What kind of man reads your newspaper?

February 1, 2013

By Jerry Bellune
Publishers' Toolbox

Hugh Hefner was a master strategist at identifying whom he wanted to read Playboy magazine. Hefner developed an entire campaign around “What kind of man reads Playboy.”
He took away the guilt of reading what basically was a skin magazine. He made his young, up-and-comer readers feel hip, cool and sophisticated. Steve Jobs did the same with Apple.
He knew whom he wanted to attract as customers and knew how to go after them. He didn’t want just anyone who could afford his products. He wanted people who would become advocates and help him attract others like them.
These are two good examples of what community newspaper publishers should be doing.
Everything that we do should be designed to attract the right readers and advertisers.
That means our electronic editions as well as our home delivered print editions.

Who do you want
to read you online?
The readers you want to attract online should be the kind of people who:
1. Respect and love your news and feature content on line and in print.
2. Will advocate your newspaper and website to their friends and relatives.
3. Will see your advertising as a reliable guide to products and services they need and want.
This should fit the description your advertisers want to attract and retain as loyal clients. You also should know who you don’t want—tire kickers and other undesirables.
At least that’s whom we and our advertisers don’t want.

Three strategies
Design your e-edition strategies to win converts and advocates to your newspaper.
1. Update your site daily—or as often as possible.
One of our editors does a morning local news program on one of our radio stations.
The local news he talks about on the air goes on our website.
He discusses with his listeners where they can get details, online and in print.
2. Put up a paywall on your site.
We need to let readers know that our news content is valuable.
If we give it away free, we cheapen its value.
Afraid you’ll lose online readers? You bet you will. But they are the cheapskates. They think everything online should be free. That’s nonsense.
3. Make your online news available to select groups.
We give our military readers free access to news on our site. Many of them serve us in harm’s way in distant locations.
With a special password we make available, they can keep up with news back home.
Think that wins us advocates, friends, and converts? You’re right, it does.
February takeaway thought. Would you help us raise $10,000 for literacy tutoring? A personally autographed copy of my “Lead People, Manage Things” leadership book is available for a $20 donation. Just e-mail me at JerryBellune@yahoo.com for copies. © The Bellune Co. 2013

Jerry Bellune coaches newspaper owners in the field-tested strategies he and his family’ use to run their profitable book and newspaper publishing companies in South Carolina.

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