pressures, brought on by ever increasing demands for people's attention, make Web self-serve options more popular than ever.”

THE CHALLENGE

Needing to transition to a multi-platform classifieds strategy, in addition to a great print offering, The Pilot strives to become the online destination of choice for relevant, local classified content, as well as to provide advertisers with new ways to place ads online 24×7.

“We had a legacy approach to the self-serve classified placement, which just wasn’t robust enough and required too much hand holding”, Taylor said. “As with the installation of any new web platform, there are some expected issues with getting systems to work seamlessly together. While this transition was not without some glitches at the beginning, they were fewer than with other installs I have experienced. I think that’s because Bluefin put together a package that is compatible with a wide range of software environments, and the fact that every time we brought up something that needed to be done, it was finished quickly and satisfactorily. With each “fix” we solved the problem and put it behind us. There was very little rework required in the process.”

THE SOLUTION

The Pilot chose Bluefin to grow their classifieds presence, and provide a great user experience for the advertisers and readers alike.

“Bluefin allows our readers to create and place advertising on their schedule, without the limitations of having to do business on our schedule”, said Taylor. “Our classified placements via Bluefin’s s web application have grown from 0% to almost 10% of total classified revenue in a short period of time, which proves its value to our readers. I also thought it would work because it is robust without being overly complicated. I was not interested in buying a lot of built-in capacity that we didn’t need or wouldn’t use. While we are a relatively small paper, Bluefin capably suits our needs in every respect.”

THE BENEFITS

In addition to a superior online classified and self-service place ad platform, The Pilot also acquired a strong technology partner for the long-term.

“With Bluefin, it has all worked seamlessly, and that doesn’t always happen”, said Taylor. “That’s a benefit from the start. We have had a steady increase in use, which reduces the time from filling phone orders and enables classified reps to do more selling. That’s a benefit. We can do more selling effort with the same staff. The cost-benefit is a positive.”

“I liked the people at Bluefin right from the start, and continue to believe that they are dedicated to doing things right and treating customers as their number one priority. Upon seeing a demonstration, among several at a conference, I felt like Bluefin was the best fit for our needs.”

IN SUMMARY

As the Bluefin platform continues to gain momentum, the future for online classifieds continue to look bright for The Pilot.

“There is no question that some percentage of the population likes the option of placing their own ads”, Taylor concluded. “We don’t know what the upper limit is yet, because we have not heavily promoted the feature, especially in the recent past. But the fact that it is still on the upswing means we haven’t reached that figure yet. The print-to-web upload to our website is routinely automatic, so it has not impacted our workload in any negative way. We have had almost no complaints about ads getting up on the web in a timely manner, so the customer service element is a positive. And since we tie print and web together as a package for liner ads, having the web portion up within a day is a real benefit to the buyer and a great selling point. “

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