Print is not dead. It might never die. That’s the good news.
As news organisations, to survive we must change. And so, newspaper might not always mean “news on paper.”
For more than 150 years, Industrial Age thinking led many to believe a mass-produced product must be good. It was great. There hadn’t been much competition, until lately.
Publishers could circulate a one-size-fits-all product. Advertisers would benefit by reaching an entire community. And the notion of targeted communication wouldn’t come along until some 100 years later.
Newspaper might not always mean “news” either.
It just so happens the content produced by great newsrooms across the globe happens to be, well, news. Thank the Internet for that. Content is the Internet’s most abundant resource. There’s lots of it; it’s easy to get to; it’s easy to find; and there are multiple way to consume it.
One of the greatest recent advances has been the mobile revolution. It’s not a trend, it’s an explosion. Much has changed over the last 150 years.... [more]
23 February 2014 · by Scott Stines
We live in a world where 24/7 self-service is the norm and customers can obtain “instant service” with the click of a mouse.
Even though customers have been empowered to “manage” their relationships with most businesses – including news media companies – there is still an opportunity for proactive customer service to not only delight customers, but provide news media companies with measurable financial benefits.
Below are several examples of proactive customer service delivering a win-win for customers and media organisations.
Anticipating delivery problems: In recent weeks, the southeast United States experienced a once-in-a-decade winter storm with ice, snow, and more ice, impacting travel as well as newspaper delivery. Weather forecasters provided advance notice of the storm, which helped keep people off the roads, but left newspaper circulation staffs across the region with the challenge of managing subscribers’ expectations.
Todd Benz, circulation director of The Times-News in Burlington, North Carolina, is originally from Wisconsin (no stranger to snow). He knew that facing a major snow and ice storm in a community without adequate snow removal equipment was going to present a challenge for newspaper delivery.... [more]
16 February 2014 · by Phil Schroder
Defined by Webster’s Dictionary, this word means “extending beyond the usual or ordinary, especially in size or scope.”
That’s the word we used to describe the Seattle Seahawks’ National Football League championship in the Super Bowl on Feb. 2.
These last couple of weeks, our team at The News Tribune has been floating on air. We have not had a championship on this level in Seattle since 1979, when the Sonics won the National Basketball Association title. Most of us were not working at The News Tribune 35 years ago, and some weren’t even born.
So what did we do to make this one special? We spent a lot of time planning. The three weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, our team spent hours planning for different contingencies.
First, the Seahawks had to win the National Football Conference (NFC) championship, which they did in the final seconds, thanks to their stellar defense.
The next day, we sold about 3,500 more newspapers than on an average Monday, or a 67% increase. We were pleased with the sales, but then moved on to planning for the Super Bowl.... [more]
05 February 2014 · by Lon Haenel
Many parts of the world are knee-deep in snow, ice, and cold winter temperatures. If you’re like me, chances are you’re ready for the next season. Chirping birds, melting snow, and just a little bit of green will be a welcome sign of a warmer season.
On the business calendar, another season is showing signs of life, too. That’s the conference season. When the weather warms, many groups and trade associations plan annual sales, marketing, and media conferences.
Your conference planners put a year of work into attracting your industry in for a few days. Generally, the goal is to provide networking, education, and exposure to solutions for problems we commonly face.
This isn’t a sales pitch for any particular conference. Personally, I’ve attended dozens of conferences on topics ranging from circulation to advertising, from digital marketing to postal reform.
What I’d like to share, however, are six great ways to get more from your 2014 conferences.
It costs money to travel to conferences. Somebody is making an investment for you to attend. Hopefully, you or somebody in your organisation believes enough to make that investment.
So I’d like to share a few tips to be sure conferences in our industry continue. But more importantly, I want to increase your conference return on investment (ROI).... [more]
30 January 2014 · by Scott Stines
The small table and sign went unnoticed the first dozen times I drove past.
Perhaps I was in a hurry or my brain had flipped to auto-pilot as I found myself in a familiar place just a couple blocks from home.
After a couple of weeks, I finally noticed there would sometimes be people standing by the small table – a couple with their bikes parked on the sidewalk, a young woman stopping while walking her dog, a middle-aged man pausing during a run.
It wasn’t until one warm weekend afternoon that I finally recognised what was going on.
Traffic had backed up, and I found myself sitting in my car directly across from the table, waiting for the light ahead to change. There, sitting at the small table, was a young boy, no more than 10 years old. A sign hanging from the front of the table simply read, “Cold Drinks – 50 cents.”
I finally had noticed what is, in many regions of the United States, referred to as a neighborhood “Kool-Aid stand.”... [more]
07 January 2014 · by Lon Haenel
In last month’s blog space, we celebrated. Our new customers will say, “Cheers!” to the New Year as we grow audiences.
It’s important to move in the direction of profitable new circulation units. So we follow a strategy of “beginning with the end in mind.”
Last month we reviewed strategy and tactics to sell new subscribers into auto-pay. When you commit to growing auto-pay through your communication and response channels, acquisition work is just part of the picture. There is enormous power in leveraging retention channels, as well.
In the communication business, we have a daily “in” with our customers. Every customer receives at least one daily touchpoint. How well do you leverage that advantage?
Of course, messaging to encourage easy-pay behaviour is a great start. Keep reading, and we’ll discuss other tactics.... [more]
22 December 2013 · by Phil Schroder
How is the customer experience at your organsation? Why is customer service important?
Many of us don’t talk to our customers every day, so we do not really have a pulse on how our customer feels. We might also say that we understand why it’s important, but have you made decisions in your organisation that reflect otherwise?
Let’s look at the stats.
According to the American Express 2012 Global Customer Service Barometer, 66% of Americans are willing to spend an average of 13% more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service.
Also, in the past year, 55% of consumers have intended to conduct a business transaction or make a purchase, but decided not to based on a poor service experience.
So good customer service can translate into a higher revenue per customer and be the decision point of someone purchasing our product. Again, these are probably obvious conclusions to many of us, but the problem is: We aren’t listening.
When I started in Tacoma this past March, the first thing I wanted to do was get a pulse of why our customers were leaving the newspaper. So I asked them.
We mailed 10,000 letters to former subscribers, asking them why they had stopped. We also gave them a special offer to re-subscribe and told them to call or e-mail ... me.
That was an eye-opening experience.
After more than 400 e-mails and 250 phone conversations (and 350 paid subscriptions), I became convinced of one thing: We needed to improve the way we communicate with our customers.
So we took on the task of reinventing our customer experience.... [more]
17 December 2013 · by Bob Provost
I will ask the reader’s pardon in advance. I am about to share observations that are rich in paradox and contradiction and I know it before I begin to write.
And I will take my sweet time about answering the question posed in the title above. But I am exultant and have to allow the stream of consciousness that is flowing through my brain to spill out into this post.
The best part is that if you have the opportunity to have a similar experience at your organisation, you likely would have the same epiphany I did.
Brainstorming at The Star-Ledger has moved out from behind the closed doors of offices and into the new, open, “white board” planning areas that have been adopted from floor plans at other Advance Communications properties.
I consider myself no stranger to brainstorming. For decades I have enjoyed stunning new (and some not-so-new) colleagues with my trademark “Let’s close the door, smoke some dope, and solve the problem” invitation to join me in an unfettered, “no idea is a bad idea” skull session. (Sorry, no actual dope is smoked).... [more]
08 December 2013 · by Lon Haenel
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]