12 Newspaper Marketing Ideas
by NCMA National Community Media Association
by Brandon Gaille
The newspaper is ultra-competitive today and the margins are incredibly low for many
communities. Your ability to succeed depends on two things: the amount of circulation that
you have and the number of advertisers that are willing to work with you. These proven
marketing ideas will help any newspaper create a stronger presence in their community,
build up revenues, and create a foundation for a sustainable future.
It all begins with your ability to provide useful content. Information comes from dozens of
sources and people are flooded to a point of being overwhelmed. You can set
yourself apart by digging deeper into critical stories, pulling out the fine details that matter
most to your readership, while focusing on local interests that keep people connected. If
your newspaper is a network for your community, youíll be able to implement these
Great Newspaper Marketing Ideas that Work
- Take Advantage of Your Space
You have a lot of extra space for content and advertising that is undoubtedly underutilized.
If your delivery personnel is using bags, then youíve got a chance to offer a guerrilla
marketing campaign to others. Rack space, front page pull-offs, specific inserts, and even
sample add-ons can all be part of the sales pitch.
- Make Your Business Website Interactive
Having a quality website that lets your community network and interacts will help to bring in
additional advertising revenues for you. It also gives you a place where you and your
advertisers can look at community trends to plan future content and marketing efforts.
Some websites are utilizing a subscription model, which may bring in some revenues, but
most newspapers will benefit more from the marketing value.
- Review Local Artists
Make an effort to get to know local artists and writers and review their work. Everyone
loves to be in print and all of their family and friends will purchase papers that their loved
one appears within. You may also find that some of your review quotes could be used for
their own marketing efforts and that just adds to the level of local influence that youíll have.
- Offer Commissioned Articles
Instead of selling blocks of advertising space, try selling articles that are commissioned
so that you get content and the purchaser gets advertising. It is like having a feature column,
but you get paid for space instead of paying a writer. This can be extended to any field,
including artists who wants additional exposure.
- Have a Daily Deal
Could Groupon for newspapers really work? You can not offer deep discounts on extended
newspaper subscriptions, but there are other deals you could offer to your community.
Fringe advertising space is a good place to start, or you could offer
someone the chance to be a columnist/reporter for a day, or maybe become a staff
- Run a Contest
The only thing better than seeing your own work in print is being able to win something for
free because of that work. Contests that involve writing and photography are a natural fit
for a newspaper. You can run monthly contests for kids, great Christmas lighting, or
the best essay about local politics. You might even be able to have paid entries for better
prizes or you could work with your advertisers for products.
- Go Digital First
Newspapers are struggling in this digital age because people want information now instead
of later. Being a digital-first medium with your website and publish breaking news as it
happens. Get people to sign up for your RSS feeds to get local updates and provide them
for free. Use your actual print media to follow-up on breaking stories with in-depth
reporting. So often newspapers do this in reverse and that is often why newspapers fail.
- Offer Direct Transactions For Merchandise
Are you struggling with revenues for your products? Thanks to digital credit card
processors like Square or even PayPal, you can offer direct transactions for merchandise
that people will want. With declining revenues, youíve got to do something different. Trade
up by partnering with or even starting a secondary business that coordinates with your
current business, such as a thrift store that offers consignments that are advertised in your
- Provide Local Search Options
Newspaper websites are often one of the first glimpses that someone outside of the
community has. Itís also a great place for local businesses to be found in an easier way
than using geo-targeted Google search SEO to be found. Coupons can be offered,
archived news stories can be found, and your local listings might just get ranked highly in
search engines too!
- Develop a Calendar
Print calendars have been a staple of newspapers for years, but what about digital
calendars that are specifically tailored to individual needs? You have access to community
events, upcoming concerts, exclusive movie premieres, and a lot of other cool stuff. Not
only will this digital calendar presence help people plan, but with direct transactions, you will
be able to offer fast access to events and get a commission on the sale.
- Use Social Media Differently
Instead of promoting yourself on social media, try promoting local businesses so you can
become a networking hub. This will also give you the chance to offer better ads to local
businesses because your posts can become individually targeted, show up in local news
feeds, and be noticed at a time when people are more sensitized to the value your
advertisers can provide.
- Have a Good Mobile App
Let your customers make their own spec ads by having a useful mobile app that will let
them design their own ad based on your specifications. The app is another place where
advertising can be sold and it can be structured for news alerts or even your local blogging
network. Youíll save a lot of time, business owners will feel creative, and youíll have a new