Advertisers Are Customers – How Newspapers Can Win Our Business

Dear Newspapers:

We know you need us and ironically we would like to work with you. No, I’m not a big box store like Macy’s or even Toyota or BofA. I’m not representing restaurants, hotels, convention centers or classified advertisers. I’m one voice in millions of small businesses in Every City, USA that needs you to wake up and stimulate; your reinvention is taking way too long.

Newspapers we need you to act different in this new economy just like we have to act differently. You can’t fake a relationship with me anymore, a monthly invoice is a transaction not a relationship, and I need you to give me more than last decade’s advertising model.

A New View On Advertising Top 5 Ways Newspapers Can Win Over Small Business Owners Or Continue To Lose Our Business.

Imagine newspapers winning the millions of small businesses serving local communities driving cash flow, repeat business and large advertisers like Macy’s back to the fold. Imagine hiring journalists back because newspapers are delivering:
1) what readers want and
2) what their customers want.

#5 Run it like I run my business.

Newspapers seek what every business owner seeks: consistent growing revenue base, competitive advantages, happy customers who see results and repeat business.

To attain these goals, newspapers need readers to buy from businesses that pay to keep the lights on, and small businesses are a huge growing chunk. Readers will visit news sites, but newspapers need those readers to purchase.

As a small business owner, visit:- I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to shell out the bucks for newspaper advertising and inserts and not see a return on my significant investment. High costs have expectations.

I bought that ad to reach my local community and break away from the pack. Newspaper websites have impressive web visitors a month but newspapers need those readers to buy from me, their customer. They don’t.

If my customers’ weren’t happy I’d be calling them and asking what I needed to do to earn their business.

#4 Know thy customers.

Readers are creatures of habit, they wake up, check email, their news sites or TV and then they think about getting the fence fixed, the gauges chromed on the boat, their Callaway’s regripped or braces for the kids. Finding a reputable local business quickly is part of everyday life.

Are people turning to their newspaper ads for qualified vendors? Nope, readers ignore those annoying ads in print and online. The chicken pox go away, hives go away, can all those ads please go away? They distract readers from what they want to accomplish online. As an advertiser, annoying my prospects is not exactly the branding experience I envisioned.

People are busy; they have no time to vet local businesses and just want to get the job done right the first time, whether it’s getting the roof fixed, grandma’s antique sideboard restored or the piano tuned. When I needed a new roof, I didn’t want to know how to use fascia or soffit in a complete sentence, I wanted my roofer to be an expert, replace the roof and recommend a painter who could get the ceiling fixed before company arrived.

Small businesses can’t break through the noise of too many advertisers saying the same thing: years experience, great service, etc. (true or not). Reputable businesses are frustrated because they spend money but can’t differentiate their business. It’s not fun to be a 25-year veteran and get the call to fix the schlocky work of a fast talker with a business card because he undercut your cost by not paying required insurance. Not fun at all.

“Instead of dawdling on websites many users want simply to reach a site quickly, complete a task and leave. Most ignore efforts to make them linger and are suspicious of promotions designed to hold their attention.” Usability guru Jakob Nielsen.

#3 Know thy competitive advantages.

What if newspapers recognized that the competitive advantage they have over any other news provider is local journalists living in the community they serve and the ability to consistently touch their audience with high value local content relevant to readers?

Journalists, you’re interviewers, researchers, reporters, videographers, writers. Most small business owners give great interviews but, remember Johnny can’t write.

In our web 2.0 world, “perfectly targeted advertising is information.” “Content is the ad.”

Providing validated, useable content for local purchasers of products and services, vetting local information for readers saving them time and the pain of a bad vendor decision is a valuable service. I can’t hire Bob Vila.

“Individuals are more and more in charge of our online experience. If you interrupt me, you annoy me. Your greedy ad steals my time. You have to give me something, be on my side, try to uplift my life, and then, just like a friend, I will give you lots of time.”

#2 Be a part of my success.

Small business owners live everyday knowing people buy local products and services from referrals.

Newspapers’ customers grow through referrals. According to Nielsen, “70% of the people surveyed globally said that they trust ‘Consumer opinions posted online’. More over, 90% said they trust ‘Recommendations of people they know’. The impact of reviews and recommendations by people are having a considerable impact on the decision making of the customers.”

To win their customer’s repeat business, newspapers need to enter the referral market with a value proposition that is at the top of the food chain; an exceptional model that coexists nicely with the growing world of online recommendations. The model needs to address referrals as well as the quality gap left by advertising.

Match the reader who needs x with the vendors who deliver fabulous x, and you are generating qualified leads for your customers and that is a valuable service.

#1 Earn my trust and I will give you my loyalty.

What if newspapers:

Delivered readers immediate news relevant to them and information about qualified local businesses to provide them products and services?

Promoted validated businesses but also brought the community together to help them run better businesses by providing infrastructure for businesses to create positive relationships?

What if newspapers filled in the quality and trust gaps left by advertising earning the trusted role of each community’s information hub?To become a trust agent of the community, newspapers need to stop accepting advertising checks from disreputable businesses. Being the hub has responsibilities and it’s time for integrity-based journalism to promote reputable businesses on their site. Give the people what they want.

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