Here is a number that every business owner should have stamped in their brains. For every additional 5% of your business you can retain, you can increase your bottom line by 100%.

Run the numbers at your newspapers. I suspect these numbers are fairly close at your property, as well. While each of our properties may vary slightly, that basic premise holds true more often than not.

How many of our newspapers would enjoy growing our bottom lines another 100%? How many of us are continually going after new business, which is becoming more and more difficult to find? The flip question might be: How many of us are devoting the appropriate amount of financial and human capital into retaining what we already have and/or even growing that portion of the business.

Retention or retaining our current customers is indeed a big deal and becoming even bigger as the economy faces serious headwinds.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the 360 Loyalty Expo in Orlando, Florida. I came away with a renewed energy and dedication for the process and importance of retaining our current customers. It was indeed a learning experience to watch and learn how many outside our industry view the importance of retention. I venture to say it is viewed much more aggressively than obtaining new clients and customers.

While retaining our customers was the main focus of the conference, one presentation seemed to stand out as one that might once again present our industry with yet one more chance to get it right. Barry Kirk of Bunchball presented on how online gaming is truly transforming the retention world as we know it.

He discussed how it is no secret our readers have fundamental needs and desires — for rewards, status, achievement, and even competition. Games have provided that outlet for centuries. More recently, online games are now the place where many of those needs are currently being met.

He introduced us to the art of “gamification.” Gamification is an emerging dynamic force in the ever-expanding marketing arena. Not only is it a powerful marketing engine, it effectively unlocks deep consumer loyalty, engagement, and behaviour associations.

We know readers are attracted to earning badges, trophies, and other various rewards for participating. Readers are competitive and enjoy comparing where they stand among their peers. Many of our readers are already involved in this arena. Our readers are motivated and engaged with multiple online games. For whatever reason, the newsmedia industry is once again near the last to embrace these trends or habits.

The newsmedia industry can learn from the habits of others, especially the habits of our readers. Online games and contest are one of the fastest growing segments of the online community. Providing a gaming interaction between our content and our readers is a natural progression in today’s online world.

The real question is: Will our industry embrace yet another opportunity or let this one pass us by, as well? No one will argue that retention is critical to long-term well-being. That being the case, when new opportunities present themselves, we need to embrace the technology. We need to be asking ourselves how we can capitalise on the trends and habits of our readers and turn this into our playground and not our graveyard.