Question: My associates and I are publishers of a monthly specialized newspaper. Without disclosing its circulation, it is acclaimed to be quite rich in content but has low sales. Only God knows when we can break-even in our situation. Your tips on how to ‘pump up’ circulation (and subsequently sales) will be highly appreciated. – A. O.
Be it tabloid, compact, broadsheet in terms of format, it is well known that newspapers all over the world are suffering from declined sales. Those in Nigeria are no exemption. With the Nigerian newspaper having the highest daily sales figure of about 35,000 (according to local audit bureaus), from about 300,000 slightly more than a decade ago (I know that the combined daily circulation of ALL newspapers in the country, presently, is less than 300,000), this global phenomenon points to an alarming slide in the patronage of newspapers.
The Internet is the major ‘culprit’. Millions now have access to the Internet or to cable news sources, which afford much quicker and much cheaper information about goings-on globally.
Many would wonder why buy a newspaper when all they require could be obtained on the Internet, even free of charge – News and information web sites and also online versions of hundreds of newspapers now abound (all having free access). Even job seekers, who used to throng newspapers stands in years past, now have much more favourable alternative on the Internet, with it numerous job listing sites.
Some web sites even go some steps further to provide tips on how to compose curriculum vitae (CV) and tutoring on composure before job interview panels. With its provision of a world of abundant competition and consumer choice, the Internet certainly provides more choice for advertisers and readers.
Without delving into an analysis of ‘why newspaper readership is in decline’, several studies have shown that an evaluation comparing the readership of print and online versions of the same newspaper portend an increase in Net (online) readership. Evidence abound that papers have seen their online audiences grow over a period, as their print circulations have declined.
While the newspaper industry is striving mightily to remain relevant and competitive with internet news sources, some are of the opinion that hard-copy newspapers may fade away shortly, but the news will always be with us, though in a different form and transmitted by different means. These believe that print journalism will be replaced by some form of electronically-transmitted news, as we hear of the disappearance of several newspapers.
Many have crashed, but there are still a few thousand daily, weekly and monthly papers still rolling off the presses. I am one of those with the view that another saving approach could lie in specialization – Papers striving to appeal to a special audience, such as those interested solely in business and finance; community (e.g. campus newspaper); crime, ethnic and cultural matters; faith, lifestyle, events and entertainment; music, properties and estate, tourism; etc.
No matter how people perceive the situation, I am convinced that hard-copy newspapers are not going to disappear entirely. So, ‘ride on’ with your specialized newspaper, in spite of my not being aware of your area of specialization.
As regards tips to ‘pump up’ circulation (and subsequently sagging sales) of your monthly newspaper, I hope the following will serve your purpose to aid in creating customers, advertisers, and subscribers:
Improvement on content – Endeavour to improve on your editorial, news, features, graphics and pictorial contents, as high quality source of information no doubt attracts readership, which directly impact on circulation and subsequently sales.
House advertisement – Your best tool for advertising is to have ‘own advert’ frequently in your own newspaper. Ads about your newspaper, repeated in the same paper, can help increase business from existing customers and even attract new customers. This helps publicize your own message at no extra cost, and also exhibit your confidence in your own product.
Informational advertisement – Apply this as a means of educating potential readers about what they’ll find in the newspaper (e.g. special supplement on activities in the Stock Exchange; informational ads about upcoming features, etc.)
Personal contacts – As you’re not likely to have a distinct advertisement unit, try to apply your personal contacts or connections to reach out to prospective sources of paid-for advertisements. Show how your newspaper can be more relevant to an advertiser than your competitors, in order to obtain new advertising revenue. This effort could also be outsourced on commission basis.
Personalities’ profiling – As many Nigerian dignitaries are favourably disposed to having their photographs and related write-ups (about their remarks and profile) in newspapers, cash-in on this to feature personalities related to your specialization. Many will be willing to part with some money for this ‘subtle publicity’, hence extra revenue for your paper.
Brand asset – Leverage on your paper’s brand asset (i.e. what the paper is best known for, such as recognition for comprising a reliable source of information on crime in Nigeria). Such realisation often leads to sales increase and accompanying financial gains.
Kiosk – Put up a few, clearly identifiable, kiosks that exclusively promote your paper (not the newsstand kiosks that sell all publications) in high traffic areas, shopping malls, etc.
Increased distribution – Get more subscribers for direct delivery and sale of your newspaper. Offer bonus and other incentives (e.g. generous commission-on-sale) to newspaper vendors and outlets. Vendors have ways of promoting newspapers to stimulate readership. Complimentary copies help prospective customers size up your paper for favourable decision on patronage.
Events and contests – Sponsorship of these could be used as tool of promoting your newspaper. Sponsorship, by a Crime Newspaper, of a major event by civic society groups aimed at curbing crime among the youths will go a long way to uplift the publication’s profile.
Store displays – Stores which sell the newspaper should display it signs, as such within them and on their windows, help tie their business and relationship to your newspaper for sales maximization.
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