What’s your opinion?


Is there a future for such a distribution channel of print editions as subscription?

  • Monday
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday
  • Saturday
  • Sunday
Not sure
Total votes: 4
You have only one vote, but you may change it as many times as you like before the discussion closes.
4 participants

Recent views

2011-11-14 23:00

I could answer mischievously by highlighting that I left my job selling print newspapers for one in online-only media! But I'll aim to be more helpful than that.

In fact, I can also be more optimistic -- especially for media professionals outside North America & Western Europe, where print is really a tough sell nowadays.

First: Yes, there is a future for print subscriptions... IF. For me, there are two important criteria:

1) If the newspaper is a metro morning daily paper that distributes within a 250 km radius. Or

2) If the newspaper or magazine is weekly or less frequent. Meeting one of these two criteria is essential for delivering the paper on a basis that is timely enough to be satisfactory. Trying to deliver a daily paper further away than that is likely to both disappoint readers (especially in bad weather) and be bad economics for the publisher.

Subscriptions are a great business model for publishers. They allow the publisher to a) get paid up front for a good/service to be delivered in the future, b) gain vital customer data that companies in many other industries would love to have (and pay for access to as advertisers), c) potentially implement an auto-renew clause, which means the revenue becomes almost an annuity the publisher can count on year after year.

Second: There are many ways to increase subscribers, but few that I would recommend for building a valuable news media business. Many publishers have found "success" in giving away other products to their newspaper/magazine subscribers: books, CDs, DVDs, pens, watches, cameras, toasters, etc. These gimmicks get people to buy the product. But they attract customers who buy for the wrong reason and they rarely lead to loyal customers. (Although for some publishers, it may make sense to give away books or DVDs if the content is their own and compliments the publication's mission.)

Rather, I would recommend building relations with your subscribers. Many publishers give the best deals to their newest subscribers and they charge the highest prices to their longest-term subscribers. The economics may make sense at first, but this practice shows little respect for your most loyal readers. It provides incentives for subscribers to cancel their sub and start over -- exactly the wrong incentive! Instead, you should create programs (or clubs) that offer the best rewards to those subscribers who have been with you longest. Give them incentives to stay 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years or more. The incentives can be nice gifts with the publication's logo (e.g. champagne stopper, candle holders, letter opener, wallet). Or a print of the publication's cover with the subscriber's name in a headline. The best incentives are things that readers value a lot and do not necessarily cost the publisher much money. Examples include invitations to spend time with the editors at a dinner lecture or lunch discussion or wine tasting. It is best if these are in special locations, which may be hard for readers to usually access, like a parliament dining room or sports stadium VIP lounge, or top of the city's tallest building.

But the secret to making any of this work is in good data gathering and maintenance. If you know your subscribers, you'll be able to build a relation with them and keep them coming back.

2011-11-18 18:34

The latest trend, at least in the US, is described in the article 'Newspapers are tipping fast to a focus on Sundays as value of those subscribers increases': see the link below.