Advertising Resurgence in Local Newspapers

This article was written by Jim Busch, taken from “Paper-Chain” a SAPA publication.

Many, many, many years ago when I landed my first sales job, one of the “old-timers” gave me some advice that I forgot, “This job is simple kid, the more you tell, the more you sell!” He went on to explain that to be successful, a salesperson needs to reach out to as many potential buyers as possible and tell them what your product has to offer them. This is as true today as it was forty years ago. The only problem is that today, those prospects are harder and harder to find. Many of the goods and services once offered by local merchants are now provided by large national chains. Once, a salesperson could walk into a business on Main Street, introduce themselves to a business owner and have a conversation about advertising. Today in many cases, the local store manager doesn’t have time to talk and if you do manage to get a few minutes with them, they will likely tell you that they have no control over their advertising. You will most likely hear, “That’s handled by corporate, you’ll have to talk to them.” The spread of “big box” stores, franchises and national chains has had a major impact on local community papers.

Many of the small local businesses that made up our traditional advertising base have been forced to close up or to align themselves with a national franchise. The local businesses that have managed to survive have done so by cutting costs, often including deep cuts in their advertising budgets. (A short-sighted strategy that often hastens their decline.)

Fortunately, the changes that have shaken the media world in the last few years have opened up new opportunities for local community papers to do business with major national advertisers. While national retailers have wholeheartedly embraced digital media, their media research has discovered what we’ve always known, “Nothing beats print when you want to really connect with consumers!”

After spending years building their online presence these major advertisers have found that print is, by far, the best way to get coupons and sales flyers in the hands of their customers. For decades, national advertisers relied on the metro daily papers to deliver their flyers and run their display ads. The closing of many of these papers and the industry wide decline in daily newspaper circulation has led national media buyers to seek other methods to connect with consumers. After decades of ignoring the reach and readership of free and community newspapers, national media buyers have begun to realize the value of our publications. Many papers are receiving orders from large retailers that refused to take their phone calls just a few short years ago. This is a windfall for these papers providing a consistent source of revenue with a minimum of effort required, as they usually consist of pre-printed flyers or PDF layouts. Running these programs also enhances the value of your publication…local consumers want to know what is on sale where they do most of their shopping.

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