The La Jolla Light’s new sales and advertising director has a very clear vision of his role.
“Our job is to understand this medium (print advertising) better than anybody else because it’s our core business,” said David Fowler, 59. “My job is to help this team really master this craft. The focus is really effective advertising, not just selling ads.”
Fowler’s top priority will be to increase advertising sales, seeing that ads and their content improves while ensuring that advertisers get more leads as a result of the ads they run.
Previously, Fowler ran a regional retail advertising agency in the New York area for 10 years. “We placed more print ads in the New York Times than all the agencies in the tri-state area combined,” he said.
After that, Fowler was hired as a consultant by the New York Times to train the newspaper’s staff, helping them create better ads. “They asked me to run workshops for advertisers,” he said. “Advertisers would bring in their very poor ads, and in the workshops we would tear them apart and put them back together again. The Times saw a lot of increase in ad revenue because the advertisers would come back saying, ‘We used the ideas - and they worked.’ ”
Fowler believes in a direct approach, one designed to get immediate results."They want the ad to actually make the phone ring, or people walk in their stores or businesses. If the ad does its job well, it brings the right people. It brings them motivated to buy.”
Fowler will work with advertisers to help them understand their clients in order to better serve their needs. “You really need to understand what it is the buyer wants and what are the hot buttons, the pain points,” he said.
A firm believer in the viability of community-based advertising, Fowler feels the “community sell” is a strong one. He said: “A lot of people know you and trust you. Trust is a really big issue. It’s very relationship-oriented advertising.”
It’s a challenging time to be a print sales and advertising director. To meet the demands in the 21st century market, it will be necessary to devise direct-response versus image ads. Direct-response ads are those that cause someone to respond immediately to an advertising appeal, like picking up a phone and calling to get more information, as opposed to image ads, frequently used by institutions such as banks to cultivate an image or ambiance for their institution over a long period of time.
Fowler is married to Pamela and has two step-sons. He never realized before he was married just how much children engage a person in life. “It changed me,” he said, “because I really look forward to hanging out with kids and doing kids’ stuff. It’s a really nice balance in my life that I never had before, and didn’t even know I missed.”
Fowler will also work with Light advertisers to round out their advertising mix to include things such as brochures, fliers, signs, Web sites and e-mail ads. “There are a lot of ways we can expand our business by helping somebody in ways that they may not have thought about us,” he said.
The goal of print advertising is to become indispensible to the client. “That’s a hard thing to do,” pointed out Fowler. “Doing work that actually produces a result, that’s how you become indispensible. We can help businesses grow their revenues.”