A Wake-Up Call to the Newspaper Industry

I had an experience recently that made me think: “Hmmm. Maybe this is one of the reasons the newspaper industry is struggling.”

After landing a new account recently, I began setting up my files and processes for gathering information about the client and sources of information that would help me stay on top of issues impacting them externally. This generally includes some combination of online sources, industry trade publications, etc. In this case, because of the type of business the client does, I decided to subscribe to the local paper because I wanted to add it to my morning reading ritual.

So, I went online to their website to subscribe. And that’s when the fun began.

I couldn’t find a way to subscribe online. They provided a phone number. Really? Now, I know there are those who would prefer picking up the phone to make a transaction, but I’m not one of them. My belief: in today’s hybrid world, you need to offer consumers an array of options to connect with you to purchase your goods or services.

In this case, I finally found an online option to order a two-week trial subscription. Okay, I thought, I’ll start there. It will give me a flavor of whether I’m getting value from this paper or not and, if so, I can then pick up the phone and make my purchase the 20th century way.

While waiting for my two-week trial to begin, I received a direct mail solicitation (via snail mail) to subscribe to the paper at a discount. It included a business reply postcard so I thought, okay, why not, I’ll just do that for a 12-week period. I did.

Fast forward four weeks later and still no paper. This is, by the way, a daily paper.

So, I decided to call. The woman I spoke with was exceedingly helpful; she found both of my orders in her system, put me on hold for a while as she attempted to gather some additional information, and eventually came back to tell me she had it taken care of and I should begin receiving both the two-week trial and my 12-week subscription (for a total of 14 weeks of the paper) immediately.

That was three days ago. I’m going to keep trying to get this paper, in this situation, but I have to ask myself: “How many others would?”

I happen to agree with those who believe that there is a place for local newspapers to survive and even thrive–the coverage of local news. As is the situation when I have clients that either have the opportunity to be impacted by, or to impact, the local news: I like to stay on top of what’s going on. Also, quite honestly, although it may be a symptom of my “advancing age,” despite that fact that I have a Kindle and generally access its content via my Android smartphone, I still prefer hard copy in some situations.

But, like any consumer, I also have a tendency to be impatient. When I want to make a purchase, I want to make a purchase. Make it difficult for me, and I’m likely to give up. In this case, I’ll keep trying because I really want to subscribe to this newspaper!

How many of your other potential subscribers will?

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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