Helping businesses grow is challenging, rewarding

Published 9:15 am Thursday, September 15, 2016

Let me go ahead and get this out of the way: I’m not a salesman.

I know that is something every salesman says right before they try to sell you something.

In this case, I honestly believe it is true; recent evidence only furthering my conviction of this.

I went to college to be a journalist. Writing and telling stories continues to be among my greatest passions.

Then about 13 years or so ago, after serving in a variety of reporter and editor roles, I was blessed to become a newspaper publisher and my focus was forced to change a bit. (This is where you can cue all the Peter Principle jokes that “every employee tends to rise to his or her level of incompetence.”)

Some key elements of my role, as publisher, is to understand at least generally how every department of the business works, how they all interconnect and looking at the big picture.

It became much more a marathon than a sprint. (Although most days I feel like I’m running that 26.2 miles at a 100-meter pace that would make Olympian Usain Bolt proud.)

Over the years I’ve had to help in advertising, both as a marketing representative and as a manager. I always believed that I wasn’t cut out for sales. But what I realized is that individuals working in the “sales” department” for our newspapers are lots of things but really aren’t salespeople at all.

Most importantly, they are — or will be after extensive training — marketing experts who become partners with local businesses with the sole focus on helping grow the customer base.

Do they have to “offer” businesses things from time to time? Of course, but all are done with the business’ needs in mind. In the end, if the advertising doesn’t serve its purpose to help the business grow no one wins.

Let’s be clear about one thing. Advertising works. Period.

Different types of advertising works for different things, but it is beyond debate that businesses have to get their message out to consumers. Otherwise multi-billion dollar companies wouldn’t continue to spend millions on it each year.

I always use the “$100 bill” example when someone wants to say advertising doesn’t work.

It’s simple.

Run an advertisement — newspaper, magazine, TV, radio, the back of your T-shirt, it doesn’t matter — that says you will give a $100 bill to any person who visits your business Saturday. You better go ahead and hire extra security because I promise you will need crowd control.

I’ve been reminded of all this in recent days as I filled a vacancy during my search for a new marketing expert. I’ve had the great opportunity to get to know a little more about some of our businesses and their owners.

Since I may not have the natural inclination for this role I just relied on my passion and knowledge of the products.

I’m excited to say I have found a good person to take this position but know that I’ll be a better leader from this experience.

A little hydration and it is back to the marathon, one where the always-moving finish line is simply producing the best community newspapers possible.


Michael Caldwell is the publisher of Leader Publications LLC. He can be reached at (269) 687-7700 or by email at