Revealing Your Market’s Best Kept Secret

Psst. Your market has a secret.

You already know it. Your market secret?  Your newspaper and your newspaper’s web site work.  Individually or collectively, your newspaper and your newspaper’s web site create awareness and generate sales results.

Why is it a secret?  Why might so few people in your market know that your newspaper and your newspaper’s web promote action and work?  Could it be that you and your staff forgot to tell them?  Are you telling the same circle of friends, contacts, and advertisers over and over again?

During these challenging economic times, when business is tough to get, are you, your staff and your entire newspaper (… they’re ALL part of your marketing team) promoting, marketing AND talking about your newspaper and your newspaper’s web site and the action, response and results they generate?

What’s missing in your media and marketing package, both in print and online?

Could it be testimonials?  Both reader testimonials and advertiser testimonials?

Testimonials?!?  What’s a testimonial?  Simply put, it is a certificate of qualifications, value or a recommendation or something given to show esteem, admiration, or gratitude.

Have you given your readers (the local school superintendent, police officer, minister, Chamber of Commerce member) the opportunity to share with others the VALUE your newspaper and your newspaper’s web site bring to your community?

Have you given your current advertisers, your best accounts, the opportunity to give you, your newspaper and your newspaper’s web site a RECOMMENDATION?

Have you given your community, both advertisers and readers, the opportunity to express their ADMIRATION and GRATITUDE for the important community resource your newspaper and your newspaper’s web site is to your community?

If not, ask them!  They’ll be flattered, and their enthusiastic response may surprise you!

But when do you ask?  As soon as you or your staff become aware of a favorable reader comment (… in a Letter to the Editor?) or when the success of  a particular ad is shared with you. Tell your reader or advertiser that their comments are valuable to you, your paper, your newspaper’s web site and the community (…because they are!). Tell them that you do not want their thoughts to be lost or forgotten.

Assist your readers or advertisers in crafting a well written and complimentary (to both of you) testimonial. Typically, it may be a brief three or four sentence on their letterhead or over their signatures.  Present them with a framed final version to display in their place of business or office, overlaid on a image of your masthead or front page.  Ask your publisher for a hand written note of thanks to slip into the outside of the frame.  Deliver your framed testimonial in person with other members of your staff or key executives.

Once you have your testimonial in hand, market it and promote it to the utmost.

First and foremost, design an appealing and professional format for your testimonials.  Typically, this has been a newspaper ad featuring selected quotes from the testimonial plus a photo of the individuals providing the quote. If appropriate, a photo of their place of business can also be used.  However, something is missing in the typical in-paper testimonial ad.  Have you ever seen a testimonial ad for an automobile that does not feature the actual automobile product?

Is your newspaper or your newspaper’s web site, the product the testimonial is all about, featured?  But don’t just drop it in the testimonial – put it in the hands of the individual giving the testimonial.  Help those seeing your testimonial envision how your newspaper or your newspaper’s web site played a key role in the growth and success of this local community business. Help those seeing your testimonial envision how your product, your newspaper and your newspaper’s web site, play an important role in this reader’s life in your community.

But let’s go back for a moment.  A testimonial for your paper in your paper?   A testimonial for your paper’s web site on your newspaper’s web site? Are we preaching to the choir?  That’s not all bad, but it may be limiting your exposure.

Make your testimonials a key ingredient in your marketing or media package.  Select some of your best testimonials and add them to your rate card, special section calendar, reader profile, and market information.  As you collect a variety of testimonials, reproduce them with a photo and abbreviated quotes and compile a series of them (reader and advertiser) on an 8-1/2 x 11 sheet and include it in all your marketing and promotional efforts.

As you frame your testimonials and present them to your advertisers and readers for their places of business, office or home, do the same for your newspaper.           

Display your newspaper and newspaper web site’s testimonials throughout your newspaper.  Share them with your visitors and with your vendors.  Familiarize your newspaper co-workers with your testimonials.  Hang them in a variety of places within your newspaper’s facilities  … in the cafeteria or break room, the newsroom, various conference rooms, the advertising and online areas, circulation and home delivery areas.  Don’t forget your own lobby amongst your news and editorial awards.  Month after month rotate them, adding new ones and retiring others. 

Last but not least, keep your testimonials alive, current, and visible.  Each and every day remind those around you that your newspaper and its web site are awareness generating, results producing resources in your community!


 © Murray & Nau, Inc.

Chuck Nau of Murray & Nau, Inc. is a Seattle area-based publishing consultant, sales and management trainer. He has been a speaker for and conducted advertising, marketing, management and sales training workshops with newspapers, niche publishers, publishing groups and press associations, throughout North America.

Comments and questions are welcome and may be directed to Chuck via email:murnau@nwlink.com or at (425) 603-0984.