I recently had the great privilege to do some traveling and speak to some key players in the the print world. Why? To share my story, my passion, and to offer a fix to the print advertising issue facing many newspapers today. In this article I will share what we talked about as well as my slide deck. My hope is that you will get the same value out of this article as they did during our time together… So here we go. Print Advertising: Changing the “Game” The Steve Wessel Story
I remember starting just about every day when I was growing up going out to the kitchen and seeing my dad reading the newspaper with his cup of coffee. First he read the headlines and local stories, then the high school sports scores and, on Sunday morning before church, we all fought over the comics. The newspaper was a big part of our lives.
It was the way we found out that the judge who lived across town and went to our church was being investigated for taking bribes and the only way we kept up on who was getting married or divorced, who bought a new house and who had died. Before the internet, it was our only source of information. It was the glue that made us a community. The newspaper sparked many a discussion when my dad told me that our big high school rival had just won their first game, or asked me if I knew a local boy whose name was in the paper because he had just gotten a ticket for reckless operation – and of course, the inferred warning that better not EVER be me!
I went into the print business 34 years ago. I love information. I love communication – and print used to be the way we did that. Even when we printed mountains of forms that were filled out and filed away in massive filing cabinets, I enjoyed the fact that those forms held the information that told the story of a business and the lives of people
Then, Al Gore came along. By some accounts, he single-handedly changed the world! The internet happened, and the sales of print newspapers declined precipitously. People check emails, Twitter, newsfeeds on mobile phones while sitting in meetings, in restaurants, even while walking down the street! They get the news constantly and it does serve to form a community. But it isn’t a community defined by proximity. It’s not your neighbors, your family, the town you live in as much as it’s defined by interests. If you’re interested in knitting, you might become part of a community of people all over the world who are interested in knitting. A printed newspaper is the object that we can all touch and feel.
Virtual: temporarily simulated or extended by computer software
A newspaper is the answer to all the “virtual” reality in our lives. It’s a tangible object that talks about real people – not virtual. It connects me to the real-life people in my neighborhood, my town, and the pizza shop around the corner. I do get information on the internet, but it’s a totally different experience. The newspaper is the way I get information while I am surrounded by family or just sitting with my wife drinking coffee.
But print newspapers, as I’m sure I don’t have to tell any of you reading this, are facing really big challenges. Some years ago, after talking with some newspaper people, we came up with an idea that helps cement community spirit. People talk about it over the water cooler, or when they get together at the PTA. They say they need just one more number to get a diagonal cover or they’re hoping that B20 is called tomorrow because it’s the last number they need for a coverall. It really does get people buying newspapers and talking about it.
It also gives you opportunities to network and develop relationships with your local businesses. You can really help that pizza shop owner who is trying to decide if he should invest his precious advertising dollars in digital advertising or in print.
We have had many papers tell us that they have increased circulation and ad revenue, but just as importantly, they have told us that people look forward to the promotion. We have a newspaper with a car dealership client. They had been working together for years and the car dealer had told him that he was going to try something different because print ads just didn’t work anymore. The paper and the dealership had a long history of working together and they were facing the end of that relationship. And the newspaper was facing the loss of one of their best advertisers. The car dealer saw the bingo promotion and decided to try print just one more time. You know what happened? People kept coming in and THANKING him for running the bingo promotion. They came up to him on the street and said they had a lot of fun and wondered when the next promotion was going to be. It was working to help build community! It was helping the newspaper serve its community. As a result of the bingo promotion, the car dealership saw an increase in foot traffic and decided to repeat it a few months later and the paper retained the dealership’s advertising.
Just the other day, I got an email from a newspaper in Reading , PA. They ran a bingo promotion and had everybody mail in their winning cards. They asked that readers mail in their completed bingo cards and then held a drawing at a shopping mall which sponsored the promotion. They had over 3000 excited people attend the event. It turned out to be a great success for the community – and not unimportantly, for the mall!
A Bingo promotion can work for a lot of newspapers of different sizes and in different markets. Is it a fit for you?
- grows readership of your print edition
- increases advertiser revenue and loyalty
- provides a fun, interactive game that pays off for your readers
- a no-risk promotion that generates profits
- proven to work by newspapers nationwide
Here are the slides that I shared with the group. Feel free to share them as you wish. If you want more help in figuring out if a Bingo promotion is for your company or print organization, contact us for our free assessment.