Put on your party hat, grab the bubbly, and commit to solid change in the new year. Exercise and weight loss are timeless resolutions. But what is your professional resolution? Now it’s time to get your newspaper customers in shape.
People follow a path of least resistance. At The Gazette in Janesville, Wisconsin, we have a robust strategy that de-programmes consumers’ procrastination tendencies. We like to say we use procrastination to our favour.
EASYPAY (pre-authorised monthly auto-payment) ensures publishers longer-term relationships. Even on acquisitions relying on promotional pressure. Start the relationship by putting your best foot forward. Sell new customers into EASYPAY.
This discussion focuses solely on The Gazette’s acquisition operations alignment with EASYPAY.
Let’s start with your start pressure.
Your sales plan tells you how many starts are needed to offset stops. That’s an important piece of data. It’s your roadmap. Your consumer sales manager has a finite budget for producing new customers. When executed properly, her or his efforts produce a yield of new customers.
Your advertisers are paying attention to your audience. If your goal is to sustain your net paid audience first, and secondly grow it, keep reading.
During this New Year’s period of annual renewal think about how your customers renew. Think about how they pay you. Map your renewal transactions in 2013. Understand how many paid a 52-week term, 26-week term, 13-week term, etc. You should also include the number of EASYPAY renewals secured in 2013.... [more]
28 November 2013 · by Scott Stines
If you had only a US$1 marketing budget for your news media organisation in 2014, how and where would you invest that dollar to generate the greatest return for your business?
Would you invest in your core business to maintain profit margins or invest in new businesses or revenue sources to ensure future financial results?
As 2014 approaches, most marketers face the challenge of delivering more results with fewer resources. So where is the smart money going to be spent in 2014?
Regardless of where you are in your 2014 budget process, I recommend you bring your staff together and ask them to answer this simple question: If we had only had US$1 to spend, where would we spend it to maximise our financial returns in 2014?
The answers you get might be surprising and, at the very least, revealing.
Some will say we need to spend more money on selling what we already have to sell. In other words, we need to invest in our core business to maintain profit margins and provide the resources for future growth opportunities.
Still others will say we need to spend money on creating new products and services that will serve to diversify and generate new revenue and profit streams for the business.... [more]
18 November 2013 · by Bob Provost
“Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move men”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749 to 1832
The quote leading this posting holds a significant truth for those of us who strive to address the multiple challenges of the rapidly transforming media and advertising environment.
Adapted to fit the media sales challenge, Goethe’s quote might be paraphrased as: “You have to have big ideas to succeed because no one writes big checks for small ideas.”
Over the past seven months, the marketing team at The Star-Ledger in New Jersey has supported several significant and successful sales initiatives undertaken by our advertising colleagues.
The outcomes have demonstrated that when we present from a position of strength and confidence, clients respond with respect and confidence – and often we do get “a big check.”... [more]
04 November 2013 · by Lon Haenel
Before Do Not Call laws, life was different in most circulation departments in the United States.
Consumers were familiar with buying things over the phone. Often, goods and services could be purchased at a very reasonable price.
Too many folks complained to legislators, and laws were enacted to protect the privacy of consumers. In 2003, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission passed laws allowing constomers to opt-out of telemarketers by registering on a Do Not Call Registry. Now, only select households receive telemarketed offers.
Whatever remaining consumers who do not appear on Do Not Call directories are all that remain of the once vibrant market.
Newspapers benefited from the low cost of telemarketing conversion. Orders were plentiful and cheap. Anybody with a phone number could be reached. It was a very efficient method of securing new starts.
Those days are over — likely forever. The telephone, however, remains a strong tool. It is one of the least expensive ways to engage human-to-human, for the sake of sales conversion.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
There is a form of inbound marketing that utilises the strength of the telephone, while seemingly ignoring the jurisdiction of Do Not Call rules. It’s called reverse telemarketing. Harnessing the magic of telephone communication, the concept is fed by driving large volume to your call center.
In other words, prospective customers call you.
Local campaigns have driven large numbers of consumers protected by Do Not Call lists. The value of the segment lies in the hope that reaching them via a telephone conversation is better than not reaching them at all.
