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 (run of paper) 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.

Over the years, they have tweaked and tuned and partnered their way to what is today a highly effective distribution network spanning five counties and hundreds of thousands of homes.

Mail, carrier, or subscriber delivery is transparent and undifferentiated to our clients. Our department store, supermarket, and home improvement retail clients have all spoken highly of the effectiveness of our distribution, and we have no shortage of testimonials.

At a time when many pundits are forecasting the imminent demise of print media, a closer look generally reveals that our ROI-minded (return on investment) preprint clients who measure results in sales rather than impressions or clicks have sustained their investment in print advertising.

In fact, those who have in moments of uncertainty moved away from print have moved back.

Earlier this year we commissioned research (Customers By Design, LLC- Ed Efchak) to document the effectiveness of our delivery systems and the recognition of our direct marketing “package.”

The results were beyond our expectations and have spawned a new campaign promoting not the newspaper but the “Power of the Package.”

The collateral specifically quotes the study and addresses the simplicity of our completely integrated direct mail product. The most powerful outcome of the research was that it statistically validated what our major clients had already told us.

The study presented us with statistics that clearly indicated consumers actively engaged with our direct marketing package: opened it, shopped it, planned, and made purchases using it. In fact, eight out of 10 respondents indicated they “took action by redeeming a coupon or making a shopping trip to make a purchase.”

Compared to any other direct marketing product option in the marketplace, The Star-Ledger’s package was far and away the most effective. The next most effective marketplace package received a rating of less than 2 (out of 10) on that measure.

Ed Efchak, principal at Customers By Design, LLC, used an innovative, Web-based survey process that enabled participants to view the mail packages they were rating while taking the survey.

Please don’t take my topic today as a denial of the digital marketplace! Our proposals and presentations integrate SEO/SEM, mobile, Web, video, e-mail, and all the other digital tools necessary to address our clients’ needs.

However, while a myriad of media sales organisations are out there offering digital solutions, I for one feel we are at a huge advantage by being the multi-media solutions provider. Print is an asset even to your digital sales programme.