Nau: Selling Your Community and Your Newspaper with Ease!

Nau: Selling Your Community and Your Newspaper with Ease!

‘Selling Your Community and Your Newspaper with Ease!’


 Chuck Nau

In this ever changing economic and media environment, let me share with you a sales tool that has proven its value time and again. This simple sales tool will help you become the resource your advertisers turn to first when they need help, information and, quite frankly, reassurance. Additionally, in the process, this simple sales tool helps build your confidence and belief in yourself, newspapers, your newspaper and its website.

Along with a copy of your newspaper and your newspaper’s website stats, this simple sales tool will enhance your likelihood for success in both impromptu and anticipated face-to-face meetings with advertisers.

The simple sales tool? A pitchbook! What’s a pitch book?

It is all the necessary information you need to help potential advertisers visualize why they should invest ad dollars (… new and additional revenue!) in your newspaper, its website and additional newspaper products.

A pitch book is not a rate card.  It is more than that!  A pitch book ideally is a binder that contains information on your market, newspapers, YOUR newspaper, your competition, plus additional data you need to tell and sell your newspaper’s story.

Developing a pitch book, even the most fundamental one, does not have to be a time consuming, formidable or expensive task.  It is possible even if you are at a newspaper that has limited research resources, both human and financial.

Let’s consider for a moment building your own bare bones pitch book.  It may be bare bones initially, but as you use it, adding to and subtracting from, it will become a well-used and trusted ally in your progress toward sales success.

How, you ask, will you be able to develop a pitch book with limited or no research resources?  It’s easy, and it can be fun.  It will teach you more about your market, your newspaper, and your competition.

First, you will need to refocus those selling skills and do a little bit of investigative work. Ask lots of questions.

But what are we going to investigate?  Available, and in some cases free, resources to develop more facts, data, and information about your market, newspapers, your newspaper, and your competition in order to create, build, and refine your pitch book.

What resources?  Where?  Right there, in front of you.  Consider the following everyday sources of information:

For Market Information – The first, and possibly the best, resource may be your own newspaper.  Don’t overlook any departments or personnel. Begin a reference file featuring photocopies of news stories about your market (its growth, changes, population, schools, new retailers/employers, demographics). Don’t forget to tag each story with the newspaper’s name and date of story. In addition, keep an eye out for feature stories about your market in other area newspapers, regional business journals, and even your competition!

Another good community resource for you are Realtors and Financial Institutions. Ask them if they will share the information with you, volunteer to share your information, and give appropriate credit for the information. Homeownership, major employers, pay days, changes in your community’s school population, retail sales trends and spending habits are all important to your potential advertisers and help sell your market, and your paper.

Also, local college/university/branch campus, libraries, and government sources, both national (Small Business Administration) and local (Chamber of Commerce, Grange, County Economic Development Council) — these are great sources for economic (Census info, population, age, income, educational information) and historical (your local town origin, county origin, reasons behind largest town social/economic event) data.  All of this information helps you paint a picture about your market and the people your newspaper serves.

Do not overlook checking and reviewing any and all of your local market’s websites, including your newspaper’s, your competitor’s (radio, television, yellow pages, direct mail, billboards) and other print niche publications.

For Newspaper Information – As with your search for market information, your first resources may be your newspaper and your newspaper’s website. Search out any information regarding your newspaper’s history, goals and mission, readership, unique visitors, and circulation. Strategically plan how you will use this information to tell your story to your potential advertisers. Begin writing your newspaper’s story … its audience, the results you will generate, how your newspaper products cover the market and your newspaper’s affordability.

If your newspaper sources are limited and incomplete, reach out and ask your state press association for assistance. They are a wealth of information, perhaps not as much on your market, but on the state overall and the newspaper industry in particular.  Your state press association will have lots of resources available.  Whether it’s current circulation trends, average readers per copy, who is reading newspapers, who visits newspaper websites, how well newspapers and their websites work or the emerging technology questions regarding the Internet — your newspaper association can help you.

Last but not least, network with other newspapers in your region or state to discuss what’s new, what’s available, what’s working.

For Competitive Information – just ask.  To learn about your competition and what they are doing in your market, ask those advertisers, both existing and new, if they would share their competitive strategy (and information) with you. Call your competition, ask some questions, and request a rate card or media kit. You do not have to identify yourself, and if you are not asked you do not need to tell them who you are or why you are calling. Then again, if your competitor asks, and you identify yourself, what is the worst they can say?  No.

To learn about a particular medium (cable, radio, direct mail) call an out-of-market competitor, who will probably give you specific information on their station or mailing and broad based information on the media, radio or direct mail, which you can use.

Keep looking for new resources.  Keep updating your pitch book.  It’s your pitch book.  Make it work for you.  As I mentioned earlier, it will help you become the resource your advertisers turn to first when they need information and, in the process, build your confidence and belief in yourself, newspapers, your newspaper and its website.

Have fun and good luck!

© Murray & Nau, Inc.

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Chuck Nau of Murray & Nau, Inc. is a Seattle area based publishing consultantand 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 at: or at (425) 603 – 0984.