Now that cold solicitation calls are forbidden to folks on a Do Not Call list, you have access to them once again through the telephone — by enticing them to call you.
Why does it work?... [more]
27 October 2013 · by Joe Talcott
It has been a few years since the impact of digital media became soberingly evident.
I was director of marketing when the effects of this disruptive force started to bite. Looking back now, I see the reaction to these powerful market forces was in line with a pattern established in industries far beyond news media.
Of course, the clear view of hindsight is superior to the blurred vision while in the fog of changing technologies, consumer patterns, and business models. But using that clear vision can be beneficial as we face inevitable disruptive forces of the future.
The pattern of behaviour by many successful businesses when faced with major disruptive forces is simple and yet insidiously destructive. It can be stated with mnemonic alliteration: deny, defend, and die.
The first reaction to the crisis, and often it isn’t even recognised as a crisis at this point, is denial:
- “What we are seeing is a passing fad.”
- “We’ve been through these things before, and we’ve come through them.”
In support of my own denial, I reviewed historical examples of newspapers surviving challenges from radio in the 1920s and television in the 1950s. I took solace from the fact that many newspapers weathered those storms.
What I didn’t want to see was that many didn’t. And those that did still saw their circulations drop dramatically.
Once the evidence becomes insurmountable, businesses move quickly to defend their current model and preserve the benefits that they and their stakeholders have long enjoyed. Defensive strategies are put into place, with an attitude of “circle the wagons” and fortify our offerings.... [more]
22 October 2013 · by Scott Stines
The first tenet in business is “know your customer.” In the news media world that translates to “know your audience.”
So why are news media companies around the globe pushing back from the ability to not only quantify but also qualify their audiences across communications channels?
Whether we’re talking about online registrations, contests entries, or even posting news, sports, and feature articles online, a significant number of news media companies have opted for quantity over quality when it comes to growing and/or understanding their audiences.
News media companies are failing to request audience contact information – as in first name, last name, address, city, state, zip code, phone, and e-mail – fearing that fewer audience members will register, sign up, or respond when they are asked to provide personal information.
It is true that fewer audience members will register, sign up, or respond if they are asked to identify themselves. But based on discussions with several news media business leaders from markets in North America, most are experiencing a drop-off of no more than 15% to 20% in audience engagement.
The remaining 80% to 85% of audience members are willing to identify themselves, providing their names, where they live, and how they can be contacted.... [more]
07 October 2013 · by Bob Provost
The reality of declining paid circulation and consumer migration to digital platforms (preferably our own) has impacted virtually every member of the print media.
It’s time to recognise the old paradigms are no longer relevant, but that doesn’t mean you should abandon the print marketplace. It simply means you need to embrace a new approach and step “outside the nine dots” of traditional newspaper sales of paid circulation.
If your newspaper hasn’t already begun to shift its positioning and adjust its nomenclature, then now is the time to do it. Sustaining meaningful, affordable market coverage is essential to maintaining the effectiveness of print advertising. Physical distribution of pre-printed ad materials and ROP ads to non-subscribers (not just your paid subscribers) is vital to your survival, perhaps even more so in the digital age.
Failure to achieve quality delivery, meaningful levels of market coverage, and consumer acceptance of your delivery package compromises your value to the advertising clients whose support you depend on.
It might be considered heresy (it was at the time), but I left the paid circulation audits and the spiel about the superior value of paid delivery behind in the ’90s, long before coming to work at The Star-Ledger in New Jersey. And the major accounts team at the Star-Ledger embraced near-saturation delivery years ago.... [more]
26 September 2013 · by Lon Haenel
“Tell me a little about yourself.” What a great opening question.
It’s a question I haven’t heard in a while. I have a job and I’m fortunate enough to work in the newspaper business. I have a resume, but haven’t needed to spruce it up. Nor have I recently been in a job interview where I answer the questions.
Interviewing is an important tool. Hiring new talent is a lot about getting to know the candidates. Folks on the street looking for work understand the marketplace is competitive.
