Sometimes it’s good to create a stir


My wife and I have family friends who told us about their boating experiences in northern Virginia. They had a pontoon boat which was docked at a local lake. During the cold months, they used a device called a dock bubbler to keep the water around the boat from freezing. 

As they explained it, a bubbler, also known as a de-icer, features a perforated hose connected to an air compressor, which is placed along the bottom of the lake next to the dock. The hose releases air bubbles that push up warmer water from below, which in turn, creates an area of unfrozen water above the hose. 

In simple terms that my non-scientific brain can understand, the water won’t freeze when it’s constantly in motion while warmer water is circulating. 

This talk of dock bubblers and constant motion reminds me of a conversation with Matthew, who oversees an ad team. “We fight against complacency all the time,” he said. “Once a salesperson makes a sale and the ads start running on a regular schedule, there might be a tendency to move that client to the back burner. And before you know it, a lot of time can go by without any meaningful contact. During that lapse, there’s a good chance that our advertiser is hearing from other media outlets. When that happens, we want our advertiser to remember all the good reasons they are running with us. 

“Our solution is to keep things stirred up – in a good way, of course,” he explained. “It’s all about staying top-of-mind with advertisers. If we fade into the background after the sale, we’re not providing good service.” 

Let’s take a look at two fundamental ways to keep things stirred up: 

  1. Focus on the business. “The first action step is to continually monitor the results of their ads,” Matthew said. “What’s working? What could work better? What products are moving? Which ads are resonating with readers? Are competitors changing their messaging? 

“Then it’s important to work together to conduct periodic reviews and adjustments. Show your advertiser that you’re always thinking about them and how to make their ads more productive. 

“And don’t wait until the eleventh hour to talk about contract renewals. I’ve see that happen, and it’s not a pretty picture. It sends the message that we’re disorganized or not paying attention. If we’re doing our job the right way, contract renewal time usually goes much smoother.” 

  1. Focus on the person. Matthew mentioned the old saying: “People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” 

Relationships count. Years ago, I saw a bumper sticker that read, “The best vitamin for making friends is B1.” In our world, this could be delivering extra tear sheets to display in store windows – without being asked. And it could be taking time to say ‘”hi” and sincerely ask how their kid’s soccer team is doing. 

Turn on your customer service bubbler. You’ll prevent freeze-ups and keep things moving. 


(c) Copyright 2024 by John Foust. All rights reserved.



John Foust has conducted training programs for thousands of newspaper advertising professionals. Many ad departments are using his training DVDs to save time and get quick results from in-house training. Email for information: