Door-to-door sales still has its advantages

By Bob Bobber

Field crewing is more than selling—Some newspapers still use door-to-door sales by district managers, carriers or outside contractors. One of the major drawbacks to door-to-door sales is that it is too expensive. You have to pay mileage and you can only knock on a limited number of doors in a night or Saturday morning. Plus, have you ever walked door-to-door for three or four hours. It is exhausting even for those young at heart. Here is something to consider. Too often we look at door-to-door as strictly selling new subscribers. We need to maximize the efficiency of going door-to-door. Here are some things you need to be doing as part of your effort besides just selling.

l Door hangers—Postage paid subscription cards are a great way to not only get subscriptions from people who are not home, but keep the newspaper on the top of the potential subscriber’s mind. A solicitor also can make commission even when no one is at home. This helps if crew members get discouraged when they are not getting the opportunity to talk to anyone.

l Product information—All field crew members should be equipped with an informational packet on the newspaper. This is particularly helpful when someone is new to the area and is not familiar with your newspaper. Items like a TV book, real estate or entertainment guides, flyers that describe all of your various regular sections and special sections. A small gift such as a pen, magnet, note pad, etc., is also nice.

l Promote upcoming events—If you are having a special section coming up such as back to school, football, gardening, travel, etc., you can have your crews pass out flyers even if the person is not interested in your subscription offer or might already be subscribing. If no one is home you can even use them as leave behinds but be sure to put them somewhere other than the mailbox. The USPS forbids anything being placed in a curb-side mailbox unless it was sent through the USPS.

l Qualified sampling—It has been proven time and time again if someone requests a sample they are more likely to look at the newspaper and evaluate it than if they are selected at random. The result is a high conversion rate. If someone is not sure about your newspaper, ask him or her if she or he would like a sample for the next two weeks and then have someone (if not that solicitor) call on him or her after the two weeks. Conversion rates run as high as 40 percent. The field crew member should be included in some fashion on the commission for this type of sale.

l Coupons—Many times potential subscribers are not familiar with your product and want to try it but they are not interested in a qualified sample. Have coupons made up that give them a discount off of a single-copy purchase at local stores. This gives the potential subscriber an opportunity to try the newspaper at his or her leisure. Our society has also become coupon and discount conscious and it will feel like you are really giving away something.

l Comment Cards—Sometimes you run into people who just don’t like your newspaper for a specific reason. Usually the complaint is editorially oriented. In these cases you should have postage paid postcards that can be filled out and mailed directly to the editor or publisher. Believe it or not the editorial staff of most newspapers want this feedback from their readers or non-readers in this case.

Call it multi-tasking in the new age terms or call it getting a better bang for your buck, but you’ll improve your door-to-door or field crew solicitation. While these ideas are directed specifically at field crewing, many can be applied to kiosk or storefront sales as well.

© Bob Bobber 2011

Bob Bobber is a newspaper consultant specializing in circulation sales, training and public speaking. You contact him at


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