9% Decline in Newspaper Circulation

Capacity Interactive AUTHOR: Capacity Interactive
Apr 27, 2010
3 Min Read

The New York Times reported today that newspaper circulation has fallen almost 9 percent since the same time last year. 9 percent!

Further evidence that traditional advertising is loosing it’s punch. I see this as a call to examine your marketing budget allocations. Here is my advice. Take 9% of your newspaper advertising budget away from the newspaper and invest it in improving your permission marketing.

Permission marketing is delivering anticipated, relevant, and personal communications to people who care about you. For arts organizations’ this is primarily your email strategy. If you spent $200,000 in the newspaper last year how about taking 9% of that, or $18,000 and strengthening your permission marketing. Here are some ideas:

1. Invest in making sure the email sign-up on your site is clear and evident on every page.
Make sure it lists the benefits of signing up for your emails. Make sure to give users choices of what they want to receive. Only collect basic information like email address and name. You are just starting a relationship, not getting married.

2. Invest in resources to run a sophisticated email program.
Say you have an email list of 50,000. If you can increase your open rate by just 3% you can sell over $30,000 in additional tickets a year (assumptions: 5% click through rate, 10% ecommerce conversion rate, $160 average transaction, sending 26 emails/year). Now this is not that difficult to do, but requires expertise. Who is running your email program? An analytical marketer or a junior marketing assistant? Invest in consulting or training for this assistant or spend the 9% of newspaper dollars on a salary line to hire an email rock star.

3. Hire a designer and/or a usability expert to rebuild your email templates.
While you are at it hire a writer to examine your email voice. Are your emails visually compelling and easy to read or are they institutional and text-laden? Do your constituents look forward to getting your emails? Nancy Boy is a cosmetics company in San Francisco. Join the Nancy Boy email list and in your inbox will pop funny, colorful and highly entertaining emails. And you get 15% off for life just for signing up. Stellar permission marketing.

4. Invest in an in-theater text message program where participants text in to a contest to win a backstage tour or other VIP experience.
Require an email address to enter the contest. Your mobile vendor (like Guide by Cell) can automatically send a text message to the winner five minutes after the performance run time with instructions to redeem their prize. You get lots of new email addresses.

5. Invest in in-theater email collection. Insert a form on brightly-colored paper into every program that asks for an email address with a golf pencil taped to it. You can have a contest with a prize here too. Have ushers pick up the forms or collect them as patrons leave for intermission or at the end of the show. Alvin Ailey does this brilliantly.

9% in one year! The media world is changing fast. And soon you are not going to be able to buy enough traditional media to reach your constituents. So spend the money now to build your permission marketing infrastructure. Wait too long and your company may suffer the plight of the newspaper.