Give your newspaper a ‘Brand-Aid’
But that’s what our brands do every day. If you are involved in maintaining or growing your paid audience, you know your market demands to know a little about you.
Readers and subscribers make decisions about what they know about us. Buying decisions are made—and lost—on account of brand.
Companies and products are not brands. Only brands are brands. Without a brand, the consumer has a stale relationship with whatever perception he or she holds.
Brands provide businesses the precious opportunity to have a conversation about what really matters. Cola and car sales are won and lost on account of brand.... [more]
18 September 2013 · by Joe Talcott
If Samuel Clemens were alive today, might he have chosen “Mark Tweet” as his pen name rather than Mark Twain?
The famous American writer is quoted nearly everywhere. His observations and opinions are delivered in concise, witty, and thoughtful phrases, many of which are 140 characters or less. Consider this very short sampling:
“Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.”
“Honesty is the best policy — when there is money in it.”
“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.”
“Travel is fatal to prejudice.”
“When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or not.”
“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.”
“Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”
Reading these, you could be excused for thinking that Mark Twain was a “King of the One Liners.”
But here's the thing. Mark Twain didn't write quotes. He wrote. And then he was quoted. He wrote profusely. Ponderously. Provocatively. In fact, he wasn't a fan of the aphorism.
Writing in The Galaxy about the American patriot and author Benjamin Franklin, he said: “Benjamin Franklin did a great many notable things for his country, and made her young name to be honoured in many lands as the mother of such a son. It is not the idea of this memoir to ignore that or cover it up. No; the simple idea of it is to snub those pretentious maxims of his, which he worked up with a great show of originality out of truisms that had become wearisome platitudes as early as the dispersion from Babel.”
Mark Twain’s words have been published on Twitter and Facebook (some accurate quotes, and many mis-attributed) regularly. It makes me wonder about the longevity of things written today with our new super-abbreviated language.
Will anyone remember today’s tweets and posts? Will they be quoted 50 years from now in media that requires an even fewer number of characters?
Ask yourself, what tweets do you remember, including those that you may have even written yourself?!
I’m not opposed to this new strand of communications that has boomed over the past few years. I read it. I write it. But I’ve encountered many people who talk about communications as though it was a zero-sum game. Electronic communications must replace printed communications. Short-form must take the place of long-form. The quip must supplant the profound.
In an effort to cling to a dwindling audience, media companies have moved, albeit begrudgingly, from the world of paper, ink, and journalism to commentary, posts. These moves come from an economic imperative, to slow the flow of red ink.
But we are still in a transition phase. I hope that in our exuberance to chase readers we do not abandon products that can attract readers — products that have lasting value.
I have no doubt that the mix of media will continue to change. But I shudder to think that great journalism and great writing will be replaced by snippets of truncated thoughts, hastily written with the thumb, and just as hastily deleted by a reader annoyed that the words on his phone have briefly interrupted Angry Birds.
12 September 2013 · by Scott Stines
If you’re searching for the correct answer for how to grow audience and revenue, look no further than the “all of the above” option.
Today, success is the result of doing 1,000 little things better. There are no more home runs, just bases on balls, penalty kicks, or taking one in the head for successful audience and revenue growth.
Call it “incremental marketing” or whatever you want. Just be sure you are doing more of it every day across every facet of your organisation.
Around the world, news media organisations are looking for the best combination of brand, product, and promotional tactics to elevate audience and revenue. Despite social media consuming more and more consumer time and attention, the “production level” results haven’t materialised for many organisations when it comes to making the cash register ring.
It’s not enough to reach a larger audience unless you are using that reach to drive awareness, interest, and engagement with your community. We live in a world in which there can be no preferred audience or revenue channel. We must open every window and every door every day to drive sustainable audience and revenue. And then ask, “What next?”
Should we be online? Not unless we’re serious. It starts with content, but doesn’t end there. Slapping up the news – even with continuous updates throughout the day – isn’t enough to disrupt the micro-attention span of those who surf, search, and read.
Today, we need to “cut the content meat” into little, digestible pieces and realise that time of day impacts whether consumers want us to serve it as sushi or fire-grilled medium-well.... [more]