Newspaper sales pros not telling the story, losing customer base just emailing new, repeat clients

By Peter Wagner, N’West Iowa REVIEW

Many of today’s print advertising salespeople aren’t selling. They’re not getting face-to-face with potential customers and they are not “telling their story.”

Too many print advertising professionals are simply getting by, slowly losing their customer base, soliciting new and repeat advertising by email.

You and I know how that works. We all get dozens of sales proposals by email every day. My usual response is a quick push of the delete key. I don’t even take time to respond with a “No, thank you.”

Newspaper and shopper sales representatives have to put much of the blame on themselves for the “newspapers are dying” statements echoed by the various electronic and digital media companies. We are not putting up any defense. We are not “telling our story!”

History has proven the printed record is the one society depends upon to recall past facts and interpret the present. Digital files can be fleeting, are mostly undocumented and often are nothing more than personal opinion or harmful propaganda.

Here are some reasons your community needs and should support their local paper. More important, here is why local advertisers will still reach the greatest number of committed, local buyers through printed publications. These are key points you can include in your valuable, important “story.”

1. OUTREACH. Social media and locally produced websites, postings and blogs only reach select groups of like-minded followers. They only confirm the thoughts of a minority and split the community. Community papers reach deep into all the various social and economic levels to create consensus and positive action. Printed publications have a long shelf life. Printed papers are credible and are often referred to for everything from the high school basketball team’s conference record to which councilman voted what way during the latest tax issue.

2. READERSHIP. Contrary to populist edicts, the local paper still reaches readers of all age groups and all interests. That’s why papers put so much emphasis on publishing a well edited, extensive mix of local news, scholastic and recreational sports, previews and coverage of local entertainment and family-fun activities as well as both opinion and commentary pieces. Even the local papers’ ads help guarantee cross-culture readership with information on everything from that week’s grocery specials to the “specially priced spring tune-ups at the local bike shop.”

3. PROFESSIONALISM. No one business is so well prepared to offer readers and advertisers a more professional mix of news and advertising services, The local paper can provide everything from quality writing and editing to fresh and effective design at one quick stop. Publication readers can be sure they will get a great, hometown publication complete with the latest details on everything they want to know. Advertisers can be equally sure their message will be perfectly presented to the exact audience they want to reach.

4. LOCAL EXPERTS. The local paper shares the ideas and opinions of local experts from the clergy to the local historian to hometown chefs in columns that both enlighten and cause readers to dig deeper and get more involved in the community. Those same columnists each have a local following who are potential customers at local stores.

5. A CONNECTION WITH THE FAMOUS. The local newspaper is often the first, and sometime only, local stop for any politician, actor or artist, activists of other nationally or regionally known individuals visiting the community. Through their articles and photographs the paper shares the excitement and purpose of the visit with the community.

6. THE PAPER IS NON-INTRUSIVE. Unlike Facebook and other social media sites the newspaper keeps the readers names, addresses, views and interests private. The hometown paper does not collect and sell their reader’s comments, interests or secrets that are gleaned by reading the electronic exchanges between paying users of some international non-traditional information service.

7. PAPERS ARE ESSENTIAL. Newspaper reporters are everywhere that most citizens don’t have the time or opportunity to be. They attend meetings, interview sources, research facts, ask questions and create stories that keep voters, tax-payers and all interested citizens informed and involved. Hometown papers assure the future of their community by being a relentless watchdog of all that goes on around them. Without the local paper the community would just be a group of individuals passing through the same geographic area. Without community papers, local businesses would have no customer base to whom to sell their goods.

But nobody is going to know that truth unless local papers begin to “tell their story.”

Looking for good local sales training for your paper or group, or for a direct-to-the-point program to recommend to your group or press association manager? Contact Peter W.Wagner at (cell) 712-348-3550 or

Peter W. Wagner is founder and publisher of the award winning N’West Iowa REVIEW and 13 additional publications. This free monthly GET REAL newsletter is written exclusively for State and National Press Associations and distributed by them to their members. To get Wagner’s free PAPER DOLLARS email newsletter for publishers, editors and sales managers email him at The two monthly email newsletters contain information completely different than found in Wagner’s monthly Publisher’s Auxiliary column. Wagner can be contacted by emailing or calling his cell at 712-348-3550.

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