Ways To Market Your Newspaper

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Jun 27, 2008 en El ABC del periodista

Marketing means selling your dream to others. So you can’t be shy when it comes to talking about your newspaper. That’s where advertising comes in. At a start-up or struggling newspaper, the best tool for advertising is frequently your own newspaper. Advertising yourself in the pages of your own newspaper does two things: (1) It gets your message to lots of people (2) It demonstrates that you have confidence in your own product. As an added benefit, you can afford it.

Look at everything you are currently doing and ask yourself these questions: (1) Does it delivers a message that promotes the sale of advertising or newspapers? (2) Are you doing it often enough to make readers notice?

Here are some examples that demonstrate the wide range of ways you can “advertise” or “market” your newspaper.

If you have kiosks where you sell subscriptions and classified ads, they can be effective advertising tools. (Here, we’re talking about kiosks that exclusively promote your paper, not the newsstand kiosks that sell all newspapers and magazines.) Such kiosks should be in high traffic areas, such as shopping malls, train stations, post offices. It should be clearly identified with a good sign. Think creatively about how you can bring attention to the kiosk and the newspaper.

  • Can you paint the whole desk in your newspaper’s colors?
  • Can it have a big vase of fresh flowers every day?
  • Can the attendant always wear a newspaper t-shirt?
  • Can the area have a sign that tells what services it renders – such as: You can buy a subscription, change the address for your delivery, buy a small ad, and drop off information for a story – all at this desk.
  • Can you also sell newspaper t-shirts, hats, and whatever other promotional items you might have from time to time?

Ads about your newspaper can be placed in your paper to increase business from existing customers and to bring in new customers. Set a goal and repeat the ad often enough to make your point. One goal of this advertising might be to increase the number of individuals (not businesses) who place ads to sell goods or services. We call these ads placed by individuals “private party” ads. Ads that feature satisfied customers talking about what a good job a business did for them are often called “testimonials.”

  • Ads about your newspaper can be designed around existing business advertisers – like the auto dealer who sold a record number of cars after advertising in your newspaper. The goal of these ads is to encourage non-advertisers in the same or similar businesses to also advertise.
  • Ads can also be designed around readers – like the subscriber who knows what to watch on TV because he checks the daily listings in your newspaper. You can use “fake” people in any of these ads, of course, but the ads will be much more powerful if you use real people with real success stories. Just be sure you get the permission of the people or businesses you feature in these ads.

Informational ads can be used to educate potential readers about what they’ll find in the newspaper. If you have a special supplement that gives all the television listings, it can be a powerful place for running informational ads about other features. For example: if a page of military news will appear on Tuesdays, promote it with an ad near the Monday television listings saying: Be sure to read the latest military news in tomorrow’s newspaper.

Events and contests can be used to make people more aware that the newspaper exists. Most newspapers already do a lot of contests. But all too often there is no goal other than to promote a good image of the newspaper. Just holding a contest is not marketing. Just giving away free copies of the newspaper isn’t marketing either. Holding a contest that includes giving away copies of the newspaper for people to become familiar with the newspaper IS marketing.

For example:

  • An essay contest for young school children promotes newspaper sales if you promise to run one or two “winning” essays a week during the summer. Run the winners on random days without telling people who’s essay will appear when. That way, they’ll develop a newspaper buying and reading habit while looking for the children’s essays.
  • A contest can promote advertising when existing advertisers get the opportunity to be “participating sponsors” by offering prizes if they are given good recognition at the contest site and in the newspaper. Don’t trade ads for prizes; instead give good advertisers recognition in the contest announcement, rules, and other materials. Before you sponsor any event or hold any contest, ask: How can I make this sell newspapers or advertising?

Window placards can be used to identify stores that advertise in the newspaper, or stores that sell the newspaper. Signs on heavy size A4 paper, made on the office copier, can be given to each store to place in its window.

  • If the store is an advertiser, the sign says: Watch for my ads in (X newspaper).
  • If the store sells newspapers, the sign says: “Buy (X newspaper) here.

The signs, of course, are in the newspaper’s colors. Stores should be willing to place the signs in their windows because the signs tie their business and their relationship with your newspaper together to maximize their sales. You will be helping the store do more business. And that helps you do more business.

Here are some other ideas you might try:

  • Explain yourself frequently in print, both in ads and news stories about what you’re doing. People need to understand your message before they can become firm believers and supporters.
  • Create a marketing brochure about the newspaper to leave with potential advertisers. This brochure becomes your 24-hour salesperson. The potential advertiser will refer to it at his/her convenience and will become better informed about your newspaper.
  • You can develop an eye-catching brochure easily and inexpensively by creating a newspaper about your newspaper. Include information about distribution, statistics, descriptions of your readers and a map of the area you cover as well as a list of your advertising rates and policies.
  • See that other news media take notice of you. If you’re a small newspaper or if you’re just starting in business and you’ve published a really good story or investigation, see that a copy of it gets to a large or well-known newspaper or television station that you would like to see carry the same story – with some credit to you, of course. To make this happen, you have to build a relationship with reporters or editors at other papers. (Caution: choose the newspapers for these relationships wisely. The reputation of the newspapers you associate with will reflect on your newspaper.) Try to have members of the staff as speakers in classrooms and at clubs or local organizations. Explaining yourself and answering questions from the public in this very personal way will be difficult – sometimes people will be hostile – but is very effective in building recognition and support.

--Adapted from ICFJ Training Materials by Judith Roales