The Newspaper Business: Is It A "Sales" Problem?

Until recently my morning ritual included waking up around 4:30 every morning, enjoying my coffee and quiet time and reading a couple of “local” newspapers online. Well, not anymore.

While one of the papers made the announcement several months ago, this week the other announced they would begin to limit online access to non-subscribers. Really? You’re going to limit access to someone who you don’t have any printing or delivery cost in?

I can get your product with virtually no cost to you—you get my eyeballs to sell to your advertisers—and you want to change that? See ya at the Going Out of Business Sale!

Look at the popularity of ebooks, the Amazon Kindle and such. That is the delivery mechanism of the future—zero cost. No printing, no delivery, no fuss, no muss…no more.

While newspapers will claim they can’t give their content away for free, how do radio stations survive? What about local television stations? Those are sponsor and advertiser supported. The pay model for the internet is not going to work—there is too much free content out there and with local newspapers laying off workers left and right, most of the news is cut-and-paste anyway.

The real problem here is an inability to sell the advertiser on the value of my readership; and the lack of creativity in developing ad delivery methods that engage me and catch my attention.

Sadly, newspapers themselves are going the way of the Pony Express and teletype machines. And they had the perfect opportunity to capitalize on their strength: their content—and they failed to do so. Simply because they didn’t sell their advertisers on the value of being in front of so many eyeballs on the internet.

The winds of change are blowing—and yet another business or industry that could have “sold” their way out of a problem, just makes it worse and adapts to attrition.

Well, it’s been fun. See ya in the funny papers…or maybe not.


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