Use your TMC to increase paid subscribers
May 6, 2014
oes your newspaper publish a shopper?
Approximately half the paid community newspapers in the country also distribute a free shopper that either stands on its own as a profit center or—in tandem with the paper—expands the number of homes reached for display advertising and inserts.
In this day when paid circulation numbers are so difficult to maintain, a shopper also can be an invaluable tool to use to solicit new subscriptions.
It reaches those elusive non-subscribers, the people who don’t read the paper. It can help convince them to get on board as subscribers.
Unfortunately, many papers don’t take advantage. They run generic house ads, usually as filler, that pretty much say, “Subscribe to the Bugle.”
The ads are about as exciting as watching paint dry and, even worse, they’re produced by a company that’s supposed to have expertise in the design of effective print advertising.
Let’s take a look at a strategy to keep a subscription ad run in a shopper fresh, compelling and effective.
The key is: Tell the non-subscriber what he is missing if he doesn’t read the newspaper.
Here’s how the strategy works:
• Schedule a quarter- to half-page subscription ad to run in the shopper every week, no exceptions. It’s not a filler ad. It’s a vital ad.
• It should run in the same page position every week, and in process color, if available.
• The heading can read something like, “Headlines from this week’s edition of the Bonner County Bugle”—or “Don’t miss all the local news from The Bugle—more than a newspaper, a local legend since 1874.”
Then, headlines or brief summaries of key stories from the current issue are listed.
From this week’s Bugle:
• BRIDGEPORT MAYOR RESIGNS, SAYS HE’S ‘BURNED OUT’
• BONNER SCHOOL PRINCIPAL AUTHORIZED TO CARRY FIREARM
• NEW YMCA BUILDING TO OPEN MAY 1
• BOBBER’S BEARING COMPANY TO HIRE 70 NEW EMPLOYEES
• SPARTAN FOOTBALL GREAT VINCE MARINO’S NUMBER TO BE RETIRED
• THREE BROTHERS NAMED EAGLE SCOUTS IN CEREMONY
IF YOU DON’T SUBSCRIBE, THEN YOU’RE MISSING OUT ON YOUR HOMETOWN NEWS.
CALL ________ FOR A FREE ONE-MONTH TRIAL SUBSCRIPTION!
AGAIN! — CALL __________ FOR A FREE ONE-MONTH TRIAL SUBSCRIPTION.
• The ad can be set up as a template, and the editor can change the copy every week. The task should take about 10 minutes. It’s also good to run a picture beside one of the headlines, preferably in full color.
• Change the subscription special once every couple of weeks. For example, three months free for new subscribers—20 percent off—a free premium.
If you follow this system religiously, expect a minimum of one subscription a week per 1,000 distribution of the shopper. For example, a 6,000 distribution shopper equals six new subscriptions per ad.
Think that doesn’t sound like much?
Think again. That’s 312 new subscribers a year, a great return by any measure. © Ken Blum 2014
Ken Blum is the publisher of Butterfly Publications, an advising/speaking/publishing business dedicated to improving the profitability and quality of community newspapers. He puts out a monthly free e-mail newsletter titled Black Inklings. It features nuts and bolts ideas to improve revenue and profits at hometown papers. To subscribe to the newsletter or contact Ken, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org; or phone to 330-682-3